Friday, January 13, 2012

Know Your Award Programs

There are oodles of award programs today, offering all sorts of "national" awards to help promote your book.  I've mentioned before that it's worth looking into nominating your book for several awards.  BUT, and it's a BIG BUT, know the program/research the program before sending along your hard earned money.  And yes, most of these awards require a "nominating fee."  Paying a fee does not mean the program is bogus, indeed, many well-known programs charge hefty fees.  For example, the very prestigious 'Children's Choices' Awards, co-sponsored by The International Reading Association and The Children's Book Council was charging $300/book for nominations from publishers who were not members a few years back (I don't know what they charge now).  But I can tell you from personal experience that that $300 was worth every penny when I won as the sales that came after winning were substantial.

What prompted me to write this post?  I just received an email from a relatively new award program (I think this is the second year it's been offered).  I'd already received a "Nominate Your Book Now!" email.  This email was actually looking for judges.  Huh?  You mean you've got an award program, are soliciting submissions (and money!) and don't have enough judges???  Apparently, if you can read, you're qualified to judge.  The instructions said, in part, "Just select your favorite category and you will get XXX to read and evaluate" (I removed the text that would identify this program.)  Do you really want to send your hard earned money, and your book, to Bubba Smith, who may have never reviewed/judged a book before in his life?  Not me.  I've seen too many of these contests where the placings are bizarre to say the least.  I've also reviewed quite a few books that won Bubba's Award - or one similar - and have to wonder how that book ever won an award.

So, nominate your book, but before you nominate, research!!!  See what others have to say.  Ask about such awards, search out the winners and get a feel for the sort of books that win.  You can also check out the websites of the award programs.  No website?  No way, run away!  I know one well-known award, but NOT well-respected, that gives EVERY book an award.  Check their website and you'll catch on quickly.  Lots and lots of winners, and hey, they match all the books that were nominated.  Wow, that's something to be proud of, huh?