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"Roundheads and Ramblings"

awards

The Long and the Short of It

Apparently this is my day to shine a little. Two e-mail messages awaited me after lunch today. And I hope my pun-loving friends will forgive me for calling this 'the long and the short of it."

First came this message from the Military Writers Society of America:


"Your book, Damned Yankee, received a GOLD Medal in the 2016 Military Writers Society of America awards historical fiction category." 

Damned Yankee is the first of three volumes of The Grenville Trilogy. Published in 2014, this 400-page historical novel chronicles the fortunes of one South Carolina family as they weathered the chaos of the Civil War and its far-reaching after-effects. 

The reviewer wrote: "Damned Yankee is a fine tale of the war from the perspective of the overlooked bystanders who bear no arms but suffer equally from the ravages of the conflict. It is recommended to anyone who enjoys Civil War fiction."

 

Then came the announcement of the results from a Facebook-publicized poetry contest.


 Anyone who knows me will tell you that brevity is not among my finest qualities. So asking me to submit a 17-syllable poem challenged my self-control to its utmost limits. But, inspired one hot, dry, summer day while mourning my withering flowerbed, I found a touch of inspiration:
For the record, this particular lizard had a vivid blue tail, and my first thought was that I was seeing  scrap of plastic from a newspaper wrapper. When I reached for it, he jumped and scared the bejezzus out of me! What was worse, the end of the tail broke off, just as it is designed to do in case of a predator's attack. 

And that is truly the long and short of it!

What a Nice Surprise!

Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Katzenhaus Books Receives 2013 Best of Cordova Award
Cordova Award Program Honors the Achievement

CORDOVA November 12, 2013 -- Katzenhaus Books has been selected for the 2013 Best of Cordova Award in the Publishers category by the Cordova Award Program.

Each year, the Cordova Award Program identifies companies that we believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and our community. These exceptional companies help make the Cordova area a great place to live, work and play.
Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2013 Cordova Award Program focuses on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the Cordova Award Program and data provided by third parties.

About Cordova Award Program
The Cordova Award Program is an annual awards program honoring the achievements and accomplishments of local businesses throughout the Cordova area. Recognition is given to those companies that have shown the ability to use their best practices and implemented programs to generate competitive advantages and long-term value.

The Cordova Award Program was established to recognize the best of local businesses in our community. Our organization works exclusively with local business owners, trade groups, professional associations and other business advertising and marketing groups. Our mission is to recognize the small business community's contributions to the U.S. economy.

SOURCE: Cordova Award Program

CONTACT:
Cordova Award Program
Email: PublicRelations@awardprogram.org
URL: http://www.awardprogram.org

###

Getting Ready for a Conference--Awards Edition

What else must I prepare for? Well,  of course there’s the suspense over the book awards that will be announced on Saturday night at the Military Writers Sociey of America banquet. Somehow I managed to garner two different nominations. The first is for my The Second Mouse Gets the Cheese: Avoiding the Traps of Self-Publishing in the category of Business and How-to  Books.  There are lots of nominations here, and our topics have wide-ranging differences: from losing weight to handling security clearance issues.  I’m glad I’m not a judge! It’s hard to pick the best bite out of a fruit salad.
 
And the second award nomination is even worse – Author of the Year.  How in  the world  can  anyone pick such a thing? The rules mention “a body of work” based on “literary excellence.”  What does that mean? The best book? The best series of books? The best variety of books? Work from the past or work projected into the future?  Best in terms of sales or reviews? Somehow I can’t imagine that title – Author of the Year – applying to me in any case, but I’m sure I’ll be nervous as the time approaches.
 
The whole affair gave me a new appreciation of awards shows as I watched part of the Emmy Awards the other night.  I fully understood all those crumpled and damp pieces of paper with notes on them for an acceptance speech.  What does one say?  How blank can your mind go? Should the winner announce that he’s “not worthy” in an imitation of the required ritual for a new pope? Does he do a Julia Dreyfus imitation and say it’s a shame someone else didn’t win?  And is there any purpose in thanking all those people who helped – starting with one’s first-grade teacher and  including the mailman who delivered the acceptance letter from the publisher?  And what do you say when you don’t win? Oh dear! At least we won’t be tussling in the aisles like John Stewart and Stephen Colbert. At this point, however, I’d rather be in the back row, watching others trying to be gracious and humble.

Let Your Awards Keep On Giving!

Here's one more excerpt from Carolyn Howard-Johnson -- this time on what to do if you win an award for your book.

