Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Reward Of A Book Award

The publicity firm that I have worked for these past 16 years was the proud sponsor of a book-publishing award called The IPPY Awards.  The awards celebrated their 19th year of honoring the works of independently published authors. I saw firsthand why authors get so excited to win an award when I attended the ceremony, which was held a mile from Book Expo America in Manhattan.

A few hundred authors gathered to be honored and to interact with one another.  Many authors do not meet other authors, so when they see a room filled with them they either feel at home amongst their peers or fearful of all the competition – or perhaps both.

There are many, many awards out there, given by various groups and organizations but each is special when it involves books.  There are so many books published annually, yet fewer than 1% are even nominated for any kind of award – let alone win one.  Fewer than 1% make any kind of bestseller list for even one week.  Maybe 2% of all published books are reviewed by Publishers Weekly.  So the odds of any kind of recognition bestowed upon a book are rare.

When an author can refer to their book as an “award-winner” it sounds so much better.  It sounds authoritative and tested.  It sounds substantial and final.

Judging books is very challenging.  It’s easy to dismiss garbage – ugly covers, poor editing, dull plots, flat writing – but it’s much harder to choose the best of the best.  It often comes down to personal preference, as there’s no exact or decisive formula to figure out if one book is truly better than another.  Still, if we can get a consensus, even if subjective, a picture starts to form.

The public doesn’t know one award from the other.  Is the Indie Book Award better than the Ben Franklin Award or the IPPY Award or USA Book Award or any of the other awards out there?  People know the Pulitzer, National Book Award, and Nobel Award.  They may have heard of a few others, but no one distinguishes one from the other.  But you hear award-winning and you sound like you won the lottery.  Same with the bestseller list.  We all know The New York Times is the gold standard but people can say they’re a bestseller if they make any of a dozen or more lists for a brief moment in time.  It doesn’t matter which list – or where you ranked on it or for how long.  It’s like the old joke, “What do you call a person who finished last in med school?  Doctor.”  Once you have a title "award-winner" or otherwise – you have been elevated in class.

You start to see yourself differently and as such, you may start to get treated differently. Authors should definitely enter books for awards.  It’s a great feeling to win and to be told your book is good, if not the best.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015

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