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Ask Daphne! About that other contest…

amazonmjNo, again, not MY Contest! Heather writes about the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest:

I’ve recently quarterfinaled in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. I haven’t queried since the quarterfinalists were announced, but I have several prior submissions still pending review. My question is whether participating in ABNA is something an author should mention when querying, and whether my quarterfinalist status should be disclosed to the agents who are currently reading my manuscript.

I understand that the ABNA contest is new and unproven. Is participating something I need to disclose to agents at the query level? Or when they’ve requested materials? I’ve seen a couple of agents blog that quoting ABNA Publisher’s Weekly reviews or mentioning semi-finalist status does not help and might work against the querier. Is that the general feeling? Or at this point in the competition, when winners have not been decided, would it be viewed more favorably?

Since I’m planning for a career in writing, I will continue to seek representation, even if my participation in ABNA should result in a direct offer of publication.

First of all, Heather, congrats! May I suggest rewarding yourself with these lovely shoes for yourself, which you can find on Amazon?

Unlike the Delacorte contest, there’s nothing as far as I know in the rules for the ABNA that keeps you from continuing to query, as you’ve been doing (and good for you!). At the quarterfinal level though, I’m not sure if I would bother to mention the contest in your queries. Maybe if you made it through to the semi-finals, which limited the field to 100 novels. Before that though, I’d consider it like getting a partial request from another agent: yes, it’s exciting, and you should be proud, but there’s a very small correlation between partial requests and offers of representation. Kinda like those 1 in 500 odds of making it from the quarterfinals of the ABNA to the winner’s circle.

So when should you tell agents about it? If they’ve requested your partial, and like it, and go on to ask for your full — THEN I would tell them — but only if you’re still in the running. Otherwise, you’re not crowing about your success, but reminding them that there’s other manuscripts out there that other people like better than yours.

Good luck!

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