Day 3 Top Ten Days of Mayra Calvani

A Closer Look at Literary Awards


There’s no doubt awards can do wonders for a writer’s self esteem. After all, an award is a validation of a writer’s hard work. But is it, in all cases, a validation of that particular work’s quality? Are all awards credible? Can a mediocre writer judge a book or have the ability to see another person’s mediocre work? When judges know in advance the author and publisher of a book, can they be one hundred per cent fair? Do they act with objectivity and professionalism and don’t allow their personal feelings to get involved even if they dislike or like the author? Does belonging to the organization that gives the award improves chances of winning? When I look at the statistics of winners from some of these organizations, I have to wonder.

Having read books which were ‘award’ winners, I really have to ask myself these questions. Sometimes the books have been great and justified the award. But in other instances the books have been poorly written. How did these books get picked up as winners? Is there a chance all works submitted were mediocre and the winner was simply the less mediocre among the rest? When I read ‘award-winning author’ these days, a little red flag goes up in my head. There are simply so many ‘award-winning’ authors out there, the term has certainly lost some of its strength.

Obviously, I’m not talking here about the National Book Award, Nobel and Pulitzer prizes, nor of the HUGO and Bram Stocker awards, but of those that are open to small POD presses like the EPPIE, Dream Realm Award, PRISM, IPPY, Foreword Book Award, among various others. The YPPY and Foreword awards seem to be the ones with more cachet.

As for sales, it seems awards sometimes help and sometimes don’t. I’ve heard of authors whose book sales increased, and from others who really didn’t see much difference. Having myself bought books based on an award, it’s fair to say that some readers may be impressed enough by it to make a purchase. Awards do help to put an author’s name out there among the readers and publishers and can be effective tools of book promotion when used in back cover blurbs, and other forms of advertising.

So what can organizations do about ensuring the credibility of their awards? For one thing, make sure that all writers judging the books are excellent writers–only these will be able to best discern the quality material from the mediocre. Every time a mediocre book is given an award, all those others good authors who have won the same award by writing quality books will suffer for it. It’s just like with POD presses. Those publishers who accept everything regardless of quality and disregard editing are the ones who give the rest of the POD presses a bad name, which is a real pity.

That said, I think an award is a good thing for authors. The advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. If you have the cash to spend (some contests have entry fees as high as $60-$70), it’s fun to participate and wait for the outcome. And if you win, it’ll do wonders to your ego, bring your name out there to the public and serve as a marvellous tool of promotion. It will also look damn nice on top of your mantelpiece, where you’ll be able to show it off to your obnoxious cousin Harold in one of those cozy family reunions.

For more information on these awards:

IPPY (Independent Publisher Book Award):

Foreword Book Award (awarded by Foreword Magazine):

PRISM (awarded by the Futuristic, Fantasy and Paranormal chapter of Romance Writers of America):

EPPIE (awarded by the EPIC, or the Electronically Published Internet Connection organization):

Dream Realm Award:


Mayra Calvani Contributing Writer

Multi-genre author, reviewer and animal advocate Mayra Calvani hails from San Juan, Puerto Rico. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, playing the violin, and watching too many reruns of Gilmore Girls and What I Like About You.

A regular contributor to Blogcritics Magazine and American Chronicle, she’s a member of SCBWI and Broad Universe. She keeps two blogs, Mayra’s Secret Bookcase and The Dark Phantom Review.

Additionally, she’s the co-author of the nonfiction work, The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing.

Visit her newest, fun blog, Pets and Their Authors, where her golden retriever interviews authors’ pets.

Mayra does Spanish translations of children’s picture books, is co-editor of Voice in the Dark newsletter, and the National Latino Books Examiner for

All 11 articles written by Mayra Calvani

Apr 2, 2009
New Children’s Book About Earthquakes: Review of Earthquake, by Susan J. Berger
Category: Children’s Non-Fiction
Susan J. Berger’s latest children’s picture book teaches kids everything about earthquakes, from understanding what causes them, to what to do when they happen. more…

Mar 19, 2009
Book Trailers as Tools of Book Promotion: Interview With Kim McDougall, Founder of Blazing Trailers
Category: Marketing/Selling Books
For authors and publishers, book trailers, or previews, are fun and effective tools of book promotion. more…

Mar 11, 2009
Illustrating for Children Isn’t Always Easy: Interview With Children’s Book Illustrator Kit Grady
Category: Picture Books
Children’s book illustrator Kit Grady talks about her work. more…

Mar 1, 2009
Children’s Author Makes Her Dreams Come True: Interview With Donna McDine
Category: Writing for Children (general)
Donna McDine stresses the importance of organization and to-do lists. more…

Feb 5, 2009
Children’s Book Teaches English and Chinese: Review of ‘The Frog in the Well’, Retold by Irene Y. Tsai
Category: Folktales
New bilingual children’s picture book teaches not only English and Chinese, but an important moral folktale as well. more…

Jan 16, 2009
New Bilingual Book for Children: Teach Your Children Spanish While They Learn About Zoo Animals
Category: Picture Books
Laughing Zebra Books opens its doors with a Spanish and English picture book that will teach children not only about language, but also about exotic animals. more…

Mar 27, 2009
Interview With Author Shari Lyle-Soffe: Animals and Nature Inspire Children’s Author
Category: Picture Books
Children’s author Shari Lyle-Soffe talks about her books, unleashing creativity, writer’s block, and the future of children’s picture books. more…

Mar 13, 2009
New Catholic Magazine for Children: Interview with Editor-in-Chief of My Light Magazine Jennifer Gladen
Category: Picture Books
Children’s author Jennifer Gladen starts her own Catholic magazine for children. more…

Mar 9, 2009
Celebrate Read an Ebook Week: Two Small Presses Give Away Free Ebooks
Category: Sci-Fi/Fantasy Fiction (general)
In celebration of Read an Ebook Week, Zumaya Publications and Twilight Times Books are giving away free ebooks. more…

Feb 10, 2009
Dogs Are Bloggers Too: Meet Max the Golden Retriever, a Blogger With an Attitude
Category: Dogs (general)
Who says bloggers have to be human? Nowadays fictional characters and even pets are conquering the world of the blogosphere. more…

Jan 28, 2009
Great Online Resource for Dog Owners: A Closer Look at, a Dog Blog
Category: Dogs (general) is a fairly new dog blog featuring tightly-focused, succinct articles on all aspects of dog care, behavior and training. more…

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