Sunday, December 9, 2012

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest

Doo doo doo do DOO, doo doo do DOO DOO
*flashback sequence, sometime 2011-2012*

I'm just a surfing around the internet trying to think of good writing goals.  Hmmm, you know, I hear authors are finding a lot of success with Amazon.  They're getting good, decent contracts and really making a name for themselves with a publisher that seems to care about them as people, not machines.

Huh, Amazon has a Breakthrough Novel Award Contest?  How did I not know about this sooner?  Boy oh boy, my heart is full of happiness and joy and puppies licking candy canes!  But despite my excitement, I am an author who cares about her career. I know that NOT understanding what's expected of me in my contract, and NOT understanding at least enough legalese to protect myself is a DUMB MOVE.  Let's look over the terms of this contest hmmmm...



If you win Amazaon's BNAC, you get a contract for your book.

From Penguin.

Thanks, but NO THANKS.  You can collect your consolation prize at the door there, Penguin, but you won't be wringing me dry, a new and vibrant author, with your machine of lies and death.  If Amazon isn't offering the contract for their own contest, well, I didn't avoid the query-go-round for nothing!

*close window, forget about ABNAC 95%, fast forward to today*

Oh, Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Award Contest.  I remember this.  The one with Penguin that was actually not a very good deal at all.  Well, maybe they've changed something, let's have a looksee...

Well, I see the $5,000 paid against royalties for the winner has been increased to $50,000.  That's pretty substantial.  And now there are also 4 "First Prize" winners that get paid $15,000 against royalties along with the printing of their book.  That's kind of nifty.  What else?

Oh, previously self-published books can be submitted, as long as they meet the 50-150k word requirement. So I'd be okay on "Shackled" but not so much on "Youth" which falls a little shy of the 50k minimum.  Anything else?

... Huh.

Amazon has taken control of their contest.  Now, if you win Amazon's contest, you get published... by Amazon.  Well that certainly sounds more appealing!  Hmm, but if you "win", you have to accept the contract "as-is" with no negotiations.  Now, I've heard contracts from Amazon are a-to-the-wesome, but I've never actually SEEN one.  Though, I suppose I could take the contract to a lawyer once it was offered. Let's do a little more digging...

Well, I'd have to give up worldwide rights.  And there would be no "end" on the contract, as far as this shows, so if they don't get me in the right places and it never sells, I don't have recourse to get that book back.  I have to be honest, I don't understand if "Interactive Editions" includes if the book is optioned for a movie, or is made into a movie.  Am I expected to give up revenue for that?  Is a movie an "interactive product"?  I'm not really finding anything to back it up with a yes or no.

Gross vs Net, people often don't understand this.  My book might make $400,000 gross.  But if Amazon says they spent $400,001 dollars in marketing/layout/overhead, that is subtracted from the gross to leave the net: -$1.  That would mean that after the initial advance royalties, I wouldn't see a single red cent.  I don't like Net Revenue.  I think without defining exactly what CAN come out of Gross, you're leaving yourself open to a dangerous, expensive and vague loophole.  I always push for points (percentage of Gross, Ex: 5 points = 5% gross), because then no matter how much they spend, as long as money comes in, you get a part of it.  I am incredibly wary of this "net" business.  Especially when I don't understand what "interactive editions" could really identify.

But on the other hand, who am I?  I'm not a big name, I'm not well known and talked about with reverence.  I'm still a fledgling author, in the grand scheme of things.  $50,000... or even $15,000 in advance royalties and all the power of Amazon behind me?  Am I willing to essentially give up one book for that kick in the behind towards the door marked, "Success"?  How many books do I think I have in me?

More than one more?



Pffftt, one more book in me.  Who'm I kidding?  I have dozens, maybe hundreds, if I don't stop getting in my own way of writing them!  I can write a book for this contest!

Okay, you've nabbed me now, Amazon.  So I can just submit my novel anytime next year, right?

What do you mean, NO?

What do you mean you're only accepting the first 10,000 entries?

Starting January 14th?!?!  And you'll only accept them until you reach 10,000 or January 27th?!?

Hungry, hungry hippos, Batman!  I'd better get writing!  (And you should too!  Good luck everyone!)


  1. Love how you broke the numbers down. I wish you luck with ABNA! May we be one of the finalists! :-)

    1. Good luck to you as well, Roland! I'm stuck at a bit of an impasse - I planned to write a new novel for the contest, but life got in the way. I can't decide if I should politely bow out or submit my first, "Shackled"!