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Can genre break through?

I couldn't remember the time frame for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest, so I checked. If you're interested, they got their 5,000 entrants already. They're now busy making sure the entrants all meet their eligibility requirements. It's not clear, but from the FAQ, it sounds like Amazon "Top Reviewers" and Amazon editors are also reading the excerpts (first 5,000 words) of the entries and selecting the 1,000 Semi-Finalists. Starting January 15, they will begin posting the excerpts for those 1,000 semi-finalists for Amazon customers and Publishers Weekly editors to rate and review. The FAQ says that Penguin editors will then select and read the complete manuscript for up to 100 [emphasis mine] "Top Semi-Finalist" entries based on that feedback. At that point, Penguin editors will select 10 entries from the 100 as Finalists. Amazon customers will then pick the winner from the finalists.

That's the (somewhat complicated) contest logistics. I found this information (posted by Amazon) on the contest entrants interesting:

* Registered authors represent nearly 2,000 different cities worldwide and 22 countries (including South Africa, Denmark, Malaysia, Argentina, and more)

* There is at least one author from every one of the 50 states (and the District of Columbia, too) registered for the contest

* Of the novels submitted for consideration, 42% fall into the general fiction category; 25% are mystery, thriller, and suspense; 18% are science fiction and fantasy; 8% are historical fiction, and 7% are romance.

I found the breakdown by genre to be the most interesting statistic. My perception from attending the Pikes Peak Writers Conference for four years is that a huge percentage of aspiring writers are writing speculative fiction. But in this contest, only 18 percent of the m.s.s. were classified as science fiction or fantasy. Did I somehow attract my own ilk more at PPWC? (Could there be a spec fic pheromone?) Was that conference not representative of the general writerly population? Or did spec fic writers not try to enter this contest, somehow assuming that genre didn't have a chance? I can only assume the romance writers thought that, because I believe there a huge number of them.

Difficult to say for spec fic.


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