How Much Difference Does an Award Make?

Over on Novel Rocket, one of the premier blogs for Christian fiction fans, novelist Jim Rubart asks the readers whether literary awards influence their choice in reading material. Jim’s newest release,ย The Chair, was nominated for the Christy Award–the Oscar for Christian Fiction, as he puts it, and he’s right.

Jim is a finalist for the Carol Award too, though in a different category (thank heavens!) from my ownย Give the Lady a Ride, which is a finalist in the debut novel category. We won’t know how we fared until September, but in the meantime, I wonder, as he does, how much difference an award makes to the reader.

I don’t think most readers know the different awards gifted to winning novelists–things like the Carol, the Rita, the Gumshoe, the Spur. These days, there are other “awards” offered too, many of which are based more on an author’s personality than the quality of his book. Friends and fans go to a site and hit “like” however many times is allowed to pump the author up in the charts until the contest is over and, if he’s popular enough, he’s declared the winner. From that point on, regardless of whether any of his voters have actually read the book, he can claim he’s an award-winning novelist.

Legitimate awards are bestowed to the author by his peers, and even being a finalist is quite an honor. But does it matter to the reader? The things an author dreams of–being on the New York Times best seller list, or on the now defunct Oprah list, or winning one of the top awards in our field–does any of this matter to the reader?

Let me know what you think:

By the way, if you want to see the list of Carol Award finalists along with the book covers, author Cecelia Dowdy went through a lot of trouble to let you do just that. Click on her site, Cecelia’s Christian Fiction Blog, to see the full list.

About Linda W. Yezak

Author/Freelance Editor/Speaker (writing and editing topics).
This entry was posted in Personal, Reading, Writing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to How Much Difference Does an Award Make?

  1. rlmorgan51 says:

    One author I know won an award [came in as a runner-up] noticed no increase in the amount of sales. The economy has A LOT to do with this through the industry. You’ve got to be well-known for people to but your book. Celebrities sell tons of their books, regardless of how well it had been written, solely due to fact of who they are, ๐Ÿ˜ฆ


    • Linda Yezak says:

      You are so right. Celebrities sell books just because of who they are–and their ghost writers never get any credit. It is so hard to compete with that!

      I don’t know that winning an award would do any good for sales without promotional activity. Unless we authors actively promote our books, we don’t have a prayer regardless of awards won.

      Thanks for your comment!


  2. Lynne says:

    In answer to the question “Do readers care?” Having been on the other side of the fence in the not-too-distant past . . . I can attest that before putting on my author’s hat the only award that impressed me was “NYT Best-seller.” And sometimes that doesn’t mean anything (re: celebrities, etc.) But selling a lot of books carries more weight than winning a popularity contest. That said, being given award by your peers is something to covet and cherish.

    I usually pick my reads by favorite author or friend recommendation. Unless I’m browsing and run across something that sounds too good to pass up. Promo and a well-designed cover go a long way if it’s a good story.

    I’m rooting for you for the Carol Award.


  3. rlmorgan51 says:

    Lynne, the only problem I see with your reply is that the “NYT Bestseller” list is NOT an award, it is a measuring tool based on how well a book is selling, and nothing more. It’s just like looking at the Sales Ranking of a book on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
    Awards are given by a panel of unbiased judges who review the book on several categories and then compare several books with each other based on the same criteria. selecting the best one.


    • Lynne says:

      Good morning, rlmogan51! Sorry I didn’t choose my words well. Three lashes with a wet noodle. ๐Ÿ™‚ I shouldn’t have called it an award. I do know the difference. I was just “reading Linda’s mind” and sharing how I choose my reads. Have a great day today!


      • Linda Yezak says:

        True, technically a NYT Best Seller tag is not an award, but I’d love to be “not awarded” like that! ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€


      • rlmorgan51 says:

        Hi Lynne,
        When I wrote my reply, my mind was in edit mode, especially writing seven pages the day before. Awards are meaningful to people, but they belong to a circle of people in the know, a circle of people who closely follow the happenings within a specific genre.
        Personally I would, once I get my YA Paranormal/Time Travel/First Kiss romance novel self-published, love to receive even one award in this genre. If I did, I feel I would have established myself as an author there, and would look at in a different by its dovotee readers.


  4. lynne says:

    And so you shall be, one day. ๐Ÿ™‚


  5. Honestly, as a reader I don’t know that I’ve ever made a reading choice based on an award – although award-winning authors automatically garner a small extra measure of respect. I *have* considered making a point of reading all the Pulitzer winners in fiction, but that’s about as far as my personal interest goes.


    • Linda Yezak says:

      As a reader, I’m a little more impressed by award winners than you, but as a writer, I want to devour them. What makes them award winners? So many books, so little time . . . :/


  6. C.L. Dyck says:

    First and foremost, congratulations on your finalist placement!!!

    In my extremely brief and limited experience, awards mostly influence a writer’s connections and credibility within publishing circles. While that may not influence sales of the winning book, it may help open doors to further career opportunities. So there’s possibly an indirect relationship to how well-read one becomes as a result, but a rather longitudinal one: careers take time to build, even with boosts.


    • Linda Yezak says:

      I think you’re right, Cat–they’re mostly good for the author.

      Considering the size of my first royalty check, I can attest to your statement, “careers take time to build.” ๐Ÿ˜›


Talk to me--I love comments!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.