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Hopewell Publications, LLC / Eric Hoffer Award / US Review of Books

editing_for_authors
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Joe likes puppies, writes love poetry, and beats his wife. I am perfectly comfortable with disliking Joe based on that particular point.

I don't mean to attack you here, but I do think that's a bit of a false analogy. If Joe beats his wife, that's horrible, and I hope you do more than dislike him--like report him to the police...unless, of course, the love poetry was your grounds for disliking him which, depending on the poetry, might have been a terrible offense as well :) Honestly, though, while I believe I understand the point behind the analogy, I don't believe that point in and of itself it disqualifies the legitimacy of an entire compeitition.

That was one of the other major points I was seeking to make. Personal and professional affectations don't equal a plethora of objective evidence, which I feel a site like this (that carries influence) should use before rendering judgment. I won't debate the matter if you feel that's grounds enough for you--I understand and if I were on the outside looking in on the competition I imagine I'd say the exact same thing.

What could possibly be the context that justifies the venomous, nasty emails above?

Point taken. Professional correspondence is professional correspondence and requires a civil tone. I don't mean to come across as an apologist for someone else's emails, either. I'm sorry if that appears to be the case.

My only (sadly stated) point is that in this particular case, given the limited but direct corresponded I've had with Christopher Klim when winning the award, I don't believe this one part (the representative and the email) truly represents the whole. I know it's meant to--I understand that this person appears to be a mouthpiece for the company and such and professional correspondence is a measuring stick--but I think it was but one example. To make a false analogy of my own--I've been treated rudely by business groups (surprise, surprise). I may or more than likely may not do business with them again, but that doesn't mean they're fraudulent in every major aspect. They may be, but more than an email is required before making a strong claim about fraudulent practices and scammers (referring more to other posts more than your own).


And welcome. I hope you stick around.

Thank you, Julie! I appreciate that. Honestly, though, I don't know that I have anything else to add. I thank Absolute Write for allowing me to post dissenting views and will be happy to address any of my comments further if anyone wishes it, but I don't want to be argumentative or to waste more bandwidth that someone with more important points might take up. I trust proponents of this site to make an informed decision and understand you're raising valid concerns that should be asked of any competition. I just want all sides to be considered before the thread slows down or ends. I truly believe--and I realize I'm alone on this--that this company sincerely means well in their efforts towards writers. I just wish all your questions on this site were answered plainly so that that side of the company / contest could come across. I apologize if I've offended anyone here and plan to descend to the depths and lurk on other threads for now. May God bless you all for your continued efforts on behalf of writers.
 

Momento Mori

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WritersNotesAdvocate:
I paid $40 to enter, but won $100 and the check cleared. Sounds like money flowing towards the writer to me.

You made $60. How long did you have to wait between forking over the $40 and getting $100 bacK? How many copies of your PA book would you need to sell to make the same amount in the same period?

Money flowing towards the writer should be real money, not a token amount to make you feel good about yourself.

WritersNotesAdvocate:
even awards as prestigious as the Pulitzer charge either entry or reading fees to be considered.

If you win the Pulitzer, you're national and international news and you win $10,000. A Pulitzer is an award that everyone in the industry knows about and respects. It's organised by people with a track record in the field and it's selective about its categories, entrance criteria and has proven judges.

Compare that with the Writers Notes Book Award, which takes everything and everyone, has no credibility in the field, gives token prizes and demands a high entrance fee with no proven criteria for judging.

In fact, you're probably better off entering the Pulitzer, as it's handling fee is $50 - only $10 more than Writers Notes. Although as Uncle Jim says, it's the publisher who pays this rather than the writer.

WritersNotesAdvocate:
While I won’t claim agents came pounding on my door or the press swarmed me
in hopes of an interview, I will say that I found the awards program to be exactly what its founders claimed it to be: an organized effort by writers helping writers who might otherwise go overlooked.

So you paid $40, won $100 but didn't get an agent and didn't get any publicity. Apart from the tingly feeling of having won $60 in a competition that no one knows about, what did you get from it precisely? How are you less overlooked now than you were before entering the competition?

