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Tuesday 2 December 2014

Awards. It’s not the winning - it’s the taking part.

Tuesday Talk 
(Or so we convince ourselves.)

My Tuesday Talk post last week was about the Lovely Blog Award - an accolade passed on from one blogger to another. I was delighted to receive it (thank you Anna Belfrage for awarding it to me!) But, and please don't think I'm being ungrateful....  it isn't quite the Booker Prize is it? 

As authors, we write because we want to. For some of us, though, we write because we have to. It’s compulsive. We scribble away into the dark hours of night (or in the early silly-o’clock hours of the morning,) taking every opportunity to get another line, paragraph, page, or chapter committed to paper or hard-drive file. When not writing our thoughts are swirling with what we intend to write: planning that next scene, thinking about how a new character can be developed more, or whether we ought to ditch the one who doesn’t seem to be toeing the line plot-wise.

Then there is the editing. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the editing process, improving that first, somewhat raggedy draft into something that resembles a readable story, then fine-tuning and polishing it. And doing so all over again after the first technical edit, again after a copy-edit and yet again after the proof read. But does anyone know how those pesky typos still manage to get missed?

With excitement we look forward to publication day, eagerly anticipating dozens of five star reviews on Goodreads. Of shooting to the top of the Amazon ranking list and receiving a nice royalty cheque at some point in the near future. Maybe we will be offered that movie deal and reach the dizzy height of the cherished Best-Seller accolade. Or holy of holies, find our labour of love and hard work placed on a long list for an award, and see it move up to the short list. And the final…

Unfortunately the world of writing novels isn’t quite as simple as that. Especially if you are an Indie author. By Indie I mean self-published, which in this instance is any author who has paid a financial contribution – large or small - towards producing their book, be it for the entire production, editing costs, cover design etc.

Indie writers are gaining in respectability in the literary world; we are, at last, being taken seriously. Many authors, now, like myself, are what is being termed as “hybrid”, we have a foot in both camps, traditional mainstream and Indie. With the big publishing houses often deciding not to re-print our backlist titles we have found the option to regain the copyright and re-publish under our own steam. What’s more, we are doing it quite successfully. Enough to make the publishing industry start to think twice about the previous negative attitude towards self-publishing.

Novice indie writers are also realising that to be taken seriously as an author they have to produce a book with quality presentation as well as quality writing. It does not matter how fantastic your writing style or the narrative is if the book you intend to self-publish is printed in the taboo Comic Sans font, with double-line paragraph spacing, incorrect indents, too wide or too narrow margins, and the text set as left justified. No one worth their salt is going to look twice or take you seriously.

“No!” I hear you cry, “it is the content that is important, not the layout!” Wrong. If I pay good money for something – be it a book, dress, pair of shoes, cd or whatever, I expect it to meet a certain standard. If it looks wrong or amateur then it does not qualify as ‘professional’. If you are going to do it – do it properly!

Authors  hope for that illusive possibility of an award, but there are few opportunities for Indie writers. Most award presentations carry a high entrance fee, and with no publishing house to support us we have to pay for everything including supplying at least one copy of the book, which entails printing costs and postage. Nor are there that many prestigious awards for the Indies. We need a high profile Booker equivalent, but whether it will ever come about is anyone’s guess. Most literary associations do not even accept indie-written books for review, let alone consider them for an award.

But there are a few openings and we eagerly pour over them in case they might give us the opportunity we need to be placed and get noticed.

Here, the Indie author is no different to the mainstream. We would love to win an award. We enter and tell our friends and avid readers that we are not worried about winning, we are just delighted to be recognised enough to be placed on that long list with the other hopeful authors. And we hide our disappointment when we don’t reach the shortlist, or that treasured Winner Result.

An Indie B.R.A.G medallion is a good achievement for indie authors to gain - basically, it is a mark of a "good read" and worth aiming for ( details here ), Worth getting. But it isn't a 'prize'.

When Ann Author, who we ‘know’ quite well in the virtual world, gets to the shortlist and we don’t we graciously say “congratulations” on Facebook and Twitter (all the while seething inside because her books are nowhere near as good as ours). But we are writers by trade and we have the ability to produce believable stories, don’t we?

 We are pretty good at convincing ourselves that it doesn’t matter, that awards really are not that important. We shrug, think, ‘Ah well, another prize has passed by, maybe the next novel will be The One.’

Or the one after that.

Or the one after that…


In addition to being a traditional and Indie-published author, with a best-seller listing to my credit, (no awards though L  ) I am the Managing Editor for the Historical Novel Society Indie Review.

The HNS welcomes submissions from all Indie writers of Historical Fiction, and with the aim of encouraging quality writing and production of self-published historical fiction is proud to announce a newly-initiated Historical Fiction Indie Award.

There is no entrance fee; novels will be selected for potential long-listing from all novels submitted for review.

For full details:

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