Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award

Penguin Group (USA) and Announce the Fifth Annual Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award to Launch on January 23rd, 2012

Competition Will Award Two Grand Prize Winners, One for General Fiction and One for Best Young Adult Novel, to be Published by Penguin Group (USA)

Writers around the world are encouraged to begin preparing their manuscripts for entry into the competition, which will open on January 23th, 2012. Eligible writers with an English-language novel can submit their work between January 23 and February 5, 2012. Up to 5,000 each in the general fiction and young adult categories will be accepted. Submission details can be found at

Initial Round: Amazon editors will select up to 1,000 entries from each category to advance to the next round.

Quarter-Finals: Expert reviewers from Amazon will read excerpts of the 2,000 entries and narrow the pool to 500 quarter-finalists (250 in each category).

Semi-Finals: Reviewers from Publishers Weekly will then read, rate and review the full manuscripts, and 50 semi-finalists for each category will be selected.

Finals: Penguin editors will evaluate the manuscripts of the 50 general fiction and 50 Young Adult semi-finalists, and choose three finalists for each award.

Grand Prize Winners: Amazon customers will have seven days to vote for a Grand Prize Winner in each category. Two panels of esteemed publishing professionals will post their critiques of all the finalists on The two Grand Prize Winners will be announced in Seattle on June 16, 2012. Each winner will receive a publishing contract with Penguin, which includes a $15,000 advance.

For complete terms and conditions for the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award and more information about the contest, please visit

General Fiction Expert Panel:

Young Adult Expert Panel:

  • Andrea Cremer, author of Nightshade, Wolfsbane and Bloodrose (Philomel, Jan 2012)
  • Regina Hayes, President and Publisher, Viking Children's Books
  • Charlie Olsen, literary agent, InkWell Management

General Fiction Expert Panel:

Linda Fairstein
Linda Fairstein Linda Fairstein is one of America's foremost legal experts on crimes of sexual assault and domestic violence. She led the Sex Crimes Unit of the District Attorney's Office in Manhattan for 26 years. Her 12 previous Alexandra Cooper novels have been critically acclaimed, international bestsellers, translated into more than a dozen languages. Her newest addition to the series, Night Watch, will be on sale in July.

Photo by Peter Simon

Anne Sowards
Anne Sowards Anne Sowards is an executive editor at Penguin Group (USA) Inc., where she primarily acquires and edits fantasy and science fiction for the Ace and Roc imprints. Some of the great authors she works with include Jim Butcher, Patricia Briggs, Rachel Caine, Anne Bishop, Ilona Andrews, Jack Campbell, Karen Chance, and Rob Thurman. When she's not reading, she listens to Chinese rap and spends way too much time playing video games. Follow her at

Donald Maass
Donald Maass A literary agent in New York, Donald Maass's agency sells more than 150 novels every year to major publishers in the U.S. and overseas. He is the author of The Career Novelist (1996), Writing the Breakout Novel (2001), Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook (2004), The Fire in Fiction (2009) and The Breakout Novelist (2011). He is a past president of the Association of Authors' Representatives, Inc.

Young Adult Expert Panel:

Andrea Cremer
Andrea Cremer Andrea Cremer is the New York Times bestselling author of the Nightshade trilogy. She spent her childhood daydreaming while roaming the forests and lakeshores of northern Wisconsin. She went to school until there wasn't any more school to go to, ending up with a Ph.D. in early modern history—a reflection of her fascination with witchcraft and warfare. She currently lives in Minnesota, where she teaches at Macalester College and hands out with her husband, pug, border collie and parakeet. Learn more about her at

Photo by Gina Monroe

Regina Hayes
Regina Hayes Regina Hayes joined Viking in 1982 as Editorial Director and is currently President and Publisher of Viking Children's Books. Prior to that, she was Executive Editor at Dial Books for Young Readers. Over the course of her career, she has worked with many talented writers, including Sarah Dessen, Rosemary Wells, Mildred Taylor, Jon Scieszka, Joan Bauer, and Elizabeth George.

Charlie Olsen
Charlie Olsen Charlie Olsen is an agent at InkWell Management, where he started his publishing career in 2007. He represents both fiction and non-fiction—young adult, middle-grade, picture books, suspense/thrillers, sci-fi/fantasy, comics and graphic novels, and narrative non-fiction—including bestseller Andrea Cremer (Nightshade, Wolfsbane, Bloodrose) and Harvey and Eisner-award nominated comic artist/writer Matt Kindt (Superspy, 3-Story, Revolver). Prior to InkWell, Charlie covered a beat at a newswire in the District of Columbia, and wrote for two newspapers in New Jersey. His Twitter handle is @ComicsisPeople.