If you're going to enter a competition then it should: (a) have some credibility within the market, and (b) offer cash prizes proportionate to the entrance fee (and paying 40 quid for a possible 60 quid return is absolutely lousy for what purports to be a national contest).

I understand that you probably don't want to hear people raining on your parade because someone's given your book a degree of acclaim. But in many ways, I have to say that Writers Notes is aspiring, at best, to be the PA of writing competitions as I can see no evidence either in the emails posted here or the details on its site that it's anything other than an excuse to shuck people of their hard earned cash.

MM
 
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Lauri B

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I put out the call for people to comment on their experience with the awards, and Writers Notes Advocate came to the plate. It sounds like your experience was a good one, WNA, and that you feel the awards were worth it to you. I'm glad to hear it.

I am disappointed and a little confused about the weird responses I received to emails I sent asking the contact at WNBA some specific questions about the awards. If I were paying $40 to enter, I'd like to know where all the money goes, who is judging my book, and what the criteria for judging is. How can an awards competition list more than a dozen categories of books, but pick a single grand prize winner? How will that happen? What kind of publicity can the entrants and winners expect? These aren't questions that should alarm anyone; they are standard questions anyone should ask before sending money in to any competition. The response I received was pretty strong and stated that I was full of rage for asking.

When publishers submit to such awards as the National Book Award, ALA awards for kids' books (including the Newbery and Caldecott), the specifics are spelled out; the committee members' names and addresses are available; there are no fees; and the awards are publicized throughout mainstream media, in both trade and consumer pubs.

The point I made in my original post is that there a lots of pay-to-play awards competitions out there, in every industry. Publishing seems to have more than its fair share, and many of them don't offer authors anything other than a feel-good certificate.

Thanks for posting; I appreciate hearing the other side.
 

James D. Macdonald

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The worthwhile awards are, generally, for books that have already been published.

You already know the names of the worthwhile awards, because you see them on the covers of the mass market editions. National Book Award. Pulitzer. Golden Duck. Caldecott. Newbery. Nebula. Edgar. Hugo. Rita.

The real contest is the one that every publisher runs every day. The contest is called "submission" and the prize is "publication," and the entry fee is zero.

(Do you want to know what the usual reaction to listing no-name contests in the cover letter is among editors? "If it's so great why's no one's bought it?")
 

JulieB

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James D. Macdonald said:
The Pulitzer entry fee is usually paid by the publisher. Show me an author who submitted his own book and I'll show you a fool.

What?!? Do you mean I... Dang.

(Just joking.)
 

Roger J Carlson

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James D. Macdonald said:
The Pulitzer entry fee is usually paid by the publisher. Show me an author who submitted his own book and I'll show you a fool.
Or someone who wants to put "Pulitzer Award Nominee" on their resume.
 

soloset

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WritersNotesAdvocate said:
Joe likes puppies, writes love poetry, and beats his wife. I am perfectly comfortable with disliking Joe based on that particular point.

I don't mean to attack you here, but I do think that's a bit of a false analogy. If Joe beats his wife, that's horrible, and I hope you do more than dislike him--like report him to the police...unless, of course, the love poetry was your grounds for disliking him which, depending on the poetry, might have been a terrible offense as well :) Honestly, though, while I believe I understand the point behind the analogy, I don't believe that point in and of itself it disqualifies the legitimacy of an entire compeitition.

The analogy was exaggerated for clarity. Let's put it a different way.

A company advertises its award winners in its magazine, pays the winner a small sum, and sends out spam emails to advertise its competition, with nasty follow-ups to anyone who asks about its validity.

I'm perfectly comfortable with disliking the company based on the last point.

You're right, though; just because I dislike a company and wouldn't participate in something it runs because of its marketing tactics doesn't disqualify the legitimacy of the entire competition.

Will putting this award in my query letter help me get published, or will the agent simply google the award, have a good laugh, and then put me in the "clueless" bin? How is winning this award better than that old bad advice to have someone you know make up an award and slap a gold star on your project so you can claim to have won an award?
 

