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Thread: Book Excellence Awards

  1. #1
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    Book Excellence Awards

    I did a search, but couldn't find anything here that addressed the Book Excellence Awards directly. I'm always leery about contests that require a fee, and this one comes in at a rather steep $99 for one category; you'll pay less per category if you put your novel into multiple slots. Everyone should be able to find some category for their book since there are 50 or more of the things.

    Their testimonials are intriguing, with one author calling BEA "one of Canada's premier writing competitions", but I'd never heard of it until recently. Perhaps because I'm not Canadian? I've read one "award-winning" BEA self-published novel that failed to impress me at all, but that doesn't mean anything. I gave up on Moby Dick before I reached page 100.

    Are these awards worth anything other than emotional satisfaction, or are they a money grab? If someone here has won a BEA, did it help your career in a real cash-in-the-bank fashion?

  2. #2
    Write. Write. Writey Write Write. mrsmig's Avatar
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    They're a money grab. Plain and simple.
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  3. #3
    Ferret Herder JulianneQJohnson's Avatar
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    The fee itself isn't automatically suspect. Many literary awards have an entrance fee, even some of the big boys. However, there are other red flags. The focus is far too broad. Most legit literary awards focus on a single genre or style, this one has like 100 categories. (I may have exaggerated slightly) Another red flag for me is that this is only the competition's second year running. It also is not sponsored by any specific group, such as a publisher or writing organization. It's owned by it's own company. Certainly one could enter, and one might win, but what good is an award no one has ever heard of? There is also no cash prize, so it's clear that the entrance fees are going into the company's pocket. Prizes are an array of questionable crap such as marketing guides and being listed on the contest's website. Ooooh, and there's an official certificate! This one does not look legit to me.

  4. #4
    Jai guru deva om cllcl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JulianneQJohnson View Post
    Certainly one could enter, and one might win, but what good is an award no one has ever heard of?
    Hey all!
    I just received honors from the BEAs and found this thread.

    I entered among other competitions, and though I did do my due diligence, at that time there wasn't much...adieu? I entered to begin the journey of receiving honors for my writing.

    The BEA is not a scam; it's more an exchange--a 'hey author, pay me and I'll give you an award.' The author should be sort of "in on it." The problem is, prestige in the literary realm is everything, so bragging rights to a non-prestigious award could potentially backfire.

    The problem with /that/ is that the literary realm is such that there is a small elite top, a severely robust bottom, and no middleclass, safe for a few rough diamonds. So the majority of writers, especially decent ones--those told not to self-publish, but to sick it out--are forced to try and maintain an enthusiasm for their craft while attempting to hold together their evermore fragile self-esteem through constant rejections while watching agents happily post rejection ‘passes’ for fun on twitter. I personally am agented and published, but does that make me a better writer than my unagented, unpublished friends?
    Nope. It just makes me ‘feel’ like I am, and that’s just as unlegit as a pay-to-play award. And I watch as the struggle for any kind of ‘yes’ causes some of the greatest writers I know to abandon their life’s purpose.

    Basically, authors are looking for innovative ways to stick out, and the literary industry makes that more difficult as it continues to widen the prestige divide. So what is an author to do?

    In terms of the BEAs, all I can do is hope that it climbs the ranks of legitimacy by linking up with a sponsor and addressing some of the newbie issues it has.

    I do believe that as they up their game, they can attract some legitimate/decent attention, and at that time, I can post my sticker proudly.

    My apologies for the rant!

  5. #5
    Mushroom Polenth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cllcl View Post
    Basically, authors are looking for innovative ways to stick out, and the literary industry makes that more difficult as it continues to widen the prestige divide. So what is an author to do?

    In terms of the BEAs, all I can do is hope that it climbs the ranks of legitimacy by linking up with a sponsor and addressing some of the newbie issues it has.

    I do believe that as they up their game, they can attract some legitimate/decent attention, and at that time, I can post my sticker proudly.
    Their game is making money from authors. Their game is not being an award that will be respected in the industry. So they're not going to suddenly change and make your award mean something. I realise you want to believe it as you don't want to think you wasted money, but it's important to see what's going on so you don't end up here again. Or end up persuading anyone else you know to try it.

