The Book Awards The Big Guys Don’t Want You To Know About

We all know about book prizes. We know how important they are, and yet how unquantifiable.

There are basically two kinds of book prizes: those which are decided by a panel of estimable judges, and those which are decided by public vote. Both are problematic.

So What’s Wrong, Ya Big Whinger?

When it comes to panel-decided prizes, the route to the judge’s eye is too often fraught with unassailable obstacles such as elitism, fashion, favouritism, or the lack of a marketing machine.

The Book Awards The Big Guys Don't Want You To Know About

Which might make it look like we should go with a popular vote instead – if it weren’t for the fact that a public vote is more to do with the popularity (or social media reach) of the author, rather than the merit of their book.

In fact, popular votes are more liable to drive me mad than any other modern inconvenience. I’ve been forced to ask for them myself from time to time, and I hate them. The fact that people are voting on something where they may have read only one – or more often none – of the entries, is the most cynical exercise even I can think of.

Yeah, Whatever. So What?

Both of these types of awards are open to criticism: and yet, there are no real alternatives. Either a judge must judge, or a vote must be counted. At the end of the day, when it comes to literary prizes, no author can afford not to be included, and few if any authors can refuse to let their work go forward. Because awards mean sales. Even nominations mean sales. And of the two types of recognition for their art, most authors would rather the sales, given the miserable state of author earnings at present.

The Book Awards The Big Guys Don't Want You To Know About

I tried hard to think of an alternative to the estimable judge or the popular vote models, and I’m not going to lie. I couldn’t think of one. But this failure led to me thinking two things. And because this is my blog, I am going to tell you these two things.

(i) The problem might be in the very structure of these awards themselves.

The categorisation of awards can end up becoming the decider. Books which cross genres are often ruled out, or books which are self-published. Territorial publishing limitations can hinder the most talented, and an inability to lobby the right people can bury the shyest of geniuses.

It seems clear to me that we need to write some new book awards from the bottom up.

With that in mind, welcome, ladies and gentlesirs, to the…. *drum roll*


There are no nominees in these book awards: only winners. As I am not sure that the global reach of this blog is great enough as yet to, eh, influence sales, I really couldn’t be bothered making shortlists.

I hereby announce the awards as follows (all winners receive a year’s free subscription to the ads I have nothing to do with on this blog)

1. Best Book Sales Despite The Huge Misgivings Of Most Buyers:

Harper Lee – Go Set A Watchman

2. Most Profitable Resurrection of a Dead Author:

David Lagerkrantz (after Stieg Larsson, dec’d)- The Girl In The Spider’s Web

3. Most Blatant Exploitation of The Book-Buying Public:

E.L. James – Grey

4. Best Hopping On The Bandwagon:

Every Adult Colouring Book published after January 2015

5. Best Book Cover Even If Content Didn’t Live Up To Packaging Brilliance:

Timur Vermes – Look Who’s Back

The Book Awards The Big Guys Don't Want You To Know About

6. Best Book Sales Despite Lazy Covers Which Didn’t Even Try:

Anything by Lee Child, John Grisham, Clive Cussler… basically any book written by a famous American male author, really

7. Book Club Darling Most Likely To Cause Smugness When The Movie Comes Out:

Paula Hawkins – The Girl On The Train


Which brings me to my second thought.

(ii) There Is A Gap To Be Filled By A New Awards Platform.

Over the past few years, indie publishing awards have been growing abroad. Indie authors generally can’t compete with traditionally published authors: quite apart from the marketing might, they don’t have the money, influence or resources to submit to the established literary competitions.

Indie book prizes bridged some of that gap, although there were none in Ireland. But why shouldn’t the cream of the Irish self-published crop be recognised too?

Well, now it can. Because as of right now, in 2016, the Carousel Aware Prize for Independent Authors is entering the stage.

The Book Awards The Big Guys Don't Want You To Know About

Carousel Writers’ Centre has teamed up with Aware, a charity which assists those directly affected by the illness of depression, to establish this new prize.

There are six categories, which you’ll be glad to know are a little more traditional than the ones I listed above, and the submission deadline is Monday, April 29th 2016. Further details can be found on

This is an excellent opportunity for Irish indie authors to have their work recognised and promoted on a wider stage. The prize has been established with a view to recognising books which are too often ignored by the mainstream media, and all monies raised through submission fees will go directly to the charity Aware. It’s a double-whammy of positive positivity.

If you have self-published and fulfil the entry criteria, what have nothing to lose by entering this prize. It could mean more exposure than all the Bookbub ads in China. (Or perhaps another, more apt, analogy.) Why not get your hard work and talent recognised? Why not give it a try?

