I’m Not a Finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest

Every run of good luck comes to an end.

Today, Iย  must confide a sad fact. My phone did not ring on May 14th. My email did not get a note from Amazon. I did not advance to the finals (Top 3) in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest.

I still get to retain my title of semifinalist (Top 50). I still get to keep 3rd prize and 2nd prize. I got to place in the contest. That’s pretty awesome. I’ve been able to add it to my bio paragraph in my query letter. I have more writing credentials. Logically, I am thrilled that I made it one round, let alone 3 rounds in this contest.

But when the phone didn’t ring, sadness settled over me. My mind knew it wasn’t the end of the world. There was still laundry to be done. Queries to be sent out. And that gosh darn sun would rise the next day like nothing happened.

Inside, it just felt like the end of my world right now. At 34, I felt the searing sadness of a teenager. Like everything was collapsing inward.

It was the death of a hope. After making it three rounds, I thought I had a shot at the finals. Granted only 20% advanced each round. And as a semifinalist, I only had a 6% chance of making it to the finals. So mathematically, my hope should have dwindled.

I had this really intense dream a week and a half ago too. I saw on a computer screen that I did not make the finals. And I woke up so downtrodden and certain that I hadn’t made them. I tried to shake the feeling and say it was only a dream, but it felt too real. Maybe it was intuition or my mind preparing me for the probable loss.

I am so grateful to have been in the contest and really appreciate the Amazon and PW reviews. For a free contest, I gained so many fantastic prizes.

But this week, I’m going to let myself feel the loss. Appreciate the previous wins. And know there’s another route to publication for me.

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72 Responses to I’m Not a Finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest

  1. 4amWriter says:

    Kourtney, I am so, so, so, terribly sorry. I was thinking about you and the finals yesterday, as a matter of fact. I was wondering when you were going to hear about your status.

    You have been on an amazing ride, that’s for sure. Being a part of that contest through all of those rounds must have been thrilling, invigorating, and nerve-wracking. You held up quite well.

    I have no doubt that, even though you didn’t quite get the placement you’d hoped for, you will see a lot of activity on the frontlines of Query Battle. I would be stunned if this little blurb of experience on your queries doesn’t get a few requests for partials.

    I know you’ll keep us posted. My thoughts and hugs are with you ๐Ÿ™‚


    • Thanks Kate. I wanted to take a couple days to wallow and be sad before I announced. Because logically I knew I had very little reason to be sad. I mean I placed in a contest I didn’t think I would ever advance in. But my emotions just needed a few days to catch up with my mind. Seriously, it’s been a really cool few months. Every month I was delighted to advance and couldn’t quite believe it was happening. I’ve heard many semifinalists go on to find agents and book contracts, so I do have hope. I just keep sending queries out. Hoping this blurb helps in the query. It did get me a couple requests last week. Fingers crossed.

      Will definitely keep you posted. And thanks for the hugs, they are much needed and much appreciated this week. ๐Ÿ™‚


  2. kford2007 says:

    Oh, Kourtney, I’m so sorry. I was really, really praying for you. You’d come so far and I loved reading your enthusiasm.

    Oh well. There will be more contest. There are definitely more agents and publishers, but I know how you feel. It’s like the wind’s been sucked out of your sails and a hollow feeling sits in your gut. (((hugs)))). You did great!!! So many other didn’t get as close as you. That may be little consolation now, but in reality, it’s a HUGE accomplishment and one you should be proud of. Amazon just wasn’t the right home for your novel. Something better is in store for it and you.

    I applaud you. Well done. What a valiant effort. Regardless of how proud I am of you, I offer my virtual shoulder to cry on. You deserve it. I also brought along some virtual cupcakes…triple chocolate…so you can bury your tears. Eat away, love Chocolate makes everything better. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thanks Jenny. It’s wonderful to know you were rooting for me. Very true–contests and agents abound. ๐Ÿ˜‰ It was hard to explain to friends how I felt, it wasn’t that I doubted my writing, I mean I made it pretty far on my writing. But I just felt the loss of a possible avenue to publication. I was 2 rounds away from a contract with Penguin. It was the two hardest rounds but it felt almost possible. You got it exactly right about the hollow feeling in my gut. I just lost hope for a day or two. I threw myself into my website yesterday and I felt like okay, maybe the new website will help me get an agent’s attention. It won’t be unveiled for a month or so, but it’s so fun to be tinkering with everything. Maybe this is a new possibility. That really helped.

