Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest

Well the contest everyone loves to hate by the company everyone loves to hate has opened its entry period February 16 – March 2, 2014, for the 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest (ABNA).

It’s open to all unpublished and self published, English language novels. The contest will remain open until March 2, or 10,000 eligible entries have been received. Entrants can log into CreateSpace.

There will be one Grand Prize winner, who’ll receive $50,000, as well as four First Prize winners, who’ll receive a publishing contract from Amazon, and an advance of $15,000.

The categories are general fiction, mystery/thriller, romance, science fiction/fantasy/horror, and young adult fiction.See the Official Contest Rules for more info, and the prizes page for, you know, prize stuff, et cet.

You can only enter one manuscript per category.

The Uninvited and ERO can fit into two categories. Am I gonna enter?

Plan on it.

UPDATE Feb 22, 2014:

Upon reading the Amazon contest contract, I noted a curious clause, called the “Moral Rights” clause. It kinda disturbed me. It states that we waive all moral rights, which means the rights of attribution and integrity. Here’s  a link describing said clause, and below is a response from a fellow writer/publishing lawyer, Susan Spann, who has graciously allowed me permission to post her response:

“I’ll pipe in from the publishing lawyer’s perspective.

‘Moral rights’ are more important abroad than they’ve traditionally been in the U.S.

The right of attribution means the author’s right to have his or her name associated with the work. That’s critically important, but generally dealt with elsewhere in the contract (with U.S. Contracts, anyway).

The right of integrity is the right to prevent ‘mutilation or alteration’ of the work. Again…important to most of us, but dealt with in a section usually titled ‘editing.’

Ultimately, moral rights are the right of the author to have his or her name associated with the work and to prevent non-permitted changes to it. Most of those rights are addressed elsewhere in U.S. contracts, and many publishers do ask for waivers of moral rights. Most authors just don’t notice them lurking in the legalese. That said, there may well be other rights-grabs in the Amazon rules that warrant attention.”

But, you have to enter the contest, stay with the contest, then win the contest to even be considered for/get an Amazon publishing contract, which means you have to abide by giving up all moral rights to even get the publishing-your-book contract where “all this” would “be handled.” And by who—you? Better get an agent…but, of course, that’d be too late, since you already gave up your moral rights by entering and staying with the contest contract.

Read that contract. I am/still going over it.

So…I’m considering withdrawing from the contest. I’m perfectly content with the result of my indie releases, and was just looking to gain a publishing house, so I didn’t have to pay out money to publish. It appears…TANSTAAFL…still applies.

Additionally from Susan:

“Normally a moral rights waiver is pretty clear. The language will be something like ‘Author waives all moral rights in and to the Work.’ That clause may stand alone, or may lurk elsewhere in the document. Generally speaking, though, the language is actually going to use the words ‘moral rights.’

The true lurker versions of this language get rid of the moral rights piecemeal (which is more common in the U.S.). The words ‘Publisher has the right to edit the Work, and the right of final approval over the form and content of the work’ are essentially a waiver of the moral rights against defacement and alteration – because the author is giving the publisher the final right to edit and approve the work. Where the author requests additional language that says ‘provided that Publisher’s changes may not substantially alter the substantive content of the Work,’ the author is rescuing some of those moral rights — the ones that deal with substance and content.

The same is true of the attribution right. When the contract states that the Publisher ‘will’ credit the author as author of the Work on the title and verso page, that’s a protection of the author’s moral right of attribution.

In one sense, this has become a lesser issue in the U.S. because we deal with the individual rights that make up “moral rights” separately in our standard contracts.

Also, this clearly needs to get into my #PubLaw posts somewhere. I’m not sure I’ve done one on moral rights.

I used to teach this as part of the intellectual property and copyright courses I taught at the law school level, and I can tell you it gave new lawyers issues too.”

Susan also had issues with other parts of the contract that gave me increased pause for thought. For instance, the Grand Prize winner’s grant of rights in all forms and formats doesn’t terminate like the other “levels-of-winners” do. And there’s no specifics about when the “all forms and formats” runs out.

So, given I no longer have an agent, and given all the terrific info Susan—a publishing lawyer—gave, I’m withdrawing my submission.

Thanks, Susan, for all your advice and information!

Disclaimer: And, just to be clear, Susan did NOT recommend any course of action to me (she did not recommend I withdraw in any way, shape, or form), this is all and totally MY decision.

Be[ a]ware.

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11 Responses to “Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest”


  1. 1 jcjjones February 17, 2014 at 6:31 am

    You betcha!! Enter everything you’ve got !!

  2. 3 jpon February 17, 2014 at 7:52 am

    Yeah, me too. I was going to enter a conference novel contest, but they wanted $50 to submit. These contests are getting ridiculous.

  3. 8 fpdorchak February 19, 2014 at 5:10 am

    BTW, am no really clear if you can enter in more than one category (removed that from my post). It’s still unclear to me….but, if you know you want to enter and haven’t, do so now—you can always go back in an EDIT your entry, if you need to clean it up, but at least you’re registered.

  4. 9 Marc Schuster February 24, 2014 at 7:57 am

    I’m thinking about the publisher’s right to edit and, I suppose, re-purpose the work according to this clause, and I’m thinking about this piece by Daniel Pinkwater: http://www.newyorker.com/talk/2012/05/07/120507ta_talk_mcgrath The gist of it is that one of his stories was used in a standardized test, but that the story was greatly changed without his knowledge. I imagine a clause similar to the moral rights clause Amazon is using was cited by his publishers.

    • 10 fpdorchak February 24, 2014 at 8:32 am

      That’s all well and good (the “editing” part), but I’m no contracts expert, no longer have an agent, and, basically, don’t trust that it would just stay at the editing level. Like the pineapple tale. Geeze. If it were to just stay at the editing level, then why call it something like “moral rights”?! Call it EDITING, for crying out loud. Implies a lot, legally and otherwise, and I’m not willing to blanketly give up such a thing w/o an agent/lawyer pouring over every word, punctuation, and the spaces between the words and punctuation in that contract.

      Sigh.

  5. 11 fpdorchak February 25, 2014 at 5:28 pm

    Per an Amazon e-mailed reply, dated Tue 2/25/2014 5:17 PM, I have been removed from the contest.

    To remove yourselves from it, if already entered, you need to send an e-mail to here and request removal; it took about two days: ABNA-admin@amazon.com.


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