The Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA)

18 12 2012

The Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA) is a contest sponsored by Amazon.comPenguin GroupHewlett PackardCreateSpace and BookSurge to publish and promote a manuscript by an unknown or unpublished author. 

After the initial submission period is over, the contest is made up of five rounds:

  • Round One: Each contestant must submit a short pitch about their novel, with selected Amazon editors judging the pitch on its quality, strength and originality. The editors will select up to 1,000 pitches from each category to progress to the second round.
  • Round Two: Excerpts from each novel will be read, reviewed and rated by Amazon editors and top reviewers. They will be judged on a scale of one (poor) to five (excellent) based on the excerpt’s overall strength, prose, style, plot, hook and the originality of the excerpt. 250 novels will be selected from both categories to progress to the quarter finals.
  • Quarter Finals: The entrants progressing to this category will have both their excerpts as well as the reviews from round two posted on Amazon for reading and reviewing. However, the judging for this category is done by Publishers Weekly reviewers who will select the top 50 entries from each category to progress to the semi-finals.
  • Semi-Finals: At this round the top 50 entries will be judged by a panel of judges selected by the publishing company Penguin, who will choose the top 3 entries for each category to progress to the finals.
  • Finalist Period: During this round the top excerpts for each category will be posted on the main ABNA page with links for the Amazon customer to vote for their chosen entry. Each contestant will also receive a review from a celebrity panel consisting of “at least one well-known author, one agent, and one editor.”  The winner of the contest will be announced at an awards ceremony held in the city of Amazon’s choosing.

Amazon introduced the Breakthrough Novel Award in 2007. The first competition began in late 2007 and ended in early 2008. A maximum of 5,000 manuscripts were accepted during the contest period, which ran between October 1, 2007 and November 5, 2007. In mid-January 2008, up to 836 authors were selected as semi-finalists and received a capsule review of their manuscript from Publishers Weekly. On February 19, 2008, 100 semi-finalists had their manuscripts read by Penguin editors.

On March 3, 2008, the top ten finalists were announced. All received a prize package from HP and a self-publishing package from BookSurge.

    • AThe Hellraiser of Hollywood Hills by Jennifer Colt
    • Casting Off by Nicole R. Dickson
    • Bad Things Happen by Harry Dolan
    • The Wet Nurse’s Tale by Erica Eisdorfer
    • The Butterflies of Grand Canyon by Margaret Erhart
    • Ring of Lies by Karen Laugel
    • Fresh Kills by Bill Loehfelm
    • Motherless Children by Randall Luce
    • The Prospect of My Arrival by Dwight Okita
    • Wrecking Civilization Before Lunch by John Ring

Amazon customers voted to pick the grand-prize winner. The top three received a trip to New York City. On April 7, 2008, Fresh Kills by Bill Loehfelm was announced as the first winner of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.  Loehfelm won a larger prize package from HP and a $25,000 advance on a publishing contract with Penguin.

In late 2008, Amazon started taking in entries for the 2009 ABNA awards. The judges for the year were announced to be Sue GraftonSue Monk KiddBarney Karpfinger, and Eamon Dolan. Finalists were announced May 15, 2009.

  • Bill Warrington’s Last Chance by James King
  • Greyhound by Steffan Piper
  • Russell Wiley is Out to Lunch by Richard Hine

On May 27, 2009, Bill Warrington’s Last Chance by James King was announced as the winner of that year’s contest. King received a publishing contract that included a $25,000 advance. Bill Warrington’s Last Chance was published by Viking, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA).

Sue Grafton, New York Times-bestselling author, said about the winning entry, “This is what reading is about and what a good book is supposed to do.”

On January 25, 2010, Amazon began to accept submissions for that year’s contest. Amazon announced that for the 2010 competition they awarding grand prizes in two categories, young adult and general fiction.[10] They would also limit the top finalists to three in each category, with six finalists total for both categories. Another change from the previous competition was that the total amount of submissions allowed entry was raised to 10,000 entrants, double the amount of the 2008 competition.

The top six finalists for the 2010 competition were announced on May 25, 2010, with Amazon customers voted for the grand-prize winner for each category.

Young Adult Fiction
  • Sign Language by Amy Ackley
  • Service of the Crown by Alex Airdale (later retitled The Cadet of Tildor and published under the name “Alex Lidell”)
  • Days Like This by Alison Stewart
General Fiction
  • Fortune Cookies by Jennifer Handford (later retitled Daughters for a Time)
  • Farishta by Patricia McArdle
  • Dove Season by Johnny Shaw (later released from Amazon Encore)

On June 14, 2010, Amazon announced the winner of the 2010 ABNA. Patricia McArdle (Farishta) and Amy Ackley (Sign Language) were announced the winners of their respective categories, each winning a publishing contract with Penguin as well as a $15,000 advance on their first book.

On January 25, 2011, Amazon once again began to accept submissions with the eliminations being made between the months of February and June 2011. The top six finalists for the competition were announced on May 26th, 2011, with the winners announced on June 15th, 2011. The winners were announced as Jill Baguchinsky for Spookygirl (young adult) and Gregory Hill for East of Denver(general fiction). 

Young Adult Fiction
  • Spookygirl by Jill Baguchinsky
  • Lost in Thought by Cara Bertrand
  • Devolution by Richard Larson
General Fiction
  • East of Denver by Gregory Hill
  • Dog Christ by Lucian Morgan
  • I Am Livia by Phyllis T. Smith

In late 2011 Amazon and Penguin Group (USA) released details of the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, with the dates for the elimination rounds being the same as the previous year. While the previous years’ winners had all been residents of the United States of America, the 2012 contest would be open to international contestants’ entries.

The top six finalists for the 2012 competition were announced on May 22, 2012.  On June 17th the winners were announced, with Alan Averill winning the award for general fiction and Regina Sirois winning the award for young adult.

General Literature
  • The Beautiful Land by Alan Averill
  • Grace Humiston and the Vanishing by Charles Kelly
  • A Chant of Love and Lamentation by Brian Reeves
Young Adult Fiction
  • Dreamcatchers by Cassandra Griffin
  • Out of Nowhere by Rebecca Phillips
  • On Little Wings by Regina Sirois

In December 2012, Amazon announced the details of the 2013 competition. Amazon is offering winners $50,000 advances and a contract with Amazon Publishing. Three new categories were added to correspond with the equivalent imprints of Amazon Publishing.

General literature
Young Adult Fiction
Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror



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