So there you have it. I might have taken a round-trip to get to the actual point, but I do try to trade information with entertainment, and you don’t read this blog for snappy summations (or if you do – do I have to apologise every week?!)

  56 comments for “The Book Awards The Big Guys Don’t Want You To Know About

  1. carousel1234
    January 14, 2016 at 8:42 am

    “It’s a double-whammy of positive positivity!”
    You’re some woman for the auld words. Love it!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. January 14, 2016 at 9:58 am

    Irish authors only? If I change my name to Christie O’Harrison will I be eligible?

    Reading the first part of the article and the shortcomings of the judge versus public voting system, I was reminded of the infallible system used at the Eurovison Song Contest. Voting made up of judging panel (experts obviously) and televoting by the public. To say this system works is demonstrated by the quality of winning songs since it was introduced.* It could work for literature.

    But who selects the judges? Who would judge the expertise of the judges? There will probably come a time when we organise our own awards, but I’ve won my own Alien Noise Prize every year since it’s inception and it starts to get a bit predictable.

    *My friend is nuts about Slipknot, but last year even she couldn’t get the Swedish winning song out of her head.

    Liked by 2 people

    • January 14, 2016 at 10:18 am

      You don’t have to be Irish, Chris, just resident here. You could always move. Who knows what it might do for your writing. You could find yourself wildly inspired by the dour sense of fatalism and permanent knocks on the head which would make even gothic horror look like a fairytale. Either that, or you enter the Eurovision.

      I know what you mean by judge selection, but the least I can say for that is that judges at least are compelled to read all the finalists in a competition. Whether they do or not is anyone’s guess. It’s like a high-stakes book club really. You might rely on cheat notes but as long as you’re wearing the right scarf and your hors d’oeuvres don’t smell, you’re all right.

      Liked by 2 people

      • January 14, 2016 at 11:01 am

        I’ll look into a PO Box address and get my mail redirected. Eurovision comes with fatalism (why does no one vote for the UK anymore) and metaphorical knocks on the head courtesy of Graham ‘Hideous Dress’ Norton. (said in response to the Maltese judge overlooking the UK’s entry in 2010, I think…) Could be the killing of two birds with one stone there.

        I suppose the only real essential for a literary awards judge is the ability to read, if only to understand the list telling them who the finalists are.

        Liked by 2 people

        • January 14, 2016 at 11:08 am

          I’m not sure you can be ordinarily resident in a PO Box, Chris, but it’s worth a try, if at least to test the sizeist prejudices of the judges. I agree with your judicial requirements. In fact, an ability to read might end up being a real bar-raiser.

          Liked by 2 people

          • January 14, 2016 at 11:18 am

            I thought I might actually live inside the PO Box.

            Liked by 3 people

            • January 14, 2016 at 11:29 am

              That’s what I thought you meant. It would be a victory for amplitude-challenged folk everywhere.

              Liked by 3 people

              • carousel1234
                January 14, 2016 at 1:23 pm

                You two just crack me up! What about putting your conversations into a self published book and entering? A dead cert winner.

                Liked by 2 people

                • January 14, 2016 at 2:37 pm

                  Hmmm. What you think, Chris? I’m not entirely sure I’m ready for the obscene wealth and adulation certain to come our way, but if you really want to, I’ll give in just this once.

                  Liked by 2 people

    • January 14, 2016 at 12:53 pm

      Some great food for thought in this post Tara, but I also love the digressions towards Eurovision and the image of a Slipknot fan earwormed by a Eurovision winner has me wondering if an El James reader would ever be found muttering a famous opening line like:” It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good……..”

      Liked by 2 people

      • carousel1234
        January 14, 2016 at 1:25 pm

        It is a truth universally Facebooked that a single man and a married woman in possession of a good… pair of handcuffs…

        Liked by 2 people

        • January 14, 2016 at 2:40 pm

          Carolann Copland. I’m shocked. Actually, no I’m not. G’wan ya good thing!

          Liked by 1 person

      • January 14, 2016 at 2:39 pm

        That sounds like a competition I can’t resist, Anne. Finish this sentence: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good……..”

        Tractor? Angle-grinder? Or if we’re talking EL James… Appendage?

        Liked by 2 people

        • January 14, 2016 at 7:56 pm

          No, dont go there, we will leave it at “Show, dont tell” but I just thought this minute of another one – Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came…..
          But seriously I think the Carousel Aware Prize will show up all the marketing moguls and great writers will emerge blinking into the sunlight from it. Maybe there will be a category for the best opening line !!

