Amazon is holding a contest for new authors. There's only two categories, general and young adult and you can only have one entry. I considered entering Double Down, but one of the judging criteria is originality. Double Down is a murder mystery. Yes, the plot is original but essentially follows the same pattern as most mysteries. The Crystal's Curse on the other hand has a completely original plot line. However, it's my first attempt at writing and as such not a polished.
The first step is to write a 300 work pitch. You can't imagine how difficult it is to compress a plot that takes 70,000 words to unfold in to 300 word teaser. However, I have learned and can probably spruce up the one I have into something that might intrigue the judges.
If you pass that stage, they'll read the first 5000 words. Now I've written a killer prologue. Generally if you hook the reader in the first few pages, they'll stick with you while you set the stage and give them enough background so that they can identify and care about the characters. Then you carefully unwind the plot until they're hooked and can't stop reading until the end. But if your book is being judged on the first 5000 words, you don't have that leeway.
So before submitting my entry, I'm editing The Crystal's Curse for the thousandth time, trying to make it as tight and compelling as possible. If I leave out some of the background to make it more exciting in the beginning, then its hard to identify with the characters. At one point, I gave up and wondered why I was bothering. The chances of winning were probably as astronomical as winning the lottery. Why put myself through it? I haven't answered that question yet. I only have until the end of January to decide.