The Return on one’s Labor

Recalling the passage from the earlier posting (re. “Wishes, and Sincere Thanks”) of 25 December 2015, your author had remarked on the pending curtailment of further book promotional engagements due to the constraints of a day job, and that the book would have to “stand on its own merits” for an indefinite period of time.  The exception to that withdrawal was the book’s entry in two popular competitions for independent publishing.

The choices that went into the year or more of living precariously, as detailed in the very first post (re. And Now…Here Comes the Hard Part”) from August of 2015 can now see a little payoff, in the form of two awards.  In April, 32 Answered was picked as a “Finalist” in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards (Category: “Military”) for 2016.  In May, actually just two days ago, 32 Answered received another recognition, again as a “Finalist”, in this case in the 2016 National Indie Excellence Awards (Category: “Military Non-Fiction”).  The term “Finalist” means it was one of a mere handful of co-competitors in the category that the judges felt stood out from the field of entries, but did not win since there can be only one winner per category.  Some of these contests compare “Finalist” to winning a silver medal; an author so awarded may be more inclined to think of it in terms of a nomination for the Oscars in a certain category.  Your author submitted the book in three categories for Next Gen, and in two categories for NIEA.  For reasons obvious to some, it placed only as a military-focus title in both competitions.

The return on the labor comes in the form of some increased publicity, the inclusion in distribution lists of new titles, and the authorization to apply a gold foil sticker, featuring a design unique to each of the two competitions, to the front cover of every book sold.  This latter benefit will, for now, apply only to books sold locally and regionally, including those in the book shops and Museum gift shops that have so far so graciously agreed to carry the title as an inventory item.  The stickers will also appear on books sold directly by the author at any future presentations or events.  This encompasses, really, any opportunity where the physical decal can be peeled and affixed to the front cover; regrettably, the prohibitive cost of redesigning the cover image precludes the digital inclusion of the award medallions at this time.

Each of the two competitions, as it turns out, had a distinct personality and flavor.  The Next Gen, considered the largest not-for-profit awards program for independent publishing, has been equated with what Sundance means to independent film.  A wide range of formats, including travel guides, books of photography, children’s books, and the many genres of fiction, all in addition to non-fiction, were submitted by small presses, university presses, medium size independents, and e-book publishers, as well as by members of the self-publishing community of authors.  Likewise, their “Military” category was quite an open field. Included in the running were, in addition to true non-fiction: inspirational, religious, first-person, and fiction genres.   The title that won the category, a true story written on a subject that has been covered by a handful of other authors both over the years and recently, had benefited from what appeared to be massive marketing and promotional juggernaut, along with some timely social justice themes, and so was already a New York Times best-seller.  The National Indie Excellence competition, on the other hand, though with at least as many categories and book formats, had dedicated a distinct Military category to true non-fiction, which made for a tough field of play and, in your author’s own opinion, a truer test. At least three co-Finalists (including the category winner) were like-minded works written by children of WW II veterans about their fathers’ combat experiences.   All were exemplary and original.  The winning title was originally published in 2014 and in the interim had already won awards in at least 15 other indie book competitions before taking this and one other category in the NIEA, and above all was a book whose author clearly had his act together as far as marketing and promotion.

Comparatively, as a new title, albeit one that remained somewhat under-promoted, and written by a first time author with little previous cred or name recognition, this is something of an achievement.  These two awards show that 32 Answered, as an original story based on exhaustive primary research, can indeed stand on its own merits, especially alongside WW II non-fiction of similar fare and written by fellow authors of equal or better ability.  Even more, it is a win for all of the families of the thirty-two “Red Arrow” officers from South Carolina who are the subjects of the book, as well as for the other individuals from around the country who contributed sometimes critical, game-changing elements of the overall story.

[JHC]

8 May 2016

 

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