CaoPaux

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soloset said:
Will putting this award in my query letter help me get published, or will the agent simply google the award, have a good laugh, and then put me in the "clueless" bin? How is winning this award better than that old bad advice to have someone you know make up an award and slap a gold star on your project so you can claim to have won an award?
Funny you should mention that aspect. My very first thought when viewing the sample copy of Writers Notes was of such people advising "create a Literary Journal to publish your own work", etc.

http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/005212.html

http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/005218.html
 
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I'd actually like to respectfully pose a question based on James D. MacDonald's post that "The worthwhile awards are, generally, for books that have already been published. You already know the names of the worthwhile awards, because you see them on the covers of the mass market editions. National Book Award. Pulitzer. Golden Duck. Caldecott. Newbery. Nebula. Edgar. Hugo. Rita."

My question for James D. MacDonald and others actually may be beyond the intent of this thread, but I hope I can sneak it in nonetheless without having the post redirected. The above is a pretty elite and uncontestable list (as I know book awards are meant to be), but isn't it fairly exclusive to New York authors? Have many independent press writers won those awards or would they stand a chance at serious consideration? Is the proportion really that great? I, frankly, believe many of the best writers come out of New York for a reason--like yourself, they're professionals at what they do and thus make it to a professional level. I guess I'm wondering whether or not the list of worthwhile awards might be extended in scope to include a tapestry of lesser, journeyman awards that might be used for career advancement, even if they're not instantly recognizable?

For example, while I'm not comparing my path or experience to his--believe me--I had a professor (William Henry Lewis) who won the 1993 Sonja H. Stone Award--a book / writing award. My guess is not many would recognize that award, certainly not nearly as much as they might recognize any listed above. This award did also include publication (Carolina Wren Press), which allowed him to then get published legitimately and well-reviewed. After that, he appeared in Ploughshares, then Best American Short Stories and presently is a New York author and recent Pen Faullker Award Finalist. In short, he may have won a relatively unknown award, but that and his natural ability (he's a far better writer than I could ever hope to be) launched a literary career. Aren't such awards also worthwhile, even if in a different capacity--not to just market a book, but to market the writer so that he can move up to the next rung on professional ladder, if you will?

Poets & Writers is full of such awards. In addition--at least for literary-oriented awards--to Pen Foundation and Hemingway Foundation awards,
there are university prizes and First Book Awards. Granted, most of these include publication by a reputable press--the key distinction--but aren't they then also worthwhile?

Now for another question I'm hoping posters here will speculate on, more relevant to my own experience. It strikes me that the Writers Notes discussion has incorporated the term "pay-to-play awards" in general. Frankly, I find it hard to believe that many (even legitimate) awards will allow you to enter for free anyway, though I understand your point that publishers typically assume the cost. I do admit, however, that these awards don't include reputable publication as a prize and are usually reservered for small press, POD, and self-published books. I guess I'm wondering posters' reactions to other so-called pay-to-play awards like Foreword, IPPY, and the Indie Excellence Awards. Granted, one award is not another--perhaps these should be the subjects of separate threads, but I'm hoping someone might comment on them. I understand the criteria most use deals with how well they market their authors and how well they're held in the general field of publishing. Any comments on whether they are? If an agent / publisher sees finalist or winner on these, will he or she say "A magazine award? Maybe this person can write--I like the idea for the query and I'll give him a chance and request the book" or "This person is just clueless--to the circular file with this query"?
 

victoriastrauss

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WritersNotesAdvocate said:
The above is a pretty elite and uncontestable list (as I know book awards are meant to be), but isn't it fairly exclusive to New York authors? Have many independent press writers won those awards or would they stand a chance at serious consideration?
I was a judge for the World Fantasy Awards this year (if you are not a fantasy reader, you might not have heard of these, but they're a Big Deal within the genre), and we received a large number of books from independent presses. We were determined at the outset to ignore things like who the publisher was, the author's gender, genre labels, etc., and we gave the books from the indies no less consideration than we gave the books from large NYC publishers. Several indie-pubbed books wound up on the final ballot, and one won (in the Collections category). I would guess that judges in other major awards feel the same. For instance, Kate di Camillo's The Tale of Despereaux, the winner of the Newbery Award a few years ago, came from an independent publisher.

