Writing Awards, Sort Of

I’m taking an unofficial, strictly for myself poll. It’s in two parts, one part for book buyers and one for authors.

Here’s the book buyers question: If you’re in a bookstore and you’ve narrowed down your choices to two books, how much are you influenced by words like “Winner of the 2008 Ruby Slipper Award” or “Runner-Up in the 2007 Sky Rain Award”? I’m not talking about established awards like the Edgars, Pulitzers, Agathas, National Book Awards, or Booker, but awards from organizations you’ve never heard of. Do those awards make you assume the book has been compared to all other books in its genre and judged by a panel of qualified judges? Even if you know better and suspect the judges were qualified only by reason of breathing, would you still choose the award-winning book over the other?

Now the question for authors: When you receive one of the flood of invitations from obscure literary groups who have created writers’ awards, what do you do? The invitations always remind you that winners can affix a sticker saying “Award Winner!” on their book. They remind you that you can add to your credits that you won the Blah-Blah Award, and that your sales will increase because of it. All you have to do to be in the running is to send the specified number of copies of your published book, manuscript, ebook, or POD book along with a fee in the hundred dollar range for each title, and you too could be a winner.

Do you immediately send the money and the required books and consider it a savvy marketing strategy? Or do you toss, delete, shred, or otherwise get rid of the invitation because it seems crass, misleading, and a tad dishonest to even consider entering a contest that is basically some group’s money-making scheme?

Now the really big question: If you knew for a fact that readers always buy an “award-winning” book, even if the “award” is of dubious provenance, would you hold your hose and enter all those contests? In the world of book marketing, does honesty matter? I think I just answered my own question, but I’d still like to hear other people’s views on spurious writing awards.


3 thoughts on “Writing Awards, Sort Of

  1. As far as I am concerned, those awards matter for naught. I read the fly leaf synopsis and can usually decide then and there if I will find the story of interest. If I am borderline making a decision, I will do the page 99 test. I say, “Save your money.”

  2. I’m with Sandy — I tend to seek out books that I’ve heard about from sources I respect (and I love the page 99 test!)
    There are similar awards in storytelling, and paying to be considered for an award reminds me of the “Who’s Who” directories and poetry anthologies “you are winner, and it will only cost you (or your parents) $59.99 to order the book you are in.”
    I think personal appearances matter more. Our library often has panels for local authors. Elaine Viets’ has tied her book signings in St. Louis in with local charities — a much better use of time and buyers’ funds . . .

  3. As a reader, I might be influenced to buy a book if it the dust jacket says it was written by an Edgar, Agatha, or other well-known award author. However, if it is some award that I have never heard of, I doubt it would have any influence. Hope that helps.

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