Yesterday I received notification that my second novel, A Veil of Fog and Flames, is a finalist for the 2016 IAN Book of the Year Awards in Historical Fiction. This marks the second time the book has been singled out for award consideration this year (the first being the 2015 INDIEFAB Awards sponsored by Foreword Reviews). I am thrilled.
Last year, Embracing the Elephant, was a finalist for the IAN. Which got me thinking (again) about awards in general: why authors like me covet them, what they represent to readers, what it means to be a bridesmaid but never a bride (I’ve been a finalist, but not yet taken home the ultimate trophy).
I’ve entered only two or three contests with each of my two books since their publication. There is a fee, but it usually is no more than $75. The contests are sponsored by organizations that believe in self-publishing and want to raise the bar for that particular branch of the publishing business – which is something I want too. I’ve probably said this before, but I find too much schlock in self-published works that it’s no wonder the mere thought of “self-published” evokes skepticism in most readers.
Given that traditional publishing often ignores brave new markets in favor of tried-and-true tripe, I’m all for raising the standards for an exciting sea of talented authors (of course I consider myself one of those – mostly because I’ve been a finalist in contests! Is it chicken-and-egg time?)
There are disreputable contests, of course. I came across a book a year or so ago that had “won” some award, only to find out that the award was sponsored by that author’s publisher. Rather incestuous to my way of thinking. That’s not my idea of a valid award.
Being able to brag that your book won or was a finalist in a legitimate award, however, means something to me. More important, however, awards seem to mean something to readers. Look at how popular Pulitzer-Prize-winning books are (not that a self-published author would ever be considered for one of those)! I’ve read several, some of which I thought were hardly worth it (The Goldfinch and Visit from the Goon Squad come to mind. Great writing, but what was the point? Boy with no moral compass engages with one-dimensional characters? Life beats you up, then you die?). Many of which I adored (The Amazing Adventures of Cavalier and Clay remains my all-time favorite, setting the standard by which I judge others).
Anyway, I’m a nominee again. I am thrilled (did I say that already?) – and taking full advantage of my bragging rights!
No one is going to remember the also-rans…so keep your fingers crossed for me this time. It’s no Pulitzer, but it’s a start.