Judges in the major awards are fairly dependent on what publishers actually send them, and if indie presses don't submit books, the judges won't see them. For World Fantasy, all publishers have to do is send the books--there's no fee--but I understand that some of the big awards involve quite a financial investment on the publishers' part, with entry fees and publicity commitments if their book wins. Some indie presses just don't feel they can afford it.
Aren't such awards also worthwhile, even if in a different capacity--not to just market a book, but to market the writer so that he can move up to the next rung on professional ladder, if you will?
If the award involves a publishing contract, and the publisher is reputable, it can certainly can be worthwhile--because you will be achieving your ultimate goal, which is publication. If such an award moves your writing career forward, it'll be because your book was published, reviewed, and read, rather than because you have an award to put on your resume.

There are some awards for unpubbed manuscripts that are well-known enough to impress an agent or editor. Most seem to be for literary novelists and poets; the only one I can think of for commercial/genre fiction is RWA's Golden Heart Award. But not many. Such awards are a potential waste of writers' time on two fronts: they are unlikely to do you a lot of professional good, and, if they become too much of a focus, can sidetrack you from what should be your main pursuit--submitting for publication.
I guess I'm wondering posters' reactions to other so-called pay-to-play awards like Foreword, IPPY, and the Indie Excellence Awards.
Who is judging these awards? A slate of industry professionals? Other self-pubbed authors? The staff of the magazine? The prestige of the judges, and the rigorousness of the judging process, plays a big part in the perception of an award. Also, if they focus on self- or POD-pubbed books, such awards have to deal with the self-pub/POD stigma--i.e., people tend to assume that most self-pubbed/POD books stink, so how good could the winners be? My impression is that the Foreword awards and the IPPYs are big deals in that community, but not outside.

- Victoria
 

JennaGlatzer

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Jonathan, you are a delight. Expressing a "dissenting view" respectfully and rationally, raising related discussion points, staying cool under pressure... if you were running the contest, I would enter. :D

Okay, seriously, my 2 cents:

There are many of these types of contests, which I'll define simply as book contests that people in the industry have not heard of, and that have not helped launch careers.

Jonathan, you-- and any other winner of similar contests-- have every right to feel proud of winning. Although I don't know who judged the contest, it's at least a nice thought to know that someone felt yours was the best read in the whole bunch. And I understand there's a serious lack of validation when you self/vanity-publish. Very hard to know if you've written something good, so I get the desire to seek out some kind of barometer for that.

Problem becomes how it gets used: if all you want out of it is for someone to say "this is a worthy book," you're better off using the $40 to send it people like PODdy Mouth (blogger who searches for Print-On-Demand gems; she reviewed a charity book we published here with Lulu and we definitely picked up some sales because of her review).

Better yet, you're better off getting your rights back and sending the manuscript off to editors at commercial publishing houses and seeing what kind of reaction you get. That's probably a more useful litmus test of how you stack up against other writers.

Anyway. The point is that there's an awful lot of money being spent on these sorts of contests, and in the end, I don't think they do much of anything for the writers who enter. I know from experience that editors just aren't impressed when you mention "This book won the Wooey Kazooie Book Award," and if you mention more than one contest they've never heard of, it probably works as a strike against you because it makes you look like small potatoes/amateurish. (Or like you're making stuff up.)

And if you put it on the cover of your book or on your website ("Winner of the Wooey Kazooie Book Award!"), it isn't going to convince booksellers to stock copies, and it isn't going to convince readers to buy it. So what other point is there?

I don't think the fact that you spent $40 on this contest is a horrible thing (well, especially because you did get some return on your money! But even if you didn't win...). I don't think Nomad thinks so, either. It's the overall trend that's bothersome. Your $40 combined with lots of other writers' $40 can bring a nice profit to the contest organizers, without much benefit to the winners.

One other question for you before I look into it: what are you defining as "independent" publishing versus "New York" publishing? When you say "independent," do you really mean POD? Vanity/self-publishing? Small commercial presses? Anything independent of the conglomerates? Anything outside NY?

