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Amazon tweaks its Breakthrough Novel Award Contest and drops former partner Penguin

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(Read caption) Penguin Group formerly published the winners of Amazon's novel-writing contest.

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Amazon, already on thin ice with many publishing houses and independent bookstores ("Amazon aggressively wants to kill us," novelist/bookstore owner Ann Patchett said at BookExpo America this year), took a swipe at former partner Penguin Publishing in an announcement about their Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest.

Through the contest – which is now in its sixth year – Amazon selects a grand prize winner who receives a publishing contract with a $50,000 advance. Four other contest entrants are awarded the title of first prize and receive publishing contracts, each with a $15,000 advance. Contestants are challenged to submit a pitch, an excerpt of their novel, and the full manuscript.

Previously, Amazon had collaborated with Penguin, which published the novels of the contest winners. This year, however, Amazon Publishing will be its own publisher.

“Amazon Publishing is the official publishing sponsor for 2013 – which means a faster publishing timeline, higher royalties, ability to launch the books in multiple formats (print, audio, ebook) and worldwide distribution,” the website for the contest reads.

We’re guessing that these claims of superior performance won’t be gaining Amazon any new friends in the publishing world.

The contest is undergoing other changes this year, including adding three new categories: mystery/thriller, romance, and science fiction/fantasy. Also, entries will now be judged by editors from Amazon Publishing. Previously, editors from Penguin and a panel of industry experts and writers made the selections.


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