    It is difficult to get noticed, and it's easy to feel bad about that, which is precisely why you need to be careful. There are a lot of companies who'll exploit those feelings and offer solutions. But all you end up buying is some warm feelings, not something that'll help you launch a career.
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  6. #6
    Jai guru deva om cllcl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Polenth View Post
    I realise you want to believe it as you don't want to think you wasted money, but it's important to see what's going on so you don't end up here again.
    I think it goes back to the point of whether the author is "in on it" or "already gets it" and isn't exactly being duped, but is engaging in pay-to-play--a practice frowned on specifically in the more prestigious circles of the literary industry.

  7. #7
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    Or, save the $99 by just printing up a certificate on your home printer with the name of a prestigious non-existent writing award on it.

  8. #8
    Mildly Disturbing Filigree's Avatar
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    In the small-press world, especially in romance, there's a big market for *any* credential that can influence reviewers and readers. Sure, you pay to enter BEA, EPIC, Rainbow Awards, or whatever...instead of being nominated with more 'prestigious' industry awards. But the average reader doesn't know that. They see an award badge and say 'ooo, an award.'

    It's all marketing and spin. Is it honest and ethical? Maybe not. But in the quest to get one more review or sale, some authors will do much worse than paid-award schemes.

    Added: both paid and nomination awards come down to a popularity contest, if you want to get really cynical.

    I should probably write up a Filigree's Rule post about it, though.
    Last edited by Filigree; 10-04-2017 at 12:43 AM.

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  9. #9
    please distract me mccardey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cllcl View Post
    I entered among other competitions, and though I did do my due diligence, at that time there wasn't much...adieu? I entered to begin the journey of receiving honors for my writing.

    The BEA is not a scam; it's more an exchange--a 'hey author, pay me and I'll give you an award.' The author should be sort of "in on it." The problem is, prestige in the literary realm is everything, so bragging rights to a non-prestigious award could potentially backfire.
    Prestige in the literary realm isn't everything, but I would imagine what prestige there is would come from writing good books, not from buying awards.

  10. #10
    Jai guru deva om cllcl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Filigree View Post
    - In the small-press world, especially in romance, there's a big market for *any* credential that can influence reviewers and readers. Sure, you pay to enter BEA, EPIC, Rainbow Awards, or whatever...instead of being nominated with more 'prestigious' industry awards. But the average reader doesn't know that. They see an award badge and say 'ooo, an award.'

    - in the quest to get one more review or sale, some authors will do much worse than paid-award schemes.
    Exactly what I was trying to say through my babble and prattle! I'd look at it as more of a service for authors looking for a quick badge of honor, and I feel most authors who participate would know that on some level. I mean, I did. When I signed up, it was about $30 bucks cheaper though, so it is bit of a pricey marketing tool. But I think I'm no longer hesitant to just share the news. I'll see what it does for sales and circle back here with an update!

  11. #11
    Perpetually in transit Helix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cllcl View Post
    Exactly what I was trying to say through my babble and prattle! I'd look at it as more of a service for authors looking for a quick badge of honor
    It's not actually a badge of honour, though, is it? It's like those made up medals pinned to the coat of a crazy dictator.

    Quote Originally Posted by cllcl View Post
    and I feel most authors who participate would know that on some level. I mean, I did. When I signed up, it was about $30 bucks cheaper though, so it is bit of a pricey marketing tool. But I think I'm no longer hesitant to just share the news. I'll see what it does for sales and circle back here with an update!
    I prefer the awards where the cash comes to you.


  12. #12
    Jai guru deva om cllcl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helix View Post

    I prefer the awards where the cash comes to you.
    Absolutely! Though many readers won't know the diff, those are definitely preferable! I'll see what it does for my bottom line in the end!

  13. #13
    please distract me mccardey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cllcl View Post
    Absolutely! Though many readers won't know the diff, those are definitely preferable! I'll see what it does for my bottom line in the end!
    Isn't that - I don't know - rather dishonest? If they think they're buying an award-winning book and it's not an actual award, isn't that a bit dodgy? Sort of the exact opposite of prestigious?

    I wouldn't do it.
    Last edited by mccardey; 10-04-2017 at 01:58 AM.

