Saturday, January 22, 2011
ABNA submission window will finally be open for 2011. I am nervous, excited, overwhelmed, fired up and tired. I've never entered before but, more importantly, this is my first practice stab at querying, and it's really all about the feedback and the experience, at this point!
I'm still not entirely sure what exactly I want to write about, with respect to the contest, but I am feeling the need to sort of chronicle the experience, both for myself, and for anyone else who may be considering entering themselves.
That being said, there is a very strong chance that I won't make it past the first round, which I thought would probably render all of my musings sort of moot. However, as I keep reminding myself, it truly is about the experience, and as with most things, even failure can be something to learn from.
Sometimes you can even learn more.
As I mentioned at the start, the submissions portal does not even open for another day and a half, or so, which gives me plenty of time to finish getting my entry ready for midnight tomorrow. Yes, I know it'll take longer than a few hours to reach the maximum 5000 entries in the General Fiction category, but I am a sucker for a countdown, and paranoid about missing my chance. I suppose I also just enjoy feeling like a part of the community from time to time, as well. So I will be up until the wee hours, doing my part to bottleneck the server while I upload my precious entry documents in the opening moments of the submission deadline. That's just how I roll.
I think I worked harder on my pitch than I did on anything else. The first round is dependent solely on the pitch, and if I hope to get any feedback on my actual book at all out of this contest, I need to make it through that first round. Plus, if I make it through, I might just use that same pitch for querying, as well. Now, I know that making it to Round 2 is really based mostly on luck and the mood of the person reading the pitch. Which means my pitch could be great, and not make it through - or terrible, yet squeak by somehow. I know not to base my whole opinion of my entry on the results of this process.
Still - getting through would be a big boost.
I've been getting feedback on my pitch both from people who know me (and who have read the novel), as well as the very helpful folks over on the massive Amazon Pitch Thread. I've been learning a lot on the ABNA forums, both at Amazon.com and CreateSpace.com. There's a true cross-section of participants from around the globe, with varying levels of experience and knowledge of both the contest and the publishing world at large. I've kept copies of most of my pitch revisions, from my first attempt through to the mostly ready-ish version that I will be submitting tomorrow night, and it's crazy how much it's changed along the way. Many thanks to everyone who's been helping me out with THAT...pitches are HARD!
Also helpful, in a way, has been the thread of winning pitches from 2010. It still feels like a crap-shoot, of course, but at least I'm not panicking as much about making it through as I was. At first, I was trying to make my pitch somehow perfect - which is impossible, really. I was caught up in how, out of 5000 entries, only 1000 will go through to Round 2. And I was worrying because - why me? Now, however, I am feeling a bit better; a bit stronger. Now I am trying to take the approach of - why NOT me?
I've got my pitch. I have an excerpt which is - okay. Not great. My first chapter is too long to fit in entirely, so I found an okay-ish place to cut it off within the 5000 word limit. It's not fantastic, but maybe the Collins girls will surprise me once again, and capture the imagination of whichever reviewers get to read the excerpt (in Round 2), and they will pass us on through to the Quarter Finals. I am not so confident about that stage, but you never know. And, if all else fails, I will at least get some feedback on the excerpt if I make it to Round 2, so that's good. Even if the feedback isn't great. *shrugs*
I did a quick skimming edit of the excerpt, just in case, and then had to make the manuscript match. Like cutting your own hair, or picking at a scab, I couldn't stop there. Now I am in the final stage of applying that same quick skimming edit to the entire manuscript. I had to re-format it for the contest submission, anyway, so this is really just a slightly longer version of that process. ;)
I will finish editing tomorrow. Everything - including the optional author bio, book description and author photo - will be formatted and saved in an ABNA folder on my desktop, ready to go. I'll be ready to start the submission process by 12:01am on the 24th, and will head to bed once I'm satisfied that everything has gone through.
And then I'll wait. And pray. And drink. And check the forums obsessively. And wait some more.
For the start of Round 2. For better or for worse.
Because it is, after all, about the experience.