ABNA first round winning pitch

Posted on February 26, 2010 (Subscribe to Blog)

The first round winners were announced yesterday for ABNA, the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award... and Island of Fog is one of them! :-)

To recap, there are two categories: General Fiction and Young Adult Fiction, initially with around 5000 entries in each. These have now been whittled down to 1000 entries in each. I'm in the Young Adult category. If you're interested you can find out more about the competition, read the rules, keys dates, and read the entire list of first round winners on Amazon's ABNA page. The next round of winners – 500 in each category – will be based on the supplied excerpt, which is the first 3000-5000 words of the novel. In my case I supplied the short prologue and first chapter, which is slightly over 4000 words in total. (You can read this on my Island of Fog book page if you're interested.)

In a previous post I asked for opinions about my pitch, and based on those opinions I was able to move things around a little and improve it. Here's the final version:

A lonely, foggy island is home to eight families. Twelve-year-old Hal and his friends have always wondered what happened all those years ago on the mainland, that unseen place Out There beyond the fog, and after an astonishing discovery in the woods the children are more determined than ever to find out what their parents are hiding. But their lives are turned upside down when Abigail reveals her closely guarded secret. According to her, the children are slowly changing into monsters! Are they freaks of nature, or subjects of a sinister experiment?

Each child reacts differently to his or her unique monstrous transformation; after all, one may feel proud to be a dragon, faerie, or centaur, but who in their right mind wants to be a sadistic manticore or cowardly harpy?

ISLAND OF FOG is a story of intrigue and conspiracy. The reader follows Hal Franklin as he struggles to accept that he and his friends are something more than ordinary children, and that their parents have been covering up the truth the whole time. With their trust shaken and the unexpected arrival of a strange woman from Out There, the children hide their frightening shapeshifting abilities and pretend nothing is wrong.

Written by a die-hard reader and collector of children's mystery, adventure and fantasy novels, ISLAND OF FOG is a 95,000 word novel with strong series potential, aimed at young readers but suitable for all ages.

The first round (based on the pitch) is in some ways more difficult than the second round (based on an excerpt of the novel). With a 300-word pitch you can spend days and weeks polishing it, and because it's so short you can ask friends and colleagues to look at it and see if it works. You can hone it until it shines. That's all well and good, but would you lavish that much attention on a 50,000+ word novel? Heck, you can even ask a professional to write your pitch for you – but that doesn't mean your manuscript is any good, or that your general grammar and style is readable, or that your story works as a whole – it just means you have a well written pitch.

So in theory there could be thousands of entrants who really can't write at all and have no business entering. On the flip side you could have a New York Times-worthy bestselling novel, with a substandard pitch that is well written but says nothing about the story or otherwise misses the mark. So whether you're a good writer or not, it's all down to that first 300-word pitch. It's pretty brutal, and with a lot of competition.

But the next round is based on a 3000-5000 excerpt and is more likely to separate the wheat from the chaff. This round is based on actual talent and skill. The 500 who make it through to the third round will be writers who can write, and who have a novel that is going to appeal to the masses. I should think the judging will get a lot tougher then.

Will I make it through? Am I wheat... or chaff? Find out on March 23rd!

Comment by JANA on Friday, February 26, 2010...

ISLAND OF FOG is wheat. Definitely wheat. (smile)

MTLBYAKY

Comment by MING on Friday, February 26, 2010...

Wheat indeed!

Comment by ANONYMOUS on Saturday, February 27, 2010...

What will it mean for your book if you win?

Comment by HELEN on Saturday, February 27, 2010...

Hard core, high quality wheat, definitely!!!!!

Comment by KEITH ROBINSON on Saturday, February 27, 2010...

'Ears hoping you're right that Island of Fog is wheat!! (Ears... wheat... geddit?)

Anonymous, the winner gets a Penguin publishing contract with a $15,000 advance. All such details can be found on the Amazon ABNA page.

$15,000... that's a lot of bread. It goes against the grain but I suppose I'll have to wheat patiently to find out the results.

Comment by RALPH CORDEROY on Sunday, February 28, 2010...

Too corny for words. :-)

Comment by LIZ on Monday, March 1, 2010...

Good luck, Keith!

Comment by MATT BILLOCK on Friday, January 4, 2013...

Stumbled across this while working on the pitch for my own book, a forthcoming submission to 2013's edition of the competition. Excellent post!

Comment by KEITH ROBINSON on Friday, January 4, 2013...

Good luck, Matt! :-)

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