      Jenny, your words are a huge consolation. I made the semifinals and that is something I can always say and be proud of. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Aw thanks. I appreciate the shoulder too. LOL. Virtual cupcakes are awesome. I love virtual chocolate–I can gorge on it and still fit into my pants. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. I’m so sorry Kourtney. Like you say it doesn’t matter that you did amazingly well, sometimes you have to feel the loss. But remember you were a semi-finalist and this is not your route to publication, you’ll get there a different way I know it. Don’t give up! But let yourself have a cry this week. Next week, onwards and upwards!

    • Thanks Victoria. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m happy I made the semifinals. That was an amazing couple of rounds to go through too. I really really wanted to make semis so I could get the PW review up on Amazon. The next round of course would be amazing too, but semis was truly lovely. I’m back to drafting my third novel and querying the other two. I let myself have two days of misery (and cried). I still have moments of downness but for the most part, I’m pushing forward. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. It's the little things that make life great.berry says:

    Bravo. You did great. Keep trying. It will happen.

  5. Sorry to hear that you didn’t make the finals, Kourtney. But keep on submitting! Your story will get published! ๐Ÿ˜€ Traci

  6. jmmcdowell says:

    I know something of how you feel. Having shopped my previous novel too soon, I gathered a few agent rejections. You will feel better soon, but there’s no reason to deny the grief and rejection. Some events in life hurt, and we shouldn’t try to bury or ignore the pain. It isn’t healthy.

    That being said, it’s wonderful that you recognize how many positive things have come from the experience. Adding that top 50 standing to your query letters is no small accomplishment. You made the TOP ONE PERCENT of the 5,000 entriesโ€”the only work of fantasy to reach that level. That’s an incredible accomplishment.

    I think you’ve reached the level Stephen King did just before he was first published. You’ve had agents request your manuscript. You made that top 1 percent of Amazon’s contest. You wouldn’t be this far if your writing was anything less than excellent.

    I honestly believe it won’t be long before we learn that your first novel will be published. And I’m going to try my hardest to be one of the first to get it! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Indulge in some comfort food and activities and rebuild your energy for the next leg of the marathon. You’ll rock it!

    • It hurts to lose a possibility. Every agent rejection is the end of one possibility. Same with the contest. It was like having a partial, then a full requested, then revisions requested, then a no. I got so far, I had thought I had a chance. I agree. You have to feel your way through all those emotions. I didn’t want to run from them. I wallowed for two days. Which doesn’t sound so long, but two days of being miserable felt like an eternity. Then yesterday I forced myself to do some work. And I started to feel hope flowing back into me. Perspective on the loss. It still hurts, but it doesn’t feel like the end of my world anymore.

      JM, the contest was one of the best experiences of my writing life. Thanks! That’s an awesome way of looking at it.

      Aw shucks, that would be awesome. To think I might be on the verge of being published.

      JM, when I get ARCs, I will make sure one ends up in your hands. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Um yeah, I kinda ate an entire container of Dutch Chocolate cookies. Last night I ate the chocolate chip ones. Not proud of it, but sometimes overeating helps. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. crubin says:

    I’m so sorry to hear you didn’t advance. You described perfectly that horrible, queasy feeling of disappointment we have all felt at one point or the other. But the fact that you made it in the top 50 is a remarkable feat, and one you should by all means include in your bio. Eventually the disappointment will fade, and the recognition of what an amazing accomplishment this was will earn its rightful place.

    Thank you for taking us on the journey with you. That isn’t always easy for a person to do.

    • Thanks Carrie. ๐Ÿ™‚ It was such a weird moment because I was still so proud to be a semifinalist, but so bummed to not be a finalist. My logic and my emotions were in completely different places. Making it as far as I did was truly wonderful and I don’t want to in any way be ungrateful for that. It just was the end of my forward momentum in the contest.

      It’s funny my dad told me write a positive blog about the experience and I said well there is that huge part of it, but I plan to write an honest blog about what I am also experiencing right now, which includes sadness and disappointment. Thanks for staying with me through this journey. It’s nice to tell my blog buds because you know just what to say to make me feel better. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Cat Forsley says:

    K …..
    YOU KNOW …..?
    I AM …
    MUCH LOVE AND HUGS ,,,,,,,,,

    • Catherine,
      Thanks so much! I do know what you mean. I won 3 rounds. That’s something. And I got so much out of the contest. So how could I feel like a loser? ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for cheering me up and onward. Yeah, my first instinct was to push it aside, then I realized I needed to just spend some time with it and let it run its course. My parents are absolute rocks of encouragement. They were sad we didn’t make it further but we made it really far. ๐Ÿ™‚

      LOL. My best friend said the same thing. This is just a beginning, not an ending. Thanks for being here. Hugs and love to you too. ๐Ÿ™‚

      That is such a beautiful song one of my favorites by Sade.

