The Mystery/Suspense chapter of RWA, lovingly known as “Kiss of Death” or KOD, has announced the finalists in its annual Daphne du Maurier Contest for published books that fit the genre. However, I won’t list them here. Even non-members of the chapter can find them with a Google search.
Daphne du Maurier Awards are actually two contests: one for Unpublished writers. And that means anywhere, not just unpublished in the mystery/suspense genre. I know because being published in Romance excludes me from entering. The other is for books that were published the preceding year.
The latter contest is the one for which finalists were announced last week, and I was very pleased with the results of this first round of judging. Why? Because, of the 31 finalists, four were self-published books. One was in Category/Series, which was otherwise a sweep for Harlequin. Another was a Mainstream Mystery, and two were Paranormal books.
The other publishers represented, besides Harlequin, whose Mira and HQN lines were also finalists, were Penguin, Pocket Books, St. Martin’s Press, Bethany, B&H, and Hachette Australia. I also recognized Henery, a fairy new small press and Montlake Romance, Amazon’s Romance imprint, but never heard of Reina. Is it possible that was actually self-published, too?
For the Daphne contest, unpublished books are submitted via manuscripts, so the finalists are chosen on their merits, but Published books reveal who published them. This has led to some judges choosing a “name” publisher under the assumption that a self-published book couldn’t possibly be any good. For the first time in the past seven years, it seems that judges no longer have that bias. And why should they when self-published books have been voted at the top of sites like “Best Books of 2012" and have recently made up 25 percent of best-seller lists?
I’m not a critic of either traditionally published or self-published books. Each has its place, and authors should choose whatever works best for them. I’m what is now known as a “hybrid” author. I’ve sold books to Kensington, Barbour, Avalon and some small publishers, and now my backlist is available on Amazon. I paid my dues for many years, trying to get an agent or a Big 5 publisher to take my work, but money was never my goal. I just wanted people to read my books, so I appreciate the choices I have today. In fact, I’m thrilled.