Book Awards – Do they help to sell books?

Award season  is upon  us which must mean that it’s time for active campaigning and “vote for me” signs everywhere in bookland. Does this work in terms of getting books to be noticed and/or nominatedbook award cartoon? Sometimes it’s really humbling to see the depths to which some authors (who I respect most of the time) will sink  to get their books noticed.

The recent unpleasantness  between straight and lgbt authors when the Lambda Literary Foundation decided to restrict most of its awards to books written by lgbt writers (which they were perfectly entitled to do), made me think about the purpose of any award, including book awards. Are book awards a way of rewarding the writers for a job well done? Or are there other, less noble  reasons? Is there a special cachet attached to saying “Winner of ….”? Many authors who have been nominated or who have finaled say proudly on their websites – as they are perfectly entitled to do  – “Finalist …. in such and such award”. But what does it mean to the book buyer? Do we really care? I have been disappointed many times in films that won Academy Awards, the top award in the film industry. Ditto for books that have won Pulitzers. I wonder sometimes what the people who are responsible for selecting the winners were smoking. 😀

 What criteria is used to select the nominated books? Does EPIC use a different criteria than, say, Lambda did in previous years before they changed the eligibility criteria?  Many books that win awards in one competition aren’t even nominated in another, so which award is the most prestigious? In terms of longevity the Pulitzer which has been around since 1917 in areas such as journalism, literary, music and drama is the top  of the heap.  The Stonewall Book Awards has been around the longest in the lgbt area  (since 1971) but the Lambda Literary Awards (established in 1988) seem to have the most prestige in terms of awards for lgbt writing. There are many other awards  for special categories of books e.g. EPIC for electronic books which is a boon for the epublishing industry. I’m not counting RWA which does not recognize lgbt books since typically they have only one or two award categories for all the lgbt  books nominated in any one year, among the huge number of other “romance” categories. 

Do these awards result in increased sales? Many books that never won major book awards outsell award winners by a large margin due mainly to word of mouth or great reviews, while the award winners languish in the “also ran” category. Why is that? Are these awards just an opportunity for writers tobook award cartoon 2 pat themselves on the back? Are the winning books just a whitewash because some of the judges like the author(s)? Just asking! Obviously not every writer can win a Pulitzer since it’s only open to American writers but what if you were nominated for such a prestigious award? How cool is that! But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. 😀

It seems that every year someone has a bright idea to establish a new award, but the criteria for selection of the nominees and/or winners seems to differ greatly from those of other established award competitions. In other words, if you can’t even buy a nomination in those other awards, just set up your own? Does winning  an award in such competitions confer any prestige on the winners? I’m thinking I’m way behind the eight ball and just you wait till next year for Wave’s Hot Guys awards. 😀

Authors, if you have won an award for any of your books, did you notice any increase in sales? If so, was it just a momentary blip or did the sales trend upward for some time? Readers do you really care if the gay romance book that you just bought is an award winner, or are you just looking for a good book to read?

Have your say but be nice because I’m still smarting from the abuse heaped on me in the last debate. 😀


  • I don’t think I’ve ever bought a book based on an award. In fact, I’m less likely to buy a book with “Award Winning” plastered somewhere on the cover. If anything, awards are a great deterrent for me.
    It doesn’t just go for books, either. I’m pretty much guaranteed to avoid any movie that wins an Oscar.

    • JenB
      You’re like many other readers who seem to resist the word “award winning” when it comes to book purchases. 😀


      Maybe rather than spend so much time campaigning, authors might want to prioritize and use that time writing since their fans don’t care about their awards.


Please comment! We'd love to hear from you.


I live in Canada and I love big dogs, music, movies, reading and sports - especially baseball
%d bloggers like this: