There were 7 pages of FAQ's, and I read through all of them, some several times. Some of the requirements were very confusing, and I won't really know if I got them right for awhile -- apparently rejections because of technical and/or formatting issues are common. In addition to that, Amazon.com required the submission to be in Word format. I hate Word. I don't understand why *everyone* doesn't hate word. I usually use Appleworks, and apparently I'm spoiled by its simplicity -- it's like going from driving my car to trying to drive a 1908 Ford delivery truck; all those extra levers and controls!
In addition, my laptop doesn't have Word -- just Works, and for some reason Works documents don't travel well in this contest. I ended up using the work computer, and even there had to fight to figure out some things I've never had trouble with before. Between the Word fight and the confusion over some of Amazon.com's submission requirements, I'm really drained and edgy right now. For instance, they required four documents: the manuscript; a 5,000 word excerpt; a "bibliography"; and a cover art image. They made it pretty plain that a cover art image wasn't necessary, but the "bibliography" requirement wasn't clear at all, and I struggled for some time to figure out what they meant. It turns out that's not a document at all -- when you go to submit, they ask you the specific questions for that section -- no document needed! Gah.
Then, when I did hit "enter", they had sections requiring a synopsis (I should have seen that coming, but I had to come up with it on the fly) and a description of why I was inspired to write the book. Why I was inspired? Duh -- to get published. :-) But I think I did okay with that, too.
In other words, it was a lot like submitting to a regular publisher: It's important to have a good story, but the devil is in the details.
I'm not overly confident of winning, as the story I had ready was a rather simple, straightforward romantic comedy of the type that doesn't win prizes; this may explain why I never actually checked to see what the prized were. For those of you who are interested:
Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Grand Prize
One (1) Grand Prize will be awarded, consisting of:
A full publishing contract with Penguin to market and distribute Grand Prize winner's winning Manuscript as a published book, including promotion for such published book on Amazon.com.
Upon the full execution of the publishing contract, Penguin will pay the Grand Prize winner US $25,000. This US $25,000 payment is an advance against the royalties to be earned by the Grand Prize winner under the publishing contract.
The publishing contract with Penguin is not negotiable, and Grand Prize winner must sign "as is" (as described in Rules) if he/she wishes to enter into the publishing contract being awarded. The publishing contract will provide for payment to the author of a non-refundable advance of $25,000 against anticipated royalties for world rights in all languages with hardcover royalties of 10% on the first 5000 units sold; 12 ½% on the next 5000 units and 15% thereafter. Trade paperback royalties are 7 ½% and mass market royalties are for 8% for the first 150,000 units sold and 10% thereafter. First US publication format (i.e., hardcover, trade paperback or mass market) will be determined in publisher's sole discretion based on, among other factors, the type of book and market conditions.
Grand Prize winner will also receive prizes provided by Hewlett-Packard Company:
HP 50-inch plasma television (ARV US $2,000);
One (1) HP Digital Entertainment Center (ARV US $3,000);
One (1) HP Notebook (ARV US $1,000);
One (1) HP LaserJet printer (ARV US $400); and
One (1) HP PhotoSmart Digital Camera (ARV US $270).
Total ARV of the Grand Prize is US $31,670. Model of HP prize components to be determined by Sponsors; some models may be substituted for similar products at Sponsors' sole discretion. HP prize components are provided by Hewlett-Packard Company.
A First Prize will be awarded to each Top Three Finalist (three First Prizes total).
Each First Prize shall consist of a trip to New York City, NY (or such other city Sponsors select at their discretion) (the "Venue") between April 2, 2008 and April 8, 2008 (exact dates to be determined by Sponsors). First Prize includes:
Round trip coach class air transportation for two leaving from the major airport nearest to each Top Three Finalist's home;
Three (3) to five (5) nights' standard hotel accommodations (double occupancy);
Transfers to/from airport in the Venue;
Final awards dinner; and
One Hundred Dollars (US $100) in spending money per day
Total ARV of each First Prize is US $3,000. The actual value will depend on each Top Three Finalist's city of departure. Sponsor may substitute surface transportation for air travel if any Finalist lives near destination. If the actual value is less than the stated ARV, the difference will not be awarded in cash. All expenses not specifically mentioned herein, including but not limited to any taxes, additional transportation/transfers, additional food and beverages, and gratuities, are the sole responsibility of each Top Three Finalist.
Top Three Finalists must travel on dates specified by Sponsors, or may forfeit the First Prize and the opportunity to win the Grand Prize, unless a waiver to travel as described above is obtained by Sponsors. Any Top Three Finalist who is not a U.S. resident will be responsible for obtaining all required travel documents for travel to the U.S., including a passport and any visa that may be required. Entrants warrant that they are unaware of any reason that they would be unable to travel during this period. Selected airline and hotel are at the sole discretion of Sponsors. Certain restrictions and black out dates apply, and exact travel dates and arrangements are subject to availability.
A Second Prize will be awarded to each Finalist, excluding the Finalist who is selected as the Grand Prize winner (nine Second Prizes total).
Each Second Prize shall consist of the following prizes from Hewlett-Packard:
HP 50-inch plasma television (ARV US $2,000);
one (1) HP Notebook (ARV US $1,000); and
one (1) HP LaserJet printer (ARV US $400).
Model of HP prize components to be determined by Sponsors; some models may be substituted for similar products at Sponsors' sole discretion.
In addition, each Second Prize will consist of a "Total Design Freedom" self-publishing package from BookSurge (ARV US $2,400); and a Publishers Weekly manuscript review of the Finalist's Entry. The Publishers Weekly manuscript review may be used by the Finalist in marketing and promoting the Manuscript provided the Manuscript as published does not materially change from the manuscript reviewed.
Total ARV of each First Prize is US $5,800.
A Third Prize will be awarded to each Semi-Finalist , excluding those selected as Finalists (maximum of 990 Third Prizes total).
Each Third Prize will consist of a Publishers Weekly manuscript review of each Semi-Finalist's Manuscript; a CreateSpace self-publishing package and a 15% discount on publishing services offered by Booksurge. The Publishers Weekly manuscript review may be used by a Third Prize winner in marketing and promoting the Manuscript provided the Manuscript as published does not materially change from the Manuscript reviewed.
A Fourth Prize will be awarded to each entrant (maximum of 5,000 Fourth Prizes total).
Each Fourth Prize will consist of a free proof copy of the entrant's Manuscript from CreateSpace (ARV US $15). To receive proof copy, entrant will be required to create a CreateSpace account and accept the CreateSpace terms and conditions.
Total ARV of all prizes is US $167,870. Winners are responsible for paying all costs and expenses related to the prizes that are not specifically mentioned, including, but not limited to, taxes. All prizes will be awarded "AS IS" and WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, express or implied (including, without limitation, any implied warranty of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose).
I'm kind of stoked about the possibility of getting a second prize.