Why Awards Are Important but No Guarantee of Sales
Blogger: Mary Keeley
Book awards–even being a finalist–are an honor to receive, a reward for an author’s research, toil, and dedication to creating a gripping story or compelling nonfiction book. Award banquets provide authors the opportunity to gather and celebrate each other’s achievements. However, here’s an interesting reality in the industry: Awards don’t necessarily equal great sales.
Here are some obvious benefits to your career when you win an award:
- Contest awards help new authors to obtain a contract. Book awards help published authors get the next contract.
- Awards and being a finalist give authors recognition among their peers. And let’s be honest . . . that feels good. Who doesn’t want to feel his or her work is respected by others in the industry?
- Dreams of an award motivate writers to strive for a higher level of craftsmanship.
- Finalistis and winners get prime name recognition on announcements and press releases. The news is quick, easy material for bloggers, tweeters, and Facebook fans, which multiplies the positive exposure.
Why is it that the buzz generated around award winners and the impressive, medallion-like seals that go on winners’ books don’t automatically translate to great sales? What does it mean for the majority of authors? Here are several takeaways.
- Beautiful writing alone won’t get you the next contract. Your editor, marketing and sales staff, your agent, and the publishing executives all might love your book and root for its success, but if your sales are low on that winner, they might decide not to offer you another contract. The business aspect trumps creative genius. It has to. Publishers must maintain financial health; it’s important for everyone involved in this industry.
- Your award-winning story or topic may be a work of art in terms of craft, but if it resonates with only a niche audience, that will be reflected in your sales. If this reality comes as a surprise, you need to do some analyses until you understand why and remedy the issue for your next book. You can be sure your publisher will expect some insights from you if they decide to publish your next book. This is one area in which a good agent’s guidance is valuable because he or she knows it’s imperative that you have excellent sales numbers on the next project.
- For the majority of published and unpublished authors—those who don’t win the coveted few awards given—this reality should encourage you. It levels the playing field. Books that sell well have broad audience appeal and tell a great story or present a topic that sparks the interest of many readers. In other words, you don’t have to be an award- winner to have a successful, fulfilling career as an author.
What award do you aspire to win? Why? What book have you bought because it won an award? If you have been a nominee, finalist, or winner of a writing award, in what ways are you heartened by this publishing insight?