  14. #14
    Jai guru deva om cllcl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mccardey View Post
    Isn't that - I don't know - rather dishonest? If they think they're buying an award-winning book and it's not an actual award, isn't that a bit dodgy? Sort of the exact opposite of prestigious?

    I wouldn't do it.
    I think it goes back to what Filigree said. "In the small-press world, especially in romance, there's a big market for *any* credential that can influence reviewers and readers." "It's all marketing and spin." "both paid and nomination awards come down to a popularity contest"

  15. #15
    Heckuva good sport frimble3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald View Post
    Or, save the $99 by just printing up a certificate on your home printer with the name of a prestigious non-existent writing award on it.
    Or get one of those seal-embossers and make your own line of little 'gold-seal' awards you can stick on your books.

  16. #16
    Jai guru deva om cllcl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by frimble3 View Post
    Or get one of those seal-embossers and make your own line of little 'gold-seal' awards you can stick on your books.
    Haha! Nice!

  17. #17
    Perpetually in transit Helix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by frimble3 View Post
    Or get one of those seal-embossers and make your own line of little 'gold-seal' awards you can stick on your books.
    Or just claim to be award-winning. I've seen several writers (not on AW!) refer to themselves as 'award-winning' when their work was only short-listed.

    Being short-listed for truly competitive awards is good in itself, but it's not actually winning an award. smdh


  18. #18
    Becoming a laptop-human hybrid Fuchsia Groan's Avatar
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    I was a finalist for a state award (nominated, no payment), and I think I did see a sales bump every time it was in the local media. (I'm no scientist of sales, but it seemed to correlate.) So, yeah, awards can be wonderful for visibility.

    OTOH, as a member of the media myself, I've started researching the awards that authors tout when they make a pitch to me, just as I research their publishers if I haven't heard of them. If an award has a high entrance fee and a ton of winners, I tend to disregard it. Doesn't mean I won't look at the book, but I don't see the award as a reason to. Could be more journalists are getting savvy about this.
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  19. #19
    Mildly Disturbing Filigree's Avatar
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    I know several authors who've paid to enter BEA or similar contests. I look a little sideways when I see their award banners...but I can't begrudge them the effort. I'm launching a book next year for which I might be tempted. Just for publicity. Because it snags readers, and it's a cheaper ad buy than a spot in industry magazines.

    Would I rather my high fantasy romance gets into a 'big' genre category award contest? Sure. Even at finalist levels, there's positive attention. But for my book that's a vanishingly small chance, unless our ARC schedules line up, and the magazines we're targeting take us seriously.

    Will I use BEA? No, because they're too small, too new, and the reviewers I'm going to target already know it's basically a pay-to-play award. But there are some paid contests in Romance I might try.
    Last edited by Filigree; 10-04-2017 at 09:02 AM.

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  20. #20
    Christine Tripp ctripp's Avatar
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    I don't know how readers are still impressed by Author Mill Awards. In Kid Lit almost every book on Amazon sports a sticker on the cover, almost every Author calls themselves (continually and everywhere) "Award" winning. In self pub and Vanity press lit, the practice of paying for dozen's of awards is the norm.
    I don't know how paying for a service like BEA then saying your award winning is any different then paying a Vanity press, & calling yourself a Published Author. BEA lists a whole whack of "prestigious" Authors, who's "publishers" are the likes of Morgan James, Strategic.
    For every 1 writer that goes in with eyes open that it's not a legit contest, there are likely 50 paying up who think it's the real deal.

  21. #21
    Christine Tripp ctripp's Avatar
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    "both paid and nomination awards come down to a popularity contest"

    I don't think so. Paid isn't a popularity contest, it's been bought, almost everyone wins if you've paid for it and then you get to pay again, for a role of stickers, in many cases. Nominated IS a popularity contest, the popularity of the book and for the Author there is great pride in that.

    2 books I Illustrated were nominated, as a Canadian, for the Forest of Reading Awards, in consecutive years. Not a winner but 1st runner up, I saw very little in the way of a sales bump (some sales in advance of the awarding, to schools, as classes had to have copies of nominated books to vote on) Only thing that may (don't know this for sure... but timing) have been related to the nominations was Scholastic Book Club licensing deals with the Publisher for both but then in financial reality, at 5% royalty for me, 5% to the Author, it didn't translate to much. What you do have though, is a good feeling about it all. If I had bought an award, I might of made a couple dozen, even say 100 extra sales and just been embarrassed to add it to my portfolio because I, my peers and the industry would know it MEANS nothing (even worse, the industry people I know, what to work with, could think it means I KNOW nothing!)


