Amazon (s AMZN) announced its sixth annual “Breakthrough Novel Award” Tuesday morning. The contest, which in past years offered grand-prize winners a $15,000 advance and a contract with big-six publisher Penguin, will now give the winner a $50,000 advance and a contract with Amazon Publishing. This, says Amazon, means “a faster publishing timeline, higher royalties, ability to launch the books in multiple formats (print, audio, ebook) and worldwide distribution.”
The changes to the contest aren’t surprising. This year, with the launch of Amazon Publishing’s New York imprint and the Department of Justice’s antitrust case against five of the big-six publishers (which publishers believe will benefit Amazon by reducing competition for ebooks), it would seemed strange if Amazon continued to work with a traditional publisher.
The contest accepts submissions in five categories: General fiction, mystery/thriller, romance, science fiction/fantasy/horror, and young adult fiction. (These areas coincide with the categories that Amazon publishes in.) In addition to the grand prize winner selected by Amazon customers, four finalists will also be selected and will each get a $15,000 advance and a contract with Amazon Publishing.
Another change: In past years, submissions were judged by traditional publishing figures — literary agents, editors and authors. This year, submissions will be judged by Amazon reviewers, Publishers Weekly reviewers (who also judged submissions in past years) and Amazon Publishing editors.
The most well-known Breakthrough Novel Award participant is probably Colleen Hoover, whose self-published Slammed was a finalist in 2012. The book and its sequel went on to hit the New York Times ebook bestseller list, and were picked up by Simon & Schuster’s Atria imprint in August.
Photo courtesy of Flickr / William Christiansen