In six days, Amazon will announce those moving to the Quarter-Finals. The decision is based upon the score by the reviewer of the excerpt (the excerpt is the first 3,000-5,000 words of the manuscript). Once you become a Quarter-Finalist, the entire manuscript will be read and scored.
Round One was the initial submission ... 10,000 submissions into one of five categories.
Based on the pitch, 2,000 (400 per category), were moved to Round Two.
Based on the excerpt, 500 (100 per category), will move to the Quarter-Finals.
Based on the entire manuscript, 25 (5 per category), will move to the Semi-Finals.
Based again on the entire manuscript (though I don't know how it's rated at this stage), 5 total (1 per category), move to the Finals, at which point you are offered a publishing contract. You can refuse it, but who would? That's why we all entered this contest!
I hope to move to the Quarter-Finals, as does every other participant in Round Two, but there are no guarantees. I have read of people who have entered the same manuscript in multiple years, each with varying results ... one year they made it to the Quarter-Finals, one year to Round Two, once to the Semi-Finals, and more than once they never even made it to Round Two ... and this was with the exact same manuscript!
I have read a good many of the pitches in all of the categories of the ones that made it to Round Two. Some were really good, and it was easy to understand why they made it to Round Two. Even if it was a book I would never read, I could see it had value. Some I had to read two or three times, trying to figure out what they were actually saying ... and some I never could make sense of. To be fair, it is very hard to condense the essence of your novel into 300 words or less, so the excerpts and manuscripts may be very good even if the pitch is poorly written and/or confusing ... but since those who advanced to Round Two were selected based on solely on the pitch, I couldn't help but wonder about the overall quality of the pitches.
The above examples prove that good writing isn't necessarily enough to propel you from one round to the next ... your work also has to fall into the hands of someone who finds the premise of your story interesting and intriguing. As much as I enjoy Nicholas Sparks, I would not have passed his last two novels from the Quarter-Finals to the Semi-Finals. Supernatural stories turn me off. Safe Haven, his best selling book-turned-movie was a huge hit at the box office. A good friend of mine LOVED the book and the movie (as did millions of others), but I did not. It certainly doesn't mean the book wasn't good ... it just means I didn't enjoy it ... and that if I were judging his work, he wouldn't get a favorable score on those two particular books.
For the record ... I think Nicholas Sparks is a master at writing romance novels, to which his bank account holds testament. But when you throw in ghosts or super-duper, too-coincidental elements ... you've lost me ... and his last two books had both. Regardless, I'm sure I will buy his next book. If the ghost thing continues, I may not continue to read his work ... but I probably will. I don't enjoy horror or gore, either, which means I'm not a Stephen King fan ... but something tells me both of these men have enough loyal followers that my humble opinion won't make a bit of difference. And I think it's safe to say that my sweet, romantic, little love story would make a Stephen King fan gag ... so I do understand it works both ways.
All that to say ... even though I think the excerpt for A Summer in Ocracoke is well-written and tells the beginning of a really good, unique story, it has to fall into the hands of someone who doesn't think a love story without vampires or violence or Fifty-Shades-of-Grey-sex isn't worth reading.
I am prepared for the possibility that I will not make it to the Quarter-Finals. If I don't continue on in this contest, it doesn't mean that A Summer in Ocracoke isn't good ... it simply means that the one Amazon reviewer who read my excerpt didn't care for it. I deal with this by reminding myself that both Nicholas Sparks and Stephen King were rejected many times ... by successful industry professionals who should have recognized literary genius (and they both are) when it was (literally) dropped into their laps.
If I don't continue on to the Quarter-Finals, I'll go back to researching agents to query. Until then, I wait nervously, for ... Six. More. Long. Days.