      Thanks so much. I really appreciate knowing I have a fellow writer and artist I can talk to who totally gets what this is like.

      Hugs and lots of love,

  9. Wow, how wonderful you advanced that far and did it at all. Sorry, though, I know it’s disappointing.

    • Very true Susan! I am incredibly lucky to have made it 3 rounds. It was quite a letdown to not advance to the finals, but I’m grateful to be a semifinalist. ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. jbw0123 says:

    While you feel the loss, we (your fans) are feeling the win. Making the quarterfinals is big deal. There is no question that your book pops. Winning the contest would be nice, but as you say, unlikely, just because of the numbers. It’s like trying to get into one of the top colleges. You can have straight A’s, be a member of the marching band, spend your summers in Haiti caring for malaria victims, be the star on the soccer team and the school plays and still get rejected by Harvard.

    This development is a logical outcome of a crap shoot, which will propel you in new and interesting directions. Thank you for the updates, good and bad. I’m pulling for you.

    • jbw0123 says:

      PS — I wonder how man Harvard turn-downs are valedictorians at Princeton? You rock. Amazon Breakthrough may rue the day.

    • Aw thanks so much for being a fan. So happy to hear you enjoyed the excerpt. 3/5000 make the finals. Those are bad bad odds. I love your Harvard analogy. Sometimes a no gets you to the right yes. Maybe I was never meant to go to Harvard? ๐Ÿ™‚

      I really wanted to share the ups and the downs. Because those are both part of a writer’s life. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for all your support! It makes this week so much easier to get through!

  11. Considering the subject, it seems odd (wrong?) to say I love this post, but I do. Especially equating your sadness to that of a teenagers. The perfect words, Kourtney. They let me know “exactly” how you feel. Nothing more a writer can do.

    • Aw Lisa, I appreciate you loving this post. It was really hard to explain what I was feeling to myself let alone to my family and friends. And then I remembered this is how it felt to be 14, when everything was a crushing blow or an exhilarating high. That is such a great compliment–thank you! I am so glad I conveyed exactly how I felt. ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Hey, Kourtney. I have to congratulate you again on your awesome success, and even more so for your fantastic work. I wasn’t kidding when I said it was the best excerpt (of many) I’ve read lately.

    I’m glad to hear that you’ve let yourself feel sad, and that you see other publications on the horizon. I believe that something bigger and better will happen with you book. When it does, you’ll be so glad you didn’t make the final round. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Thanks for sharing your journey with us!

    • Thanks August! I really really love this manuscript. I felt like it was the best thing I’ve ever written. I’m so glad you loved it too. ๐Ÿ™‚ Bottling it up only hurts me. Plus I remind myself every experience is fodder for my writing. It makes it easier to revel in my emotions until I understand them and am ready to move on. I hope so–I really want this story to be out there. I feel like these characters deserve to be heard. Thank you so much for sticking with me through this journey. ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s because of amazing people like you that I can keep pushing onward. ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. CC MacKenzie says:

    You’ve done incredibly well. And I know you’re feeling sad, but it’s just another step on the journey to SUCCESS!

    Sending you a big HUG!

    • Thanks Christine! I am very proud of how far I managed to get in the contest. I am thinking of it as one major step forward. It wasn’t the final step forward but it was forward movement. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m taking that big hug and sending you a giant smile back.


  14. limebirdbeth says:

    Oh no, totally gutted for you love! However, it’s still unbelievably AWESOME that you go to the semi-finals. How incredible. Such a shame that you didn’t get to the final, but I’m sure that something else will come up soon that even more awesome.

    Don’t lose your focus and your hope. You can do this.


    • Thanks Beth! It’s been awesome to have Limebird support! I’m really happy to make the semis. Nothing takes away from that. The finals was the toughest round to make. Hoping some agent or editor is intrigued by my work because of this contest and maybe they contact me. Or maybe it’s a cold query I send out. Or maybe they stumble on my website. You never know. Just put everything out there and hope someone is ensnared at some point. ๐Ÿ™‚

      I lost hope temporarily, but it’s flowing back in. And I’m sending out queries.

