Well, it looks like I got my (very irritating) ABNA experience on the books just in time. The Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award is officially kaput, according to an announcement on the ABNA forums, and will be kinda-sorta-not-really replaced by the new Kindle Scout program.
Anonymous ABNA Administrator has this to say about the switch:
This fall we opened Kindle Scout as a reader-powered publishing platform that offers authors an opportunity to earn a guaranteed advance, a decision on publication in 45 days or less, the ability to retain print rights, and Amazon marketing for published books. Since launch, more than 20,000 readers have nominated the stories they want to see published and we have selected 16 original novels to be released early this year, with more chosen every week. In 2015 instead of hosting the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award in its current form we will be using our new Kindle Scout program to discover and publish even more breakthrough novels throughout the year. Over time, we look forward to adding features to Kindle Scout and opening the program to even more authors and genres.
Lots and lots of angry ABNA hopefuls have this to say:
Are you freakin’ kidding me?
Now, I’m no fan of the ABNA slaughterhouse, which starts with a lottery, moves on to the fickle finger of whimsical fancy, and ends with a bored Publisher’s Weekly intern slitting open your thorax and frying up your heart for supper. But for tens of thousands of people, the international contest is a yearly source of hope in a world that is mostly about crushing your dreams. ABNA cost nothing, was open to anyone in the world, promised big rewards, and perhaps most importantly, accepted novels that had already been self-published.
Kindle Scout, Amazon’s new show-and-tell that looks primarily geared towards romance writers (but accepts a smattering of other genre fiction), still costs nothing. But it’s only open to Americans with American bank accounts, which has gotten a lot of foreigners up in arms. And most importantly, will only accept entirely unpublished manuscripts for consideration.
This seems silly to me, considering what a huge player Kindle has become in the self-publishing world. Everyone uses KDP. Everyone is trying to grab a piece of the Amazon publicity pie. Everyone knows you really can’t get anywhere without Amazon’s blessing…yet books published through Amazon’s own self-publishing system are ineligible for Amazon’s own cash prizes?
That’s why this Kindle Scout thing isn’t a direct replacement for ABNA. It’s also much, much more geared towards friend-farming than ABNA ever was. Kindle Scout relies on public votes to push books towards the finish line. So if you’ve got a massive Twitter following or a rabid Facebook hoard on your hands, you’re a million times more likely to succeed than someone who has written a damn good book but doesn’t have the social media savvy to get enough votes in 30 days to launch your submission into the top ranks (ahem…me).
In general, I think it’s another one of those things that’s good news for Amazon and bad news for everyone else. Are we surprised? No, probably not. I wasn’t planning to enter the contest again, so it’s not too big of a disappointment for me.
But what about you guys? Are you annoyed by this? Does Kindle Scout look interesting to you? Is it just another hollow promise on the part of a publishing goliath that chews up and spits out hard-working authors for fun? Are you going to submit stuff anyway? Let me know in the comments…even if you’re not American.