where the writers are
You Takes Yo' Lumps

I had a novel manuscript I was particularly proud of and when my writing pal, Lyn, mentioned the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards, I said what the hell, and I entered. Mine went into the general fiction category, and Lyn, who has written a bang-up young adult novel, entered the YA category. 

The first cut was made today, following a review of a "pitch" made by the authors for their novels, much as one would send as a query to a literary agency. Lyn paid attention to the criteria for said "pitch" and so did I - - up to about an 80% point. She made the cut - I didn't.

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The moral of this fable is this: when you're in competition with so many other writers, the absolute minimum you must do is follow the directions. This is the difference in having your query read by an agent and having it ignored. Each agent wants to see certain things in a certain way - no matter how irrelevant it might seem. Give it to 'em, and you'll get that serious read.