Is Your Novel Ready to Go?

By Maeve Maddox

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If you have completed the manuscript of a novel, you may want to consider entering the Second Annual Breakthrough Novel Award Contest sponsored by Amazon and Penguin.

Last year’s Grand Prize winner, chosen from a field of 5,000 entries, received a publishing contract and $25,000: Fresh Kills by Bill Loehfelm.

The contest rules contain plenty of small print, so go to the contest site and read them carefully before deciding to enter.

Here’s some general information to help you decide whether or not you’re interested.

You have until February 2 to get your entry ready.

The contest is open to legal residents (13 years and older) of the following countries:

Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada (excluding the Province of Québec), China, Denmark, Finland, Germany, India, Ireland, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Romania, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, the United States (the 50 states and D.C.), and the United Kingdom.

Employees or relatives of employees of the sponsoring companies are not eligible.

Fiction: unpublished novel by one author (No short stories. No poetry, No previously published work. No collaborations. No illustrations.)
Language: English
Length: 50,000-150,000 words
Format: digital files (Microsoft Word .doc, .docx, or .rtf)
a. the complete manuscript
b. excerpt (the first 3,000-5,000 words)
c. 300-word pitch that describes the work and tells why anyone would want to read it

Submissions will be accepted beginning at 12:01 EST on February 2.
Submissions window will remain open until February 8, OR until 10,000 manuscripts have been received.

Contest Phases
Round One: On the basis of your pitch, Amazon reviewers narrow the submissions to 2,000.
Round Two: Submissions are narrowed to 500. Excerpts are displayed at; Publishers Weekly reads, rates, and reviews the full manuscripts.
Round Three: Submissions are narrowed to 100. Penguin reviewers read and rank the 100, from which they narrow the field to three.
Final Round: customers vote.

If your novel is one of the three finalists, it will be read and reviewed by Sue Monk Kidd and Sue Grafton. How cool is that!

I’ll repeat, the information given here is very general. Go to the following links for complete details of the rules governing the contest:


Keep learning! Browse the Fiction Writing category, check our popular posts, or choose a related post below:

14 Responses to “Is Your Novel Ready to Go?”

  • annie


  • Iain Broome

    Interesting stuff. Thanks for posting the info – I’ll head on over now to check it out.

  • KUan Guat Choo

    I wish there were more of such opportunities for us to submit our work. I certainly look forwad to submitting my manuscript including the cover page which has already been designed.

  • Maeve

    KUan Guat Choo,
    I think that when you read the official contest rules, you’ll find that a cover page is not wanted.

    Good luck with your submission.

  • Jean Barton

    About the contest – 161 pages to read to enter?

    > The older we get, the fewer things seem worth waiting in line for. >


    Does the format mean I have to send all 3.
    a. the complete manuscript
    b. the 3,000 to 5,000 words excerpt
    c. the 300 words sales pitch?

    If so, then I had better hurry up and get everything in order

  • Maeve

    Yes, that’s how I understand the directions. Just entering this contest is a major undertaking.


    Phew!! It is! It is! A major undertaking.

  • Jéssica de la Portilla Montaño

    I finished a novel last year and I’m finishing the one I’m posting on my blog (if you want to learn some Spanish, lol)… But my country is missing on that list!

  • Jeanette Cheezum

    Good luck to everyone. 🙂

  • Jeanette Cheezum

    Can this be attached or do we have to put it in the body of the email?

  • Maeve

    For details of submitting for the contest, you’ll have to rely on the instructions on the official site.

    Good luck


    I have been trying to open the official contest site to view what information is required to submit my application to enter the contest. I waited for 3 hours and the downloading stopped at 59% and refused to continue downloading. What else must I do as it is only 2 days more before the submission of the entries.

  • Jeanette Cheezum

    When will we find out if we have been elimated? Thank you in advance.

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