This year my book HEAVEN once again made it to the quarterfinal round of the ABNA’s (Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards) which meant the book was reviewed by someone contracted by Publisher’s Weekly. Long story short, I can use snippets of the review when promoting the novel. The ones I plan on using are “straight forward and emotionally raw story” and “starts off strong and develops a genuine emotional connection between Nevaeh and Joshua.”
I’ve had a great run with this novel. It reached #1 in a couple of sub-categories on Amazon (the category dance on Amazon is tough enough for indie writers, but especially frustrating for YA indie writers whose leads are characters of color. That’s a whole ‘nother post that I have to rant about).
But going back to the title of this post, “Why more writers of color need to enter the ABNA’s” or for that matter, other writing contests, is because our voices DO MATTER. Far too often quotes like “I’d love to include more books with characters of color, but none have come my way” from publishers or agents or editors seem to suggest that minorities aren’t writing or submitting books. We are. However, what a budding author has no control over is whether your work is accepted or passed over. With contests like Amazon’s, at least your work is seen and can be read on one of the largest internet sites. So if you make it to the quarterfinals, your excerpt stays up for over a month, which could generate sales across the board (that’s what happened in my case) and also more hits on your website.
This is all free publicity, which a novice writer trying to appeal to readers in their genre need. While I can’t say that ABNA is solely responsible for my sales (I promote on Dear Author and also on Goodreads, Twitter and Facebook) HEAVEN has been a consistent seller for me, and at one time it was a best seller. I do believe networking with other authors on the ABNA discussion threads and exchanging info on publishing can help many newbies. In addition, well established authors like Colleen Hoover (who ironically, was cut from a prior ABNA in the early rounds) post words of encouragement from time to time.
And true, while the ABNA is one way, its not the only way. But all authors need every bit of exposure they can get. Readers can’t buy your product if they don’t know it exists. And for readers interested in multicultural works, the beginning and middle stages of the ABNA’s hold promise for those who need help with book blurbs and excerpts. Each year there are entrants willing and able to help with smoothing out both book descriptions and excerpts. And who knows? One day the ABNA finalists will include books with diverse characters. Ones that include transgender, gay, or bi-sexual leads who are also of color, or in a wheelchair, or use sign language to communicate. That’s what diversity means to me, so I already have an idea which book I’ll enter next year: