'Farishta' by Patricia McArdle was one of the previous winners of the contest.

Amazon kicks off its Breakthrough Novel contest

Amazon's annual competition comes with some changes this year as the company plans to publish the winner and adds new genres for the contest.

Attention aspiring novelists: It’s time to dust off your unpublished manuscript or get your creative juices flowing, fast. Today marks the launch of Amazon’s annual Breakthrough Novel contest.

The international contest co-sponsored by Publishers Weekly, now in its sixth year, invites aspiring novelists to submit book pitches for a chance to win a contract with Amazon Publishing. Four finalists receive publishing contracts and a $15,000 advance and one grand prize winner receives a publishing contract, plus a $50,000 advance.

“Over the past five years, the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award has helped thousands of authors realize their dream of writing a novel, while connecting them with their peers as well as readers and giving them the opportunity to be discovered,” said Nader Kabbani, Vice President of CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing in a press release, as reported by Good E-Reader. “We’re excited to evolve the contest this year to recognize talented aspiring authors in even more genres, with bigger advances, more winners, and quickly bring the winning novels to readers around the world.”

Here’s how it works: Authors can submit pitches in one of five categories – general fiction, romance, mystery/thriller, science fiction/fantasy/horror, and young adult fiction at CreateSpace. Pitches should include concept, protagonist, setting, and writing style and be within 300 words. (See sample pitches from past entrants here.) Work fast: the deadline for entering pitches is January 27 and Amazon will stop accepting entries after it has received 10,000 pitches.

Those who advance to subsequent rounds will be asked for the first 3,000-5,000 words of a manuscript and later, complete manuscripts between 50,000- 150,000 words. The grand prize winner will be voted on by Amazon users and announced in June. Entrants can find published works of previous contestants, including books by past Breakthrough Novel Award winners, here.

This year’s contest comes with some changes. For starters, Amazon dropped Penguin as its publishing partner and now uses its own Amazon Publishing house instead. At 10,000 expected entries, this year marks the biggest contest field yet. And at five genres, it also marks the most categories open for entry, widening the field. We’re eager to see how quickly the entries pour in – and who is awarded the coveted contracts with Amazon in June.

For more information, see official contest rules here.

Husna Haq is a Monitor correspondent.

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