All Things Writing

Go For The Gold; Today We Talk Awards

May 29, 2021 Bryan the Writer Season 2 Episode 15
All Things Writing
Go For The Gold; Today We Talk Awards
Chapters
All Things Writing
Go For The Gold; Today We Talk Awards
May 29, 2021 Season 2 Episode 15
Bryan the Writer

No, I am not talking about the Golden Globes or the People's Choice awards, I am talking about the literary awards which shine a light on your amazing work!

Like me, you probably once thought that the New York Times bestsellers list was compiled by how many books were sold in the US. As it turns out, that’s only mostly true in terms of sales numbers. 

According to a recent New York Times article dated 23 September 2020, come hell or high water the New York Times list is published every Wednesday at 7 PM Eastern standard Time.

So, who are the people actually make the selections? A tiny staff of three with a lot of help from computers.

Bookstores throughout the country send in their sales data to this team. Who are these stores? Literally they are stores big and small and in between. It took me two seconds to find the point of contact I would need to send in information if I was a small bookseller and wants to report my sales.

Okay, so if we accept the fact that it’s impossible to buy your way into the New York Times best-selling list, although there kind of is if you have a huge marketing campaign in your back pocket, then we have to consider some other options. You can either buy your way into a competition, which also could give you the side benefit of getting some reviews out of the deal, or you could participate in more genre specific competitions.

Undoubtedly, you have all heard of the Reader’s Favorite awards? It is, as I suggested, and award program where you pay to be listed as one of the competitors. They do promise to give you a fair review of book in exchange for the fee in addition to being considered for the award. And I have heard from other authors they do a really good job of writing a review.

I believe that winning the reader’s favorite award is a high honor and is worthy of praise.

However, you do have to be careful with these kinds of awards. There are a few out there which have come and gone which pretend to offer prestigious awards to authors for a fee.

Be careful and do your homework. Don’t just send money to any operation. This is where it comes in handy to be involved in the author writing groups. They can tell you if a particular award program is legitimate or not. There are plenty of people out there who will stop at nothing to try and steal those precious dollars from your wallet.

The other option for you to receive recognition is to participate in various groups. For example, I participate in the Horror Writers Association. Every year they give out the Bram Stoker awards. These awards are actually quite competitive. You submit your book to the team doing the evaluation who examine it for quality. If you pass that Mark, then the book is included in the competition that year.

Thanks for listening!

Support the show (http://paypal.me/BryanNowak)

Show Notes Transcript

No, I am not talking about the Golden Globes or the People's Choice awards, I am talking about the literary awards which shine a light on your amazing work!

Like me, you probably once thought that the New York Times bestsellers list was compiled by how many books were sold in the US. As it turns out, that’s only mostly true in terms of sales numbers. 

According to a recent New York Times article dated 23 September 2020, come hell or high water the New York Times list is published every Wednesday at 7 PM Eastern standard Time.

So, who are the people actually make the selections? A tiny staff of three with a lot of help from computers.

Bookstores throughout the country send in their sales data to this team. Who are these stores? Literally they are stores big and small and in between. It took me two seconds to find the point of contact I would need to send in information if I was a small bookseller and wants to report my sales.

Okay, so if we accept the fact that it’s impossible to buy your way into the New York Times best-selling list, although there kind of is if you have a huge marketing campaign in your back pocket, then we have to consider some other options. You can either buy your way into a competition, which also could give you the side benefit of getting some reviews out of the deal, or you could participate in more genre specific competitions.

Undoubtedly, you have all heard of the Reader’s Favorite awards? It is, as I suggested, and award program where you pay to be listed as one of the competitors. They do promise to give you a fair review of book in exchange for the fee in addition to being considered for the award. And I have heard from other authors they do a really good job of writing a review.

I believe that winning the reader’s favorite award is a high honor and is worthy of praise.

However, you do have to be careful with these kinds of awards. There are a few out there which have come and gone which pretend to offer prestigious awards to authors for a fee.

Be careful and do your homework. Don’t just send money to any operation. This is where it comes in handy to be involved in the author writing groups. They can tell you if a particular award program is legitimate or not. There are plenty of people out there who will stop at nothing to try and steal those precious dollars from your wallet.

The other option for you to receive recognition is to participate in various groups. For example, I participate in the Horror Writers Association. Every year they give out the Bram Stoker awards. These awards are actually quite competitive. You submit your book to the team doing the evaluation who examine it for quality. If you pass that Mark, then the book is included in the competition that year.

Thanks for listening!

Support the show (http://paypal.me/BryanNowak)

S2E15: Awards

Welcome, welcome, welcome to the show today. I want to thank you for joining me on this episode of all things writing. I have a lot of people to thank today including my parents, my voice coach, my third-grade teacher, and of course my family. I don’t deserve such an auspicious award.

