Monday 3 February 2014

DO YOU AGREE, OR DISAGREE? (#4) [Topic: Do Self-Published Book Awards = Bollocks?]

I'm going to ask you something today that might be a bit controversial. BUT. It's been on my mind lately, so here goes ... *bracing myself*

The way I see it, being an "award winning author," as an indie, just tells me that that particular author was able to afford to enter the award. I can't afford to enter any major book awards because they are just so darn expensive. I don't have any major book award credits to my name. Does that mean my work isn't worthy, or that I'm just financially unable to buy my worth?

So I guess my main question for you today is:
Does "award-winning" actually mean anything anymore?

Note: I am not dissing those who have received awards. I have received an award for my poetry, too, and I am quite proud of it. And so should you be. I am purposely being tantalizing for the purpose of this debate. But the question does remain. And personally, I am in two minds. What's your point of view?

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  1. In this age of the internet and self-selling there are a lot of things which don't mean much.Does it matter? Probably not. What matters is what your work brings to you. Even if it is acclaimed in an 'acceptable' sense it still represents opinion, fashion, luck, fate etc., however 'nice' and satisfying it might be.

    We now get 'reviews' written which are often put up by friends or acquaintances. Is that worthwhile? Sure. Does it mean as much as an independent review in a highly noted literary magazine? Probably not. Then again, even the review in the 'highly noted' has to be seen in the light of perspective.

    For example, I have had poetry published in a dozen anthologies in the past two years. Does it mean much? Probably not in the main. It has happened because there are more poetry journals online and it is easier to submit now one can do it online and some of the journals, like your own are excellent and professional, but many are just the outcome of a poetry group.

    None of it amounts to acceptance by the 'poetry world' at a serious level. I know that. But it remains satisfying and encouraging within its limitations.

    Which is how I see the 'self published book awards.' So yes, it means something but not as much as one might imagine. Is it worthwhile if you can do it? Sure.

  2. But once again an interesting topic.

  3. I firmly believe it's all about 'who you know' - which is why networking is so important these days in any field. I agree with Roslyn though that any positive recognition remains satisfying no matter how limited the boundaries of that recognition. And your work is definitely worthy Jessica!

  4. I'm a firm believer in the proof is in the pudding. So basically, 'award winning' is in the work, not a label. Saying that, I see what questions you're raising.

  5. I think it depends upon the award, as in, Pulitzer Prize and that ilk. Otherwise, not so much.

  6. A nominal entry fee for a contest is acceptable...heck, it's what finances many of the journals and such, but to me, awards are only "special" when they are just THAT—awarded to people on the merit of that particular piece. Not out of friendship. Not because we have an "extra" award we need to get rid of. Not because she's been nominated 35 times and never won.

    Essentially, it does seem that awards (no matter the medium) tend to go to the most "talked about" person, so networking is half the battle.

    As for me, awards, like followers, only mean something when earned. I don't want a "participant trophy" that everyone gets so nobody feels bad about themselves, just as I don't want followers out of reciprocity...I want people interested in what I have to say, who follow me for that reason, who give me awards (small, big, Pulitzer-esque) for that reason.

    M.L. Swift, Writer

  7. Never thought about the entry fee involved.
    The big awards don't mean much to me, like the Hugos. I guess the more 'literary' an award, the less inclined I am to want to read the book. My book did win a Pinnacle Award though, which wasn't based on popularity or anything. (I didn't even know my publisher had entered it until I won.)

  8. i honestly don't know and haven't given it much thought. I think many of the major awards are still relevant - you win a Newberry, it's still awesome, but i know less about awards for self published books. I'm actually not aware of any of them, and i didn't know there were entry fees (which i guess is more of a hurdle if you're self published since it's all on you, vs an agent or a publisher submitting stuff)
    Great topic

  9. I'm definitely NOT a fan of 'pay to enter' awards. I know it sort of stems from publishers paying those fees and so only doing it for the books they think might win. I think it is GREAT to be an award winner, but only if the award is a bit more objective, and honestly, I don't know enough about each that I would know how to go about distinguishing between a legitimate award and a 'purchased' one. I DO know I had a book awarded one of the best cozies of 2012 and I paid NOTHING, but I happen to know the man who nominated me, so the networking made a difference.

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  11. I think that if the correct judges and processes are in place, Indie Awards are just as relevant as traditional awards. I'm not talking Nobel Prize for Literature - surely there is an organisation that could take this on. There are so many reviewers around who could pass on nominations, rather than the author actually paying to be nominated. Here in Oz I see the same names appear reviewing Indie books that the opportunity is there if someone wants to pursue it.

    As for the cost, well, I don't know how much it is to submit your work for an awards nomination but I do know that writers often pay to submit their works to competitions/contests without blinking. They believe in their work enough to see the value in it. Granted, it may be a LOT less than the awards but the intention is the same.

    Finally, I do believe there is a place for Indie awards to lead to further advance a writer's goal - to be published by one of the "Gatekeepers". It may not be every single indie author but I would hazard a guess that if Random House or Macmillan rang today and offered a six-figure, multi-book contract, not many writers would turn them down. Legitimate awards help in that - as well as networking (as others have said.)


  12. Great topic that needs to be brought out in the open. I also can't afford to enter competitions! I had a big argument with IndieReader about this when I saw they were charging a princely sum for their awards.
    The trouble is, holding awards takes time and the judges have to be recompensed. HOWEVER, if you are trying to assess whether a book is up to standard, you don't have to read the whole thing. Indeed - sad to say - many indie books won't even be readable beyond the first paragraph if they're being judged by professional standards. (Those, of course, will not be the books written by the people of our acquaintance!) So this means the judges do not have to read the whole of each book submitted - thus meaning that the entry fee for something like IndieReader could be reduced significantly when divided by all the entrants. Comparatively few books would need to be read in their entirety.
    This is what I said to IndieReader. They were not amused.

  13. I personally don't see the point about indie book awards - I would much rather focus on getting the big awards to open up to self-publishing, or see an increase in more niche awards like the Polari Prize (which is also progressive in accepting entries from self-publishers). I realise, though, that many writers do want awards just for self-publishers, so I guess that's fair enough for them. What I REALLY object to is media coverage based upon things like awards - just like I don't like media coverage based on sales. That perpetuates the success of the same few titles and stands as a marker for lazy journalism that can't be bothered to seek out hidden gems

  14. I agree with the comment above - awards should be for the best book, not how it was published.

  15. Speaking as a reader, it doesn't mean much to me. I pay more attention to the reviews and to the story (such as a sample or what I know of the author's other books). Same thing goes for promotional quotes in or on the book from other authors.


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