Monday, January 25, 2016

The Pros and Cons of Literary Awards

post by Michelle Griep
My name's popped up on a few lists such as a Best of 2015 and nominations for several other awards, such as the Inspy's. Does that make me feel special? Heck yeah. But it's starting to wear a little thin around the ol' homestead. I suppose I should stop making my family address me as Your Majesty and maybe -- just maybe -- let them quit bowing and curtseying every time I walk into a room. Oh yeah. And maybe the rooty-tooty trumpeters are a bit over the top.

But other than an ego booster, are literary awards really all that important? Is fame and fortune sure to follow? No to the latter, yes to the former, and here's why . . .

Why Literary Awards Are Great

The best thing about a book receiving an award is that it's a validation for the publisher and/or all those who support that book. Those who believed enough in a story to get it into the hands of the readers, and the readers themselves, deserve a pat on the back via a little recognition. Note that I didn't mention this is a validation for the writer. If an author is writing simply for the kudos of a gold star, then that author ought not be writing at all.

While winning an award doesn't necessarily mean a hike in sales, it does mean that the author's name and title of the book will get a boost in marketing. So it could sell a few more books, but even more importantly, the name of the author will be in the public eye . . . and when your next title comes out, hopefully your name will be remembered.

Writing is a lonely affair. An author sits for hours on end alone with nothing but fake characters in fictional settings with make-believe problems, wondering if any of their words even make sense. An award is a pat on the back from the real world.

Why Literary Awards Are NOT So Great

Receiving an award can take an average Joe writer and turn him into a tutu-wearing diva, and a lazy one at that. Writing goes stagnant when an author thinks too much of himself and/or his writing.

Mood Swings
Some writers live and die by awards, and when their name doesn't make a list, it's hara-kiri time. On the flip side, winning creates a mountaintop experience--but a writer can't live on a peak forever. You've got to come down some time. All these emotions take a writer's attention away from what they should be doing: writing.

Books are art, and art is subjective. Who's to say what stellar writing is and isn't? That's an awful lot of power to hand over to a group of judges. Is creativity something to be sifted and measured?

As for me, yeah, it's great to see my book in the spotlight, but you know what's even more great? Just knowing that there are readers out there who got to experience a bit of history mixed in with some timeless truths.


chappydebbie said...

You deserve any recognition you get for your books. This was well worded....Your Majesty. :-)

Southern-fried Fiction said...

I had to laugh at Chappydebbie's remarks. :o) What you say is so true, though. But, what I LOVE about the INSPYs, especially this first level, is that it's readers who nominate the books. And they are the MOST important of all. To me, the INSPYs are a huge deal. :o)

I will say so are the Carol Awards through ACFW. Those are our peers, and that's biggie to me, too.

But in the end, it's God I want to please the most. So if I never win an award, at least I know I'm doing what He called me to do. And one day I'll hear Jesus say, "Well done, good and faithful servant." And that's the best award of all!

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