In case you haven’t guessed it, today is the award show day. Before I got onto that, let’s first go over the stats for this week. If you guessed there was no big change in the numbers, you would be right. Our wonderful listeners of Atlanta, Georgia are still in the number one spot. Followed by Columbus, Ohio. And in third place we have the good people of San Antonio, Texas.

These three have been in the solid lead for a few weeks. Nipping at their heels are our good friends in Broadview Heights, Ohio and Baltimore, Maryland who are in a dead tie for fourth.

So, what about awards shows? It seems that every year we here more and more about the dropping numbers for people watching those awards shows and still we have to suffer through hearing about who wore what to the Emmy’s, Golden Globes, People’s Choice Awards, and a litany of other awards shows out there.

And yet, that is not the kind of show I am talking about. Nope, I am talking about book awards. Every time you hear that you simply must read the latest and greatest from the New York Time’s best seller’s list, you tend to take notice, right? Same with the USA Today list as well.

But why do we give these recommendations so much weight? Are they truly worth the clout or is this just a bunch of hooey? Well, on this episode of All Things Writing, I want to explore this idea and see if we can’t demystify some of it.

Before we talk a little bit more about why you should even pay attention to the bestsellers lists, we should probably understand a little bit more about how the list gets populated.

Like me, you probably once thought that the New York Times bestsellers list was compiled by how many books were sold in the US. As it turns out, that’s only mostly true in terms of sales numbers. 

According to a recent New York Times article dated 23 September 2020, come hell or high water the New York Times list is published every Wednesday at 7 PM Eastern standard Time.

So, who are the people actually make the selections? It would be easy to envision a huge building going through mountains of data. But to be wrong. Don’t worry, I thought the same thing when I first started giving this some thought.

You want to guess how many people?

Go ahead, pick a number.

Ready for the answer? Three people.

What? Three people? You have to be kidding me? Well, modernity is caught up with us in there are tons of ways in which this team of three generates who makes the list and who doesn’t.

Bookstores throughout the country send in their sales data to this team. Who are these stores? Literally they are stores big and small and in between. It took me two seconds to find the point of contact I would need to send in information if I was a small bookseller and wants to report my sales.

So, ask yourself this question, is it truly a reflection of the actual book sales?

Well, no. Not really since they have no way of compiling every single book sale in the country. They also have no way of forcing all stores in the US to report the data. But does that really matter?

If statistics has taught us anything it’s that generally speaking you don’t really have to have every single store counted in order to get some idea of what books are being sold the most in the country. You really only need a statistically significant number of bookstores reporting that information. It is absolutely true that right now we have no way of knowing whether or not all the bookstores reporting make up that statistical center of mass. But again, we really don’t have to. 

Suffice it to say that enough bookstores are reporting this information to make ending up on the New York Times bestseller list and achievement unto itself.

So what about USA Today standings? Same process essentially. They have information sent in from bookstores as well and allow that information to inform who makes the ranking and who doesn’t. Really the only differences the mechanism they’re using to process the information.

I apologize if it sounds like I’m making light of the accomplishment of making the bestsellers list. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I would give my right arm to have one of my books and up on the New York Times bestseller list. Although, for me really that’s a far-off goal.

So, let’s look at a more realistic goal for an author still cutting their teeth in the writing world.

There are many other wonderful literary competitions out there which you can apply to where you can compete for awards. There are two major ways you can do it. The first is the pay to play option and the second is more genre specific.

Several awards out there do require an entry fee to be in the running for their awards. This sounds a little like you are paying to be part of the award.

I suppose it would be easy to see why I would be against something like this. In a perfect world, it would be a system which is built on what books the readership is enjoying. In essence it should only be about how good the book is. But I have yet to live in a perfect world.

There are purists out there who complain that the awards where the authors paid to have their books in the competition are really sullying what the award should be about. On one hand I agree with them. However, I see the other point of view as well.

Consider the problem of any author today. Let’s say you have written the next great novel. You’ve done everything you could to make that novel perfect. You’ve edited, proofread, had it beta read, and then hired a professional editor to go through the book and find everything you missed. You’ve gone so far as to hire a professional firm to make a beautiful cover for you. These are all great things.

As I said before, in a few episodes, if you’ve made to this point you should strongly consider patting yourself on the back for a few seconds. You’ve done something that few people have ever done. But now the real work begins, you need to make sure that your book gets out to the world. How do you do that?

Although it would be lovely to think that just putting the book out on Amazon makes it an instant success, “I mean how could they not see your brilliance?” The reality is that you have just released your book into a world filled with books which is added to every day. That’s hard to fight against that.

Consider that in 2019 there were about 675 million print books sold in the United States. Think about that in the context of pebbles on the beach. Imagine that you’re standing on the beach and in front of you are 675 million rocks. You pull out of your pocket one rock. This is your rock. You have devoted tons of time to making it perfectly round and perfectly shiny. It’s a gorgeous rock, as a matter of fact you’re convinced that it’s the best-looking rock on this beach.