      Thanks again for your kindness,

  15. La La says:

    You are awesome, go get ’em, Kourtney!

  16. So, so sorry, Kourtney. ๐Ÿ™ I don’t know what else to say that hasn’t already been said, but hang in there and keep the faith in yourself the way all of us do in you. I am confident your book will find its way to being published, and when it is, I will be right there waiting so I see what happens next. ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. klynwurth says:

    Kourtney, that’s rough. But I’m proud of you for entering and doing so well. You’ve given this writer courage… thanks for that. Let me know if I can do anything.

    • Kelly, it was a tough Monday. Tuesday was pretty miserable too. But Wednesday, I forced myself to do some work and it felt good to get back into the rhythm of things. I’m still sad, but I’m moving forward. So grateful I entered the contest. Wouldn’t trade a minute of these awesome past few months. I always remind myself, you only fail when you stop trying. I’ll keep trying and you keep trying. Eventually things will happen. Thanks so much. Your comment here totally helped. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • klynwurth says:

        I mean what I said about you inspiring me…since the first of the month, I’ve been editing and sending out short stories, something I haven’t done for years. Take care and write on…

        • Kelly that is AWESOME! I’m so glad I could help you do that. It’s really really hard to put your work out there. But it’s so important to give it a chance to be read. Congrats to you! Regardless of the responses, you took a ginormous leap forward in your writing career. I’m rooting for you to get positive feedback. ๐Ÿ™‚ Write on! (I feel warriors in battle armor should be riding hundreds of horses behind me in this battle cry).

  18. Lots of love to the world’s best crit partner! *hugs* Just wanted to stop by your blog and say again that I’m sorry how the contest turned out. ๐Ÿ™ Even though you made it such a long way, and achieved so much, I know it’s devastating to hit a wall like that. I really admire your perspective, and though it might sound strange to say it, I’m glad you let yourself be sad these past few days. I think it’s an important part of the process… I’ve been trying to look on the bright side when I get rejections, but then I realized that I also need to let myself get angry or sad when I’m turned down. Because I need to believe in my book enough to know that it deserves better than that. All your books deserve to be out in the world, and I know they’ll make it there soon. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I’m so proud of you for persevering, and proud of what you achieved. I know you’ll find your path to publication, and I hope I’ll be right there with you someday. ๐Ÿ™‚

    (Also, I apologize if my last email was overly cheerful on the subject… I realized after I sent it that I didn’t convey my sympathy as well as I’d hoped. It was one of those times where I was trying to convey a bunch of feelings at once, and couldn’t find the right words for them… I wish I had your gift at conveying emotions in prose form! In fact, I’ve been wishing that a lot today as I work on revisions.)

    • *Hugs back* to the best crit partner I’ve ever had! Thanks so much for stopping by. And thanks for being on Skype with me Monday when I was all over the place. ๐Ÿ™‚ That’s exactly how it felt. Like a wall popped up as I was running forward. It knocked me on my bum for a few days. But I think I had to go through all those sad emotions. I had to be miserable in order to get through it. I agree. Every rejection, I feel a hit of sadness. It’s normal and it’s important to experience everything that happens–good and bad as we try to get published. ๐Ÿ™‚ Aw thanks Kat. That’s a huge compliment since you’ve read all of them. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Thanks! It’s because of you and my blog friends that I can keep going. Your support helps so much. ๐Ÿ™‚ Oh we are both finding our yellow brick roads to publication. You are tremendously talented and I expect to see our books in B&N someday.

      Kat, your last email was wonderful. You were with me Monday night when I really needed a friend. You have been a tremendous source of strength for me. ๐Ÿ™‚ LOL, any time you need to pick my brain on the emotions I’m here or if you need me to look at some pages and give feedback, just like you help me ground my story in the concrete. I hope to someday write an action scene as clear and as exciting as yours are. You make it look so easy and I struggle with them so much! ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. Laura says:

    Oh I’m so sorry! I was really rooting for you! But it’s still good news you advanced as far as you did ๐Ÿ˜€

  20. It’s just one step on the journey…you are a star not a meteor that quickly flashes and disappears. Agonize a bit ( writers have to suffer, right?) then take aim again. You inspire and will discover new inspiration as the journey continues…You’ve glimpsed the future – Yea YOU!

