While I was on vacation, two interesting things happened in the publishing world. A first mystery novel by a heretofore unknown male author got great reviews but poor sales. Then it was found to have been written by J. K. Rowling, and sales skyrocketed. Plenty of bloggers have discussed this, so I will refrain, except to say I believe Rowling wanted to have her work judged on its merits and not her name, and it’s sad she was “outed” so soon.
Speaking of “Names...”
The RWA Conference was held in Atlanta last week and the Rita and Golden Heart Winners were announced. The Ritas are for published books, so the judges know which companies published them and, as usual, only books published by the Big Five and Harlequin, won the eleven category awards. Altogether, there were 81 Finalists, yet, with the exception of five from Amazon’s Montlake Romance, no finalists were either self-published or from a small press.
IMHO, the outdated belief that, unless a book is published by the Big Five, it can’t possibly be any good so judges don’t vote for it, persists. I hoped the myth had died by now, but apparently not. I wonder if - had the same books been entered in manuscript - as in the Golden Heart, the results would have been different.
When self-published books are topping Best Seller lists time after time, how can this bias still exist? I find it hard to believe that of the many small press and self-published books entered in the contest, none were deemed good enough even to final. When will we see recognition for books published for their quality instead of a big New York corporation, which are actually mostly non-American?
They are British, German, French, Australian and Canadian. In addition to all the other categories in which Harlequin has finalists, the Short Contemporary Series category should be titled “The Harlequin Category,” because every finalist is one of their books. Every year. Here’s a radical idea: Since the name of our association is Romance Writers of America, how about allowing only books published by American publishers to compete?
Every year, when the winners are announced, I think, “Maybe next year,” but I don’t intend to enter again (I did in 2011) until things change.
DAPHNE DU MAURIER AWARDS
On the other hand, I’m happy to report that, over at the Daphne du Maurier Awards, not only were four self-published books among the Finalists, but three of them became the winners of three of the six categories. That’s half, more like reality.
Not that they didn’t have plenty of competition. Seven of the thirty-two finalists were Harlequin books, five were Penguin, three were Pocket titles, and six were from other Big publishers. However, in addition to the four self-published books, two were from Amazon’s Montlake and seven from small presses.
Readers, am I the only one who feels this way? Tell me, please.