Now I want you to take your rock and throw it onto that pile of 675 million rocks. Are you beginning to get the picture?

Now I want you to go find somebody who also happens to be walking by this beach. I want you to ask them to go select the perfect rock. Do they pick your rock? What are the odds that they are going to take your rock? Probably around 1 out of 675 million.

No matter what book… er, rock they pick up the odds of that rock being your rock is still pretty small.

When you go into a bookstore, consider the weight that the book carries if it has an award on the cover, or that book is released from, “New York Times best-selling author X”. Yes, that carries weight. As a matter fact, it increases your odds of selling that book quite a bit. It says something to potential readers.

I’m not trying to depress you, I am only trying to illustrate a point. You are going to have to fight for any little bit of recognition that you can get.

When we come back, I want to talk about some of the ways in which you can get recognition for your book in terms of winning a literary award.

 

Insert commercial here

 

Okay, so if we accept the fact that it’s impossible to buy your way into the New York Times best-selling list, although there kind of is if you have a huge marketing campaign in your back pocket, then we have to consider some other options. You can either buy your way into a competition, which also could give you the side benefit of getting some reviews out of the deal, or you could participate in more genre specific competitions.

Undoubtedly, you have all heard of the Reader’s Favorite awards? It is, as I suggested, and award program where you pay to be listed as one of the competitors. They do promise to give you a fair review of book in exchange for the fee in addition to being considered for the award. And I have heard from other authors they do a really good job of writing a review.

It may sound like I want to badmouth the program, but I won’t do that. The fact is, I’ve known a few people who won. And they are all very good authors. We can raise our eyebrows at such a competition where you pay to compete, but the fact of the matter is that there was some stiff competition. And these people came out on top. I even know one author, a friend of the show, who attended the award ceremony.

I believe that winning the reader’s favorite award is a high honor and is worthy of praise.

However, you do have to be careful with these kinds of awards. There are a few out there which have come and gone which pretend to offer prestigious awards to authors for a fee.

Be careful and do your homework. Don’t just send money to any operation. This is where it comes in handy to be involved in the author writing groups. They can tell you if a particular award program is legitimate or not. There are plenty of people out there who will stop at nothing to try and steal those precious dollars from your wallet.

The other option for you to receive recognition is to participate in various groups. For example, I participate in the Horror Writers Association. Every year they give out the Bram Stoker awards. These awards are actually quite competitive. You submit your book to the team doing the evaluation who examine it for quality. If you pass that Mark, then the book is included in the competition that year.

There are other organizations out there like the Romance Autor’s Association or the Mystery Author’s Association which offer awards specific to their own genres. These are highly competitive affairs, but you can add considerably to your writing credentials if you win an award. So it is worth submitting.

Here is where I get a little sentimental. You see, I am, at my core at least, a horror writer. Yes, I do write in other genres, but I am still a horror fan at heart and I probably always will be. But the list of award winners just came out so I figured I could use that as an example of the different categories you can compete in.

So congratulations to the following for;

Superior Achievement in a Novel: Stephen Graham Jones – The Only Good Indians (Gallery/Saga Press)

Superior Achievement in a First Novel: EV Knight – The Fourth Whore (Raw Dog Screaming Press)

Superior Achievement in a Young Adult Novel: Adam Cesare – Clown in a Cornfield (HarperTeen)

Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel: Nancy Holder, Chiara Di Francia, and Amelia Woo – Mary Shelley Presents Tales of the Supernatural (Kymera Press)

Superior Achievement in Long Fiction: Stephen Graham Jones – “Night of the Mannequins” (Tor.com)

Superior Achievement in Short Fiction: Josh Malerman – “One Last Transformation”(Miscreations: Gods, Monstrosities & Other Horrors)(Written Backwards)

This is not an exhaustive list. There are bunch of other categories for which winners were declared as well as runners up.

But, why did I read that list? Actually, I read it because I wanted to impress on you that there are not just a few categories you can compete in. There are many different categories. Don’t just think in terms of competing in one category. Look for other places you can throw your hat in the ring.

Because, let’s face it, awards do matter. And, in recap, there are some note worthy competitions out there that you pay an entrance fee to compete in. Don’t dismiss them out of hand, but remember your author networks and ask around about which ones are legit and which ones are not. Don’t be a victim.

That’s it this week for All Things Writing. Remember that if you like the show, hit that like button and consider throwing a few dollars toward the show to keep us running. I am absolutely genuine when I tell you that every little bit helps. So if you like what I am doing, consider making a donation to the show.

I will be off next week due to finally making my way home. I plan to be back the week after that, but timelines will be tight. I am super excited to announce that in June I will be interviewing the amazing Ann Kroeker who is a writing coach. She is going to join us and I will pick her brain about the writing life and how to keep that career moving forward.

Until then, this is Bryan the Writer, signing off.