  21. Sorry you didn’t make the finals, but congrats on making it as far as you did!

  22. Samir says:

    Alas, you made it so far. And like you say, it’s great credentials. Besides, you just might get a phone call from a agent interested in publishing it (or you could send it in explaining it was the only Fantasy to make it that far and see what happens).

    I still think its awesome ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thanks Samir. I did add the semifinalist thing to my query letter bio paragraph for both books. ๐Ÿ™‚ Hoping it nudges an agent to ask for the full. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Me too. It was a lot of wins before the loss too. ๐Ÿ™‚

  23. Aw, Kourtney, I’m sorry to hear your journey ended before you were ready. You’re right to let yourself experience your loss fully with the perspective that you will move past it and on, successfully once you’ve been able to process your hope not coming to fruition. You WILL find another road to publication. And it will be exactly when it was meant to happen for beautiful, wonderful, talented you. In the meantime, hugs from Toronto…and a most pleased high five for making it as far as you did. Impressive to say the least. And just a teensy shimmer of the greatness that will surely come in the not too distant future for you and your dreams.

    • Thanks so much Anne! I think the further I made it the more I thought I could be there for the finals and even possibly win it. But that’s normal. One door closes, a window opens. Now I just have to find it and crawl inside. ๐Ÿ™‚ I really hope so. Feels like I’ve been at this a while with almosts abounding. I just want one almost to become a reality. Thanks for the hug. It was definitely needed this week. High five back. You’ve given me a very good perspective on things. That is how I’m going to look at it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  24. Pete Denton says:

    I think it was a fantastic achievement to reach the stage you did. This is a stepping stone on the road to realising your dreams and I hope the confidence it gives you helps finish the journey.

    • Thanks Pete. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m very proud of how far my book went in the contest. Getting that close to the end has to mean something. I’ll keep querying and going to conferences and trust that this is the beginning of more to come. ๐Ÿ™‚

  25. zelmare says:

    I’m sorry Kourtney. I have an inkling of what you’re feeling, and there’s nothing wrong with that. You can be proud of yourself, and take courage from this competition’s excellent results. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thanks. Your words help tremendously. I am really proud of how far I came in the contest. And having your support the entire time was wonderful. Thanks so much! ๐Ÿ™‚

  26. Yatin says:

    Reaching semi-finals is a win in itself! Falling short of (expected) achievement gives you motivation to go for it one more time. I am sure there’s another day for it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  27. Emmie Mears says:

    Thank you for sharing this, Kourtney. I’m so sorry that you’re going through the glum-drums, but it’s really an amazing testament to your skill as a writer that you made it to the semi-finals. And I read your excerpt. Couldn’t put it down. You will get there; that I promise.

    I feel you on the “teenage” disappointment. I’ve been right there the last few weeks after getting the last rejection from the WDC agents.

    • Thanks! I am really happy I made the semifinals. It was a huge affirmation of that story. I’ve gotten lots of rejection on it. And I needed some sign that it was worth continuing the query wars. ๐Ÿ™‚ Aw thanks so much! Yeah, it’s rough when you have a possibility ripped away from you. I needed to let myself be down. Querying is a really hard process because you don’t get any feedback most of the time. So you’re left wondering if it’s your work or the state of the market.

  28. The way I would look at it is, you were the fantasy winner, it’s just that there are more than three genres and so not every genre could make that last cut (or win the contest, for that matter.) And I think fantasy is a bit… “under-appreciated”, shall we say? Like comedy at the Oscars. (I write fantasy, too). What I’m trying to say is, you did really great. And you have semifinalist to put in your query letters. My hat would be off to you if I wore a hat!

    • Thanks Carol! It’s nice to think of it as me being the last Fantasy writer standing. ๐Ÿ™‚ I really like your perspective on this. I am okay with being under-appreciated. It sounds so much better than the “L” word. Thanks so much. I’m definitely adding it to both query letters. Aw that’s so nice to hear. I can’t wear hats, they give me hat hair and require committing to wearing a hat all day. ๐Ÿ™‚

  29. Cara Olsen says:

    Kourtney, a huge, well earned congratulations to you. You have much to be proud of. There’s not a one of us, as writers, who haven’t felt the rug pulled out from under us at one time or another. But unlike mere mortals, we can also take that rug and turn it into a magic carpet.

    Blessings to you!

    ~ Cara

    • Hi Cara! Thanks so much for stopping by and chatting! Thanks for your kind words too. I love the idea of us turning the rug into a magic carpet and riding off into the sky. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for brightening up my day.

      Take care,

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