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Erica Eisdorfer, a finalist in the 2008 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest, didn't win--but she got a book contract anyway. "I started getting calls from agents," she told PW, "sort of one after the other." Discovered after an excerpt of her entry was posted on the contest Web site, the 52-year-old Eisdorfer, manager of the Bull's Head Bookshop at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, eventually chose Alexandra Machinist, of Linda Chester and Associates, to represent her. Her novel, The Wet Nurse's Tale, was published by Putnam last August.
Fellow finalist Brandi Lynn Ryder had also unsuccessfully attempted to sell her novel, In Malice, Quite Close, before entering the ABNA. "It was going to be shelved, and I was going to write another book," she says. "Basically, I was just playing around on the Internet, looking at some literary sites, on the very first day of the contest. I'd never heard of it. But there was a little voice that said, 'Oh, do it, why not.' It ended up being a real dream come true for me."
The ABNA made literary waves when it was first announced in 2008--after all, it was the biggest literary contest of its kind, and the winner, chosen from some 10,000 entrants, stood to win a $25,000 book contract with a Penguin imprint. But now, with the third crop of finalists set to be announced on February 25, a number of fascinating aspects of the contest have also emerged. For one, the advance has gone down to $15,000, but there are now two grand prize winners, one for General Fiction and one for Young Adult …