Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Five vanity awards

Awards are good things for books – the Pulitzer Prize, the Newberry Award, the Hugo, the Nebula. Awards imply the winning of contests. The problem is, not all contests are created equal.

1. EVVY Awards

Outskirts Press’s website says that the EVVY Award is presented by the Colorado Independent Publishers Association for self-published (read: vanity published) books.

EVVY Nominees and Winners may receive (“May?” -- Marian) any number of the following opportunities and recognition:

The recognition includes “a framed plaque”, which you may or may not receive. But what are the conditions? What do you have to do to enter the contest?

Competition is fierce and standards are high. New books published via the Diamond and Pearl packages are eligible for a 2008 EVVY Award Nomination (and all that comes with it).

Ahhh. You just need to have bought into one or both of the two most expensive packages Outskirts Press offers.

Diamond: $999.
Pearl: $1099.
Being published for real, and earning money instead of paying it: priceless.

Finally, I checked out the winners of the 2010 EVVY Awards. Of the 56 winners, 16 were published by Outskirts. Then again, some of the books seem to have won in multiple categories. Perhaps the competition wasn’t so “fierce” after all.

2. Readers’ Favorite Awards

According to the Readers’ Favorite website,

the primary purpose for this site is to help authors, so we will not list one or two-star books.

If people only say good things about authors, they’re not reviewers – they’re publicists. But on to the Readers’ Favorite contest. This has “Four award levels in each of 40 categories”, which means that there are 160 chances to win an award. And 160 ways to pay for it.

Entry Fee is $85.00 USD to enter your work in one Genre Category. You may enter in up to 2 additional Genre Categories for a fee of $65.00 for each one.

So Readers’ Favorite could potentially earn $13,600 from these awards. And what do the winners get for their money?

Book Awards grab the attention of book stores, publishers, libraries, and readers, which can translate into increased sales.

Note the wording again. “Can translate”. May not, when the librarians realize they’ve never heard of this particular award.

You can refer to your book as an “Award Winning Book” and you as an “Award Winning Author” on your book cover, website, and all other marketing materials.

Reminds me of vanity presses telling hopeful but inexperienced writers that they can now call themselves Published Authors.

You can say you’re a boiled egg but that doesn’t make you one.

You can add your Award Sticker to existing copies of your book, or incorporate a digital image of it into new or reprinted versions. We provide winners with a digital award seal for future publications of their book, 500 award stickers to affix to current printed books, and an award certificate.

To cut a long story short, you’re paying $85 (at a minimum) for stickers and a certificate.

3. Premier Book Awards

One way to check if a contest is legitimate or not is to see whether whoever’s running it is making a profit from the entrance fees. I found out about the Premier Book Awards because the grand prize winner posted about her win of $500.

But there are prizes… and there are prices.

For example, if you submit an entry in "Fiction - Fantasy" and also in "Fiction - Science Fiction" you would submit 2 copies of the book, $55 for the first category and $20 for the second category, for a total of $75.

In one year, 44 books were submitted, so the contest holder could theoretically have made a maximum of $2420. For that, I’d shell out $500 too – I’d still make a profit.

Another way to check the legitimacy of a contest is to see who the judges are. Premier Book Awards doesn’t release that information, and most of the books on its list of winners are published by vanity presses. There’s not much point in entering such a contest.

4. Best New Christian Writer

I first learned about this contest in a discussion of vanity press Tate Publishing, when one of their supporters and authors, Leon Mentzer, claimed that he was voted “Best New Christian Writer 2005” by

But who owns Christian Storyteller? I checked their website.

Use the PayPal button or send in a Check or money order for $35.00 to
Att: Leon Mentzer
480 East Grove Road
Decatur, Il. 62521

Which would be like my using this blog to give myself an award. Or, for that matter, to give my publisher one.

Tate Publishing named Best Christian Publisher

The award came from the “National Christian Storytellers Association”, a now defunct site. I wonder who owned and operated it?

Sadly, I’ve read of at least one person who was impressed enough by this award to sign up (and pay out).

5. International Open Poetry Contest

This was an excellent example of how you don’t have to shell out money upfront for something to be a vanity press. Anyone could send a poem in to the International Library of Poetry, and not only receive an acceptance letter but also be a semi-finalist.

The problem was that most people wanted some proof of this accomplishment – perhaps a copy of the anthology in which their poems appeared, or a plaque. And that’s where the fees applied. The anthology cost over $50. Bio? $25. Poems on a CD, a plaque, a medallion… it all adds up.

Finally, as an antidote to these and an example of a contest which charges no fees and offers a substantial prize, here’s the Wergle Flomp contest, which was actually inspired by a sting poem submitted to


Randall said...

When I finally get published, my bio will now state that I am a boiled egg.

Actually, I may self-publish something so I can put that on the cover in a fake medallion.

gypsyscarlett said...

What bothers me the most is the price of those entry fees. People getting rich off of exploiting other people's dreams.

Marian Perera said...

Randall - If I saw a book titled Memoirs of an Egg, I'd pick it up.

Tasha - I read a post on Writer Beware about fake poetry anthologies, and a couple of the comments defended this practice.

The posters felt that the poetry contest was providing people with something they wanted (the chance to see their work in print) and not forcing them to buy anything, so what was the problem? If they charged fifty bucks for an anthology... well, they had to cover their costs, didn't they?

People can justify anything, sadly.