Amazon.com recently launched the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest, which will allow the public to weigh in on the selection process. The winning author will receive a $25,000 advance and publication by Penguin. Amazon calls the competition "an opportunity for our customers to have an exciting, significant voice in the process of discovering a new novelist."
Amazon will accept five thousand English-language novel manuscripts through November. A group of Amazon’s editors and top-rated reviewers will narrow the entry pool to a thousand semifinalists, which will receive a full review by Publishers Weekly. All reviews of the semifinalists will appear on Amazon, along with five thousand-word novel excerpts. Readers may download excerpts and reviews and post their own comments.
Penguin will then consider the reviews and reader comments to narrow the field to a hundred. After each of the remaining manuscripts receives two additional readings by Penguin editors, the publisher will select ten finalists, whose work will be reviewed once more on Amazon by a panel including National Book Critics Circle president John Freeman, author Elizabeth Gilbert, and agent Eric Simonoff.
Finally, readers will vote, from March 3 to March 31, to select the winning novelist.
The winner, to be announced on April 7, will receive a book contract from Penguin that Tim McCall, the publisher’s director of online sales and marketing, says is "designed for someone who is getting their start in the business." Hewlett Packard will also provide a prize package. At the conclusion of the contest, all entrants will have the opportunity to sell their books on Amazon free of charge through the CreateSpace self-publishing service.