So I entered ABNA last week. I did within a few hours of the contest opening, so I’m pretty confident I made the cut off. I been reading other people’s posts about prepping their novel and grinding their query into game shape, and I realized something.
I really didn’t do anything.
I could tweak, revise, and line edit my MS for the next twenty years and never be completely satisfied with it. Not only that, but I think I hit the point of diminishing returns, where it’s about as good as it’s ever going to get, and the more work I put in will generate a smaller and smaller result. So basically they got what I gave them, and if they don’t like it, so be it.
I wouldn’t have entered the contest if I didn’t think I had some kind of chance, but realistically, I’m going up against 4,999 other novels, many of them literary fiction. I’m rooting for myself, and since anything else is now out of my control, I won’t gnash my teeth or rend my clothing if I don’t win.
A publishing contract and a trip to New York would be sweet, but what I know I’ll get from this no matter what happens, is a definite assessment of my query. I really think my story is appealing enough to make through the first round, which is judged solely on the pitch, which is essentially my query. So if I don’t make through, I’ll know for sure that my query isn’t going cut it no matter who I send it to. If it passes, I’ll know I’m on the right track, and I’ll just widen my agent net a little more.
Here’s the pitch that I sent. The main problem is that it feels long, even though it’s less than 250 words.
Seventeen-year-old Theadne Adir dreams of using her gift of speed to escape her bleak future on Qalon and to build a better life for her family. She’d even escape being Qalonian if she could. Her little brother is dying, her mom works two jobs just to provide scraps, and her entire universe is a sixteen block nightmare called the Pit. For decades, Qalon has cowered under the grip of the Sarall Supremacy, and through the aliens’ occupation, she’s learned to believe what the Supremacy teaches: Qalonians are the most wretched and pitiful life forms in the solar system.
When the Supremacy’s war with the planet Muer reaches Qalon, Thea’s way out seems shut until a midnight swim brings her face to face with an enemy not at all what they seem. Mistaken for a Muer collaborator, Thea finds herself running not for ribbons but for her life in a desperate trek through the darkest reaches of Qalon and into the arms of Talus of Raal, the captivating son of a Muer noble.
Thea and Talus’s obvious affection runs afoul of the Muerlings’ xenophobic sensibilities even as the Muerling Army launches a desperate assault on the full might of the Supremacy Military. Forced into a covert mission as a native guide on the streets of her home, Thea finds herself caught between enemies on both sides of the battle lines and suddenly torn between self preservation and the survival of a planet, and a race, she’s slowly learning to love.
So basically, I’m hoping on the first round; anything else is cake.