Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Quarterfinals

My run in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award is over. Am I disappointed? Not really. I knew going in that the judging criteria for this part was my weakest link. 

The “Excerpt” portion was limited to just 5,000 words and with The Card that included the development of the characters for an ongoing series. No excuses, it should have—and could have—been better. I went into this with eyes-wide-open knowing that I should have done a better job with this portion. I was hopeful that I might squeak by, but alas, it didn’t happen. 

 “Amazon Expert Reviewers” conducted the judging, which included one Amazon editor and one Amazon “Expert” reviewer. The Amazon “Expert” Reviewer is a status achieved by writing reviews for books listed on Amazon. 

After reading the reviews, I was:

1) Really encouraged at the response

2) Wondering what it took to get into the quarterfinals.

Here’s what they had to say:

ABNA Expert Reviewer #1

What is the strongest aspect of this excerpt?
I think many kids, especially boys will relate to this book. It supplies the reader with a dream that many of us had as youngsters. I still have a secret fantasy to be a batboy for a major league team. A timeless theme with a futuristic twist. Love stories set in Seattle and the Northwest.
What aspect needs the most work?
Maybe get to the action a little quicker. Kids have short attention spans and if you don't get to them right away they may not read further.
What is your overall opinion of this excerpt?
I think this excerpt has a lot of potential. Interesting subject matter and likable characters. I would like to read more of this story. 

ABNA Expert Reviewer #2

What is the strongest aspect of this excerpt?
The set-up is realistic, the pace well-modulated, and the details keep it fresh and interesting. The card dad gives Van, which is obviously going to pump up the plot, already has a highly-charged shimmer to it,but subtly so.
What aspect needs the most work?
There are a few cliches interspersed throughout the script that could be cut or changed, such as Van's heart pounding against the walls of his chest, the National Anthem bringing a lump to his throat. They don't compromise the quality of the excerpt, but they distract.
What is your overall opinion of this excerpt?
Combines a thriller with a coming-of-age, which is appealing. The author's environment feels authentic, the characters are animated and have dimension. I have a small concern about it dipping into stereotype and predictability, i.e. the goofy sidekick friend, the love interest, the hidden microchip or piece of technology that will change or destroy the world, all obvious characters. I am interested in continuing on with the story and see how this plays out. In order to keep it fresh, the characters will have to emerge with original traits and actions, and the story needs to have some twists that keep the reader off-kilter.

So for those of you that have read The Card, you can decide for yourself whether the reviews hit home or not. 

Personally, I have to agree with them. 

In the end, this has been a great experience, and I was happy to make it into the top 20% with my debut novel. As I grow as an author, I’ll eliminate the weak links. The sequel starts off with a bang and doesn’t let up from there. Maybe one day soon, I’ll post the first chapter to give you a taste of what’s to come.
For now, I thank you all for the support you have given me in helping make The Card, a #1 bestselling novel on the Kindle Bestseller list.

Please take a moment to let me know your thoughts on the above reviews in the comments section below.


  1. Well, congrats on make it to the top 20% ... this coming from a dude who wallowed with the unwashed masses in the bottom 80%.