  22. #22
    Jai guru deva om cllcl's Avatar
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    I might of made a couple dozen, even say 100 extra sales
    [/QUOTE]

    This is an awesome discussion!
    I just had a vibrant debate with my readers circle on this! Again, I'm a super new author, newly published, newly agented, so I am definitely still learning; but from the debate, I learned less about awards and more about a general divide among authors (in practice). Everyone in the circle was/is very polite (mainly because we're in person ), but the debates seemed to split between small-press/self-published authors versus authors with their eyes set on trade publishing. All authors generally had the same complaints, but their practices, beliefs and values differed greatly.

    I'm seeing where I'd personally like to fit myself, but from where I sat, I'm finding there's no shame in either side of the debate. I think, and this is my personal opinion, that the most important thing is that an author be informed...doing nothing doe-eyed to later feel duped, but doing everything eyes-open and with their ultimate sales or publishing goals in mind.

  23. #23
    Herder of Hamsters AW Admin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mccardey View Post
    Isn't that - I don't know - rather dishonest? If they think they're buying an award-winning book and it's not an actual award, isn't that a bit dodgy? Sort of the exact opposite of prestigious?

    I wouldn't do it.
    Neither would I. Don't think much of fake academic degrees or people wearing fake medals, either.
    Last edited by AW Admin; 10-04-2017 at 04:45 PM.

  24. #24
    Jai guru deva om cllcl's Avatar
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    Receiving the Book Excellence Award does not necessarily mean a book is "excellent." Though the book might be, the award certainly won't reflect that. A lot of the marketing practices used today don't help reflect merit. But then I see peers (added: using such marketing practices) selling books out the wazoo. I read them and think, "meh, there's no way their next book will sell like this," and then it does, and I think, "uh...okay?"

    My agent didn't frown on the award, esp since I'd applied to it before she chose to rep my work, but did say that, though such awards have their place, we'll focus on other avenues of accolade.

    So I believe that until the realms of the industry that accept a certain award poo-poo on it, people will continue to use it as a marketing tool as much as an ad buy.

    I can't hate on anyone for 'doing them,' but I do believe it can show where within the industry an author lies, and the author can choose to remain in that realm or go a different direction.
    Last edited by cllcl; 10-04-2017 at 06:15 PM.

  25. #25
    Mildly Disturbing Filigree's Avatar
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    Re: popularity contests. I should have clarified about most small 'paid' contests I've seen over the years. In many cases, no, you don't automatically get a gold star for just ponying up money. There's often a relatively small pool of entrants, and when the contest is judged by popular acclaim (Who gets the most reader comments/votes, wins) instead of a formal jurying session...yes, someone wins, and the rest are at best 'finalists'.

    Nominating awards like the Hugo can outwardly present themselves the same way: a small group that gets nominated, then a free-for-all battle among the voting members of the convention(s). But those can be judged, and usually are, by various 'quality' metrics. (Even accounting for Sad and Rabid Puppy attempts to game the system.) The voting populace is much larger.

    As Cllcl noted, lots of authors jump on small paid awards as a marketing tool. So many that, among publishing industry people in the know, those awards can appear to separate authors working with large trade publications, and small-press or self-published authors.

    The latter two have readerships that may not know or care about the award's history and legitimacy. If it gets another 100 sales, yay!

    It only becomes a problem for author (and agent) when the author wants to aim a new mms at a larger publisher. I don't have proof in writing yet, but I know at least two agents who've said (recent past to five years ago) that an author's paid contest wins may have interfered with contract negotiations at a larger press. A hundred extra small-press sales, vs. a perception of unprofessional/naive behavior that either added to the new mms' rejection, or unfavorable terms in the contract, and/or no contract extension at renewal time.

    The agent I had at the time cautioned me strongly against entering my small-press debut into too many paid contests, while she was trying to place an unrelated mms at a bigger publisher.
    Last edited by Filigree; 10-04-2017 at 07:08 PM.

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