I ask because these are very different animals. Nomad, for instance, is an "independent" publisher. They're a small press in Vermont not affiliated with any conglomerates. But they're not a POD or self-publishing venture, and their books appear on bookstore shelves nationwide. Is that the kind of press you're asking about when you wonder if they win any of the big awards?
 
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Thank you both...

Jonathan, you are a delight.

Thank you! I’m glad someone thinks so! Truly, I thank both Victoria Strauss and yourself for sharing your experience in the field and taking the time to answer my questions so thoroughly.

I was a judge for the World Fantasy Awards this year (if you are not a fantasy reader, you might not have heard of these, but they're a Big Deal within the genre), and we received a large number of books from independent presses. We were determined at the outset to ignore things like who the publisher was, the author's gender, genre labels, etc., and we gave the books from the indies no less consideration than we gave the books from large NYC publishers. Several indie-pubbed books wound up on the final ballot, and one won (in the Collections category).

This clearly refutes my statement about small press authors not getting equal awards consideration. Thank you for taking the time to address this so my comments on this matter won’t misinform others.

One other question for you before I look into it: what are you defining as "independent" publishing versus "New York" publishing? When you say "independent," do you really mean POD? Vanity/self-publishing? Small commercial presses? Anything independent of the conglomerates? Anything outside NY?

Truthfully, I’ve only been a POD author. I certainly don’t mean to present myself as more than that. I suppose I mean conglomerate publishing as “New York,” and quoted competition statements regarding whom they’re open to, which by consequence conflated “small press” or “independent,” with “POD,” “self-published,” and “vanity.”

I don’t mean to be parenthetical here, but I think I finally understand at least the basic distinction between the different publishing methods. Three years ago, I really was a POD enthusiast—when I read an article in a Sept / Oct 2003 issue of Poets & Writers mentioning this new, “legitimate” company, this PublishAmerica, submitted and was accepted, I was waving the flag, triumphant, about to be “published.” A Poets & Writers article mentioned them, after all—a sign of legitimacy, to me—snobbishly, I weighed that over Internet sites advising against the company. I truly believed that POD technology would become the equivalent of Mom and Pop publishing, allowing the beleaguered populace greater access to the printed word. Finally, writers would be freed from the “arbitrary” whims of editors! Publishing “democracy” could be had by all! How foolish I was—how willing to be fooled!

I’ve paid for it—but not as some might suspect. The consequences to myself as a writer I accept—to the degree that it was me who signed the contract, who took the chance. Sadly, though, students where I teach occasionally buy the book, heralding me as the “published” author. I try to explain, really I do—but pages between two covers make a more compelling argument. The Amazon ranking—setting new standards for how low those ranking can go—means nothing to them. It’s on Amazon—that’s all they need to know. I dread the day when a student comes up to me and tells me that he or she has become a “published” author through PublishAmerica too. That will be my true punishment.

On that cheery note, happy holidays to all!
 

kropedykrop

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Best New Writing

Does anyone have experience with the Eric Hoffer award and the Best New Writing anthology from Hopewell Publications?
 

kropedykrop

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Today I received a solicitation from the "US Review of Books." The email is as follows:

Hello: We want to read your book. The US Review of Books reviews all genres. No book denied. Visit www. theUSreview. com. Questions? Contact us at [email protected] theUSreview. com. Sincerely,The US Review of Books

Their URL: http://www.theusreview.com/home.html

The reason I am posting this here is that the members of this orrganization are supporters of the Eric Hoffer Award. That mission is clearly written on the website.

Whether they are another incarnation of Hopewell publications, or some other supporting avatar, it may be good to know their affiliations before submitting books for review. Besides, I suspect there may be some fees involves in the reviewing process...

-k
 

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From the Contact page:
The US Review of Books is owned and operated by Hopewell Publications, LLC.
 

Ruth Sims

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I just read the thread for information on the Eric Hoffer Award. I'm so disappointed. I thought it was on the level (I didn't see a $40 fee mentioned on their website, for one thing) but since the consensus seems to be that the award is either worthless or a scam or both, I'll regretfully have to send my short story elsewhere. And it's hard to find places to send a literary short story. Is there anyplace that lists the legit short story competitions?
 

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