First up, tour stuff. My Saturday host Madison Woods has regained internet after being waterlogged over the weekend. I’m over there talking about finding the extraordinary in the ordinary. Today I’m over at Curiously Twisted with Dara England and I’m actually talking about Forsaken By Shadow.
Don’t forget about the blog contest! If you’ve entered, be sure to leave a comment so I have an accurate record!
So Pot and I were talking about awards this morning. I read an independently published YA fantasy recently that was a winner of the 2009 Indie Book Award in its category. I confess that the award and the kick ass cover art were largely what prompted me to go ahead and shell out the money to buy it (when most of the indie reads I’ve been reading lately have been free). Now I don’t actually know a whole lot about the Indie Book Award, but I saw that and in my mind, that meant that this book had been vetted by SOMEBODY and was, therefore, probably worth a buck.
Vetting is something we talk about a lot. This is one of the biggest arguments people make against self-published work–that it isn’t vetted. Vetting–the process of sifting through the dreck to leave us with the gold–is supposed to be the job of New York. I won’t get into whether or not they actually do a good job of this. But vetting is a process I do actually believe in. I just don’t think it HAS to be a New York agent or editor who does it. I have a fabulous team of fellow writers who help me go through and edit, polish, and shine my work until it is the best it can possibly be. They vet my work so that you get the best final product I can produce. Most self-published work does not adhere to this standard, which is something that those who use the term indie are trying to change.
Anyway, to return to my point, since most self-published stuff has no guarantee of having been vetted by…anybody, I have been wondering about the value of awards as such. Pot maintains that she’s never heard of it, and in general doesn’t care about awards. Stuff like the summary, the cover, and recommendations from others go a lot further in making her more likely to try an indie read. Having picked up several that were highly rated that I found to be total crap, that doesn’t always cut it for me.
So I’m curious what the prevailing opinion is. And that means POLL!
And I guess the reason all of this is relevant to me (other than straight curiosity) is I’m wondering whether it will ultimately be worth the expense of ENTERING some of these awards contests as an indie writer. At an entry fee of $75, and considering Kindle is my biggest sales platform, I would have to sell 215 copies to pay for the entry fee. I wonder whether having a “Winner of X award” in my description would have that big an impact on sales to justify the expense. Inquiring minds want to know.
For me, thinks like the Indie Excellence Book Award, and the Writer’s Digest Self-pubbed book award DO mean something. The books that win these awards tend to be quality on every level. And I intend to submit my books to these contests (my print books). Now granted, I may not win or even come close, but… it would be a real honor to win one, IMO.
I find it curious that you state that “most self-published stuff has no guarantee of having been vetted by…anybody” – how could you know that? You say that “vetting” doesn’t have to be done by editors or agents, and vetting in writer’s groups counts, so why would you assume that “most” self-published writers do not belong to a writer’s group?
Apart from it being one of the biggest criticisms of self published material in the first place, I’m basing it on my personal reading experience. I’ve read a lot of terrible work by people who DO fit the self publishing stereotype of not wanting to edit or proofread their work in the first place. Just spend five minutes trolling smashwords and look at those out of control wordcounts and poorly written blurbs. If they had a critique group who approved that, then they need to find a new one.
If you’ve seen most self-pubbed books, you would never ask that question. If most self-pubbed writers are in writing groups getting critiqued, they need a new writing group, or their cat should be vetting their book for them. It’ll come out at about even.
I say this as someone who is self-published, and proudly so. But statistically speaking, MOST self-pubbed authors either just don’t care about quality, or don’t have the ability to see they are lacking in it. But either way, they aren’t going the extra mile to find discerning readers of their genre to help them out. Most of them aren’t even “trying” to compete.
This may sound harsh, but it’s absolutely true. I don’t think indie authors do themselves any favors by acting like it’s not true.