In VOX LIT February 2018 :
IN THE FREE VOXLIT ON-LINE THIS MONTH:
We’ve got details of the Costa book award winners, but we’ve no idea yet who will win all those other famous book awards in 2018. In this issue we can least tell you what the awards are and when their glittering prizes will be handed out, so you can note the dates for your diaries. We also have news of a fascinating survey into how readers choose their books. And, following on from the sell-out launch of Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury, we have some tongue-in-cheek suggestions for aspiring best-selling authors.
Our features include a protest poem by Zaheera Shaik Alli and an excerpt from ‘The Redemption of Anna Petrovna’, itself a criticism of homophobia.
Ted and James manage to review half a dozen books this time, fiction and non-fiction, by well-known and less well-known authors. Something for everyone?
In Writer’s Notes, we look at one aspect of descriptive writing – how to provide a unique view of a setting.
Read and enjoy! Thank you!
How to write a bestseller –advice to impecunious writers
The infallible secret of how to write a bestselling book has just been revealed. Previous attempts to codify a winning formula from past successes have failed miserably. J.K. Rowling seemed to have found the answer, repeating her multi-million success seven times, but attempts by others to copy her triumphs ended in abject failure. But the latest craze in the bookshops points the way to a more reproducible method.
First of all, use alliteration in the title. ‘F’ has now been taken, but you could try C (as in ‘Conflagration and Conflict’) or maybe ‘B’ (for example, ‘Burning and Bullying’).
Titles are fine, but the content is what really matters. The book has to be the unofficial inside story on some very famous individual. Don’t pick a popular person though. Upsetting besotted fans isn’t going to do much for book sales. And never forget that ‘Good news is no news’ – so don’t dwell on your hero’s (or heroine’s) better qualities.
Truth isn’t important either. You do want to avoid outright lies, unless you are absolutely sure they cannot be disproved. While an unsuccessful lawsuit works wonders at the checkout, a successful one will kill your book and put you in a debtor’s prison. Best is a kind of half-truth, an embellishment of something that is actually known and provable. For example, suppose your intended victim claims that the most wicked thing she had done in her youth was to run through cornfields. You can add an edge to this just by adding the word ‘naked’ at an appropriate place in the sentence. Inspired imagination is everything.
So there you go. That’s how to do it. Just choose from the many unloved celebrities available in today’s troubled world and get writing. May Good Luck and Prosperity come your way!
contributed by James Gault Jan 2018
How readers make their choices.
The website ‘The Ramble’ has just published an illuminating survey of the purchasing habits of 355 enthusiastic book buyers, and it makes interesting reading for publishers, authors and the general reading public. It shows that bookaholics are very loyal to their best-loved authors, and to discover new ones they rely on their friends for recommendations. These two methods of choosing a book dominate. There are a variety of other less important triggers that apply: recommendation’s on blogs and the press, price (free is best) and great cover art. The survey also provides writers and publishers with a lot of information on how readers make that critical buy/don’t buy decision once they have a potential purchase in their hands (or on-screen).
We at VoxLit would like to congratulate travel writer Gigi Griffis for this inspired and useful work. You can read the full survey results at http://gigigriffis.com/how-readers-buy-books-355-person-survey/.
Her series of unconventional travel guides can be seen at http://gigigriffis.com/book/
Are you attracted to award winning books? With hundreds of thousands of new books for readers to choose from each year, you need some help to choose the ones you are most likely to like best. One way to help you find that perfect read might be to look for prize-winning books by prize-winning authors. To help you, we’ve gathered together some information on literary awards, what and who they are for and when they announce their winners.
THE NOBEL PRIZE FOR LITERATURE
This is an international award for a lifetime contribution to literature and is undoubtedly the most prestigious award an author can obtain. It doesn’t specify any individual book, but any avid book fan will add at least one of the winner’s books to the ‘must read’ list. Nobel Laureates are announced in October.
THE BRITISH BOOK AWARDS.
These events are also known as the ‘NIBBIES’ and are run by the BOOKSELLER trade magazine and offer prizes not only for books but for those involved in the book publishing trade. There are 7 categories for books: Children's, Debut, Fiction, Fiction - Crime & Thriller, Non-Fiction – Lifestyle, Non-Fiction – Narrative, and a new category for this year, AudioBook. They are also introducing awards for best author and for best illustrator. Entry is restricted to major publishing houses. This year’s awards will be announced on the 18th of May 20018.
THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE FOR FICTION
This is certainly one of the most prestigious literary awards although we might also say it is one of the most exclusive. Only publishers whose works have been previously long-listed may submit books, and the number they can submit depends on previous successes. So it’s pretty much a closed shop to new and independent publishers. There is a Man Booker Prize for works written originally in English and a Man Booker International Prize for translated works. There is a long list whittled down to a short list by the judges and the final winners will be announced on 16th October 2018
THE PULITZER PRIZE (LITERATURE)
By contrast to the publisher-led MAN BOOKER price in the UK, the American PULITZER PRIZE is more democratic. As well as publishers, authors (including self-published authors) or even members of the public may submit works for the competition, as long as they pay the $50 entry fee. E-books are not allowed and the book has to have been printed and published in the USA. There are five categories, Fiction, History, Biography, Poetry and General. In most cases, the authors have to be American and the works have an American theme. Winners are announced in the Spring and the 2018 winners are due to be announced on April 16th.
THE COSTA BOOK AWARDS
This is another UK competition open only to books first published in the UK submitted by publishers. A panel of three judges choose a short list of four books in each of the five categories: First Novel, Novel, Biography, Poetry and Children’s Book. They then select the winner in each category from the short lists. The winners are announced in January so the latest successes are now known. They are:
First Novel: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman; HarperCollins
Novel: Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregorv; 4th Estate
Biography: In the Days of Rain by Rebecca Stott; 4th Estate
Poetry: Inside the Wave by Helen Dunmore; Bloodaxe Books
Children’s: The Explorer by Katherine Rundell; Bloomsbury Children’s Books
THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARDS
The NBA is a competition for US authors run by the National Book Foundation. Books can only be submitted by publishers, so independent authors are excluded. The categories are Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Young People's Literature. Like many such awards, the judges produce a long list and a short list before choosing the winners in each category. Winners are announced in November.
THE WOMEN’S PRIZE FOR FICTION
This is a UK award for the best novel written in English by a woman author of any nationality run by the Society of Authors. Only publishers can submit entries, although, like in some other competitions, the judges can ask for a novel to be considered. The judges choose long lists and short lists, ensuring maximum exposure for the top entries. The winner will be announced on 6th June.
WHAT ABOUT SMALL PUBLISHER OR INDEPENDENT AUTHORS?
In general book awards are a standard marketing tool of the publishing world and serve to promote the good and great of the writing and publishing world. But in Vox Lit, we want to also introduce you to the growing trends in the book world, where independent publishers and authors are breaking new ground and challenging the safe and populist policies of the big publishers. As a reader you may want to access this exciting movement and enjoy different approaches to writing and publishing. But if you are still attracted by the idea of prize winning authors,there are also awards and competition where independent writing is recognised. Next month we’ll review some of these.
Throughout the year, we’ll be keeping an eye on all of these ‘glittering prizes’, bringing you news on the successes, both big and small.
contributed by James Gault Jan 2018