A list of things authors should do with their awards once they’ve won them appeared in the first edition of The Frugal Book Promoter and, because that information is so important, it appears in the just-released second edition, too. Here is the list authors (or folks in any business, really!) will want to keep for the day when they have an award they can use to help with their branding.
  • Add your new honor to the Awards page of your media kit. If it’s your first award, center it on a page of its own. Oh! And celebrate!
  • Write your media release announcing this coup. (See Chapter Eleven of the second edition of The Frugal Book Promoter to learn to build a targeted media list and Chapter Twelve to learn to write a professional media release.)
  • Post your news on media release distribution sites. Find a list of these sites here.
  • Notify your professional organizations.
  • Notify bookstores where you hope to have a signing and those where you have had a signing.
  • Notify your college and high school. Some have press offices. Most publish magazines for alumni and their current students.
  • Add this information to the signature feature (see Chapter Twenty) of your e-mail program.
  • Add this honor to the biography template you use in future media releases—the part that gives an editor background information on you.
  • Use this information when you pitch TV or radio producers, editors of newsletters and newspapers. and bloggers. It sets you apart from others and defines you as an expert.
  • If your book wins an award, order embossed gold labels from a company like http://labels-usa.com/embossed-labels.htm. You or your distributor can apply them to your books’ covers. If you win an important award, ask your publisher to redesign your bookcover or dustcover to feature it a la the Caldecott medal given for beautifully illustrated children’s books. If you don’t know this medal, visit your local bookstore and ask to see books given this award. It’s one of the most famous and most beautifully designed.
  • If your book is published as an e-book only, ask for the contest’s official badge or banner to use. If they don’t have one, make one of your own using http://bannerfans.com/banner_maker.php.
  • Be sure your award is front and center on your blog, your Web site, your Twitter wallpaper, and your social network pages.
  • Your award should be evident on everything from your business card to your checks and invoices. I use the footer of my stationery to tout my major awards.
  • Don’t forget to put your award in your e-mail signature.
  • Frame your award certificate and hang it in your office to impress visitors and to inspire yourself to soar even higher!

The Value of Book Contests

Would you ever consider paying someone $100.00 for the privilege of entering a book contest? Sound like a scam? Well, think again. Book contests can help your marketing efforts in many ways. Granted, $100.00 sounds like a lot of money to someone who is only selling a few books a month, and that amount does not cover the cost of the book itself or your mailing costs, either. But a charge of $100.00 or less  is usually a legitimate one. Running a book contest is an expensive proposition. After all, someone has to pay for medals and ribbons, winner’s stickers, websites, postage, ads, and all the other related expenses. By charging relatively small fees, the sponsors of these contests are making it possible to reward many more fledgling authors.

Are you afraid the contest is rigged? If it has been operating for several years, you should be able to find a list of past winners. A legitimate contest should be listed in publications like Writers Markets or on the websites of the sponsoring organizations.  By all means, do your homework, and find a contest that appears reputable and designed for writers like yourself. Then read the rules and jump in.

Are you afraid of rejection? Failure is something you might as well get used to if you’ve decided to become a writer. Every one of us could paper a room with our rejection letters.  Lots of books just don’t make it. I saw a statistic recently that indicated that out of 1.2 million books published in the past year, only about 3000 of them will ever sell more than 50,000 copies. So welcome to the 99.75% of us who should not quit our day jobs. We all flounder together. A book contest may be just what you need to overcome that fear of failure. Even if you don’t win a thing, you’ll benefit.

You may be surprised to find that the very act of entering a contest makes you feel more confident about your own abilities.  After all, you have written a book that meets the qualifications of an organization that awards good writing.  You’ve followed guidelines and met a deadline. Best of all, you’ve proved to yourself that you have faith in your own work.  That’s important. 

If you don’t win, be sure to follow up.  Many such contests are willing to provide you with their reviewers’ comments, so that you can learn what it was that they did not like about your book. If you can learn from your first attempt, you’ll have a better shot at future contests. Also take a look at the winners.  Read their books or at least excerpts from them, so that you get an idea of what the reviewers liked about them.  That’s another lesson learned.

And what if you do win?  Even if you get nothing but an honorable mention sticker to put on your book, it will draw attention to your work and perhaps even help you sell more books. Publishers, agents, book sellers, and buyers are all impressed by those shiny little seals. A gold seal makes you stand out from that whole crowd of 1.2 million book authors. Win just one award, at any level, and you can call yourself an award-winning author. Put that on your website, display the seal or your medal everywhere you can, and use the award as a major factor in your marketing efforts.

This past year, I entered two contests — the Pinnacle Book Achievement Awards and the annual Military Writers Society of America Book Awards. Neither contest offered a Pulitzer or a Man Booker prize, but I profited greatly from both. Both contests give awards in many genres and are open to both traditional publishers and self-publishers. Both publish reviews of their book entries, and any self-publisher can use another book review. Remember that getting favorable publicity is a major part of your marketing effort.  

Pinnacle Awards, presented by the North American Booksellers Exchange (NABE), come out every three months, but the award seal does not give dates. I won my “Best Historical Fiction” award for Summer 2011, but the seal shows only the award, not the date.  The Military Writers Society of America (MWSA) awarded the same book a bronze medal for Biography. Again, the resulting seal shows only the award, not the date or genre. As soon as these contests announced their winners, my book sales began to improve. The NABE award resulted in my book being given a prominent display at two major book trade shows on the west coast.  To receive my medal from MWSA, I traveled to their convention, where I met wonderfully congenial and supportive writers. I am much the richer (and not just in cash!) for the experiences these contests have given me.  They were well worth the entry fees.