My entry didn't make it into the quarter finals of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest. For this round, Amazon's "Expert Reviewers" read the first 3-5000 words of each novel and scored them based on four factors:
a) Overall Strength of Excerpt
d) Originality of IdeaEach excerpt was given a score of one to five in each of these areas, and the 250 excerpts with the highest scores in each category made it into the quarter finals. Fortunately, contestants in the second round were able to see the reviews of the expert reviewers. After reading the reviews, I felt a lot better about not having made it into the quarter finals. I feel as though part of it is the luck of the draw - whether or not reviewers like the kind of stuff you write. In this post, I'll respond to the reviewer who liked my excerpt. In my next post, I'll respond to the reviewer who wasn't very keen on it.
ABNA Expert Reviewer
What is the strongest aspect of this excerpt?I really enjoyed the lightness of this excerpt. No crazy science fiction characters to remember, no wild names, no underwater cities-just a well written coming of age story. It reminds me a bit of "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants." And Turkey! I don't know if I have ever read a book aimed at young women set in Turkey, so not only are we getting a fun read, but perhaps there is an educational aspect here as well. I really like books, especially for my teens, that teach us something without preaching, and what better way to do that than with a romance/adventure story like this one!
----->my response: Thank you! You totally get what I was trying to write. I was trying to write a light, enjoyable story from which the reader can also learn something. And the comparison to The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants? I make the mental comparison myself, but didn't want to be presumptuous in comparing myself to such a famous series.
What aspect needs the most work?As of right now, I like it the way it is! The one issue I have sometimes with stories like this is that the adults are often written almost as after thoughts. The focus is the younger characters, it is a young adult novel after all, but I don't think that means the parents or other adults need to be one dimensional. Giving the adults believable personalities-quirks and all-only makes this MORE realistic. Just because teens live in their own world, or seem to anyways, doesn't mean the adults around them regress to one dimensional beings. Make sure the adults aren't simply there to create dissension or solve problems.
------>my response: I completely understand your concern. As you said, it's hard to focus on all the characters, but I did actually attempt to make the parents more than one dimensional. If you'd had the opportunity to read the whole book, your worries would have dissipated.
What is your overall opinion of this excerpt?I enjoyed it! Many young adult novels these days are all about vampires, werewolves, or mythological creatures, but this is just a well written story about a young girl seeking a new experience. Turkey isn't a country that we often think of-I don't think it has the allure of France or the adventure if Italy, but it sounds like a beautiful country, and a coming of age story set in a new locale would be a wonderfully light read for the summer. I truly enjoyed this excerpt.
-----> my response: Wow, thank you! You understand what I was trying to write! I think Turkey as a destination does have allure and adventure, but because it's such an unknown, these are just not the first things anyone in the US thinks about when they think of Turkey. I hope you get the book and read the rest! I think you'll like it.