          Liked by 2 people

          • January 14, 2016 at 9:59 pm

            My my, how naughty! Certainly better for the deviant minds out there – not me, obviously, I’m as innocent as a boiled potato – to leave it to the imagination.
            The whole CAP movement is very exciting. It’s high time!

            Liked by 1 person

  3. January 14, 2016 at 3:08 pm

    Great summary of the problems with book awards, Tara. I haven’t asked for votes on anything. I just haven’t been able to do it yet. Perhaps someday I’ll have to suck it up and go that route. The great thing about judged Indie awards is that the massive marketing and influence of the major publishers is removed from the equation. The playing field is leveled, or at least, leveler. Hopefully, we’ll see more of these awards coming in the future. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • January 14, 2016 at 4:02 pm

      I agree that judged awards are more equitable. And although it can be incredibly difficult to get past the initial stages of the biggest awards, the success of small independent publishers in the UK and Ireland in recent years in these competitions has been downright brilliant. But no matter which way you look at it, the self-published have been left out in the cold…

      Liked by 2 people

  4. January 14, 2016 at 6:44 pm

    So true, is very sad to see good books get knocked out by the author who has the loudest voice or most followers. This year, for the first time, I voted for a book I hadn’t read. I was tired and a constant ‘sorry to bother you but have you voted yet?’ Post finally broke me down. The guilt damn near killed me, so it did, to be sure, to be sure;););) By the way, a new one for me anyhoo, 20% of the books in a goodreads award for a Christmas books this year weren’t released yet! This meant they were only on Netgalley, and they had only been on a few days when the voting closed and yet had amassed a huge following. Tut tut, eh?

    Liked by 2 people

    • January 14, 2016 at 9:52 pm

      Yeah. This drives me nuts. It’s fecking rancid. There was another author whose book launch was on a Thursday night and by the following day they had over 300 reviews on Amazon. When you see other authors sweating buckets just to get 2 honest reviews it’d make a Downton Abbey debutante cynical. But as for more ethical matters, I do hope It Started With A Snub is going to be making its way into the CAP Indie awards, hmmm?

      Liked by 2 people

      • January 15, 2016 at 2:46 pm

        Ve vill see- a chick lit book going for a best fiction award just seems to be pushing it, just a little;) (um, no offence to chick lit, lol!)

        Liked by 2 people

        • January 15, 2016 at 2:55 pm

          Ah, but this is about the best novel, which means each to their own genre. We’re conditioned to believe that some genres are lesser than others: but the best chick-lit is just as much of a ‘best’ as any other genre. Besides, making the longlist or shortlist is a badge of honour too… Just sayin’!

          Liked by 2 people

          • January 15, 2016 at 10:03 pm

            Hmmmmmm (am busy doing my evil hand rubbing together thing- though also am cold), I might give it a go. Full stop. Eek! (Bet that’s the first ‘eek’ you’ve ever had on your blog!) Oh and now I’m doing the chick lit exclamation mark thing too due to nervous energy!!!;) Thanks Tara:)

            Liked by 2 people

        • carousel1234
          January 15, 2016 at 8:54 pm

          Listen to Tara. She knows things that one. Go enter!

          Liked by 2 people

  5. January 14, 2016 at 10:02 pm

    My grandmother was supposed to have Irish blood, she was a friend of Yeats’s brother Jack and my daughter will be marrying an Irishman sometime next year and my last book is an upbeat book about suicide… do I qualify?

    Liked by 2 people

  6. January 15, 2016 at 11:18 am

    As someone who has just been shortlisted for an Indie award and is hysterical with joy I like this blog very much!

    Liked by 2 people

    • January 15, 2016 at 12:13 pm

      Congratulations Vicky! Mighty news! Best of luck in the shortlist. Joy hysterics are my favourite kind.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. January 15, 2016 at 1:48 pm

    I must write that novel I have been thinking about. It’s an award winner, for sure. But, then again, we both know about awards…..

    Liked by 2 people

    • January 15, 2016 at 2:42 pm

      You must surely write it, Conor. If only to enter a proper competition what haz nothing to do with likes, like. Anyways, gotta run! Shopping!

      Liked by 2 people

  8. January 16, 2016 at 1:56 pm

    Reblogged this on graemecummingdotnet and commented:
    Unfortunately, in spite of twisting my brain in al kinds of knots, I couldn’t find a loophole – so I can’t enter this. But there may be some of you who can. Great idea, well worth looking at – with some interesting observations from Tara along the way. Still got to make my mind up whether she needs to apologise each week or not….

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Ali Isaac
    January 17, 2016 at 11:05 am

    Very clever, how you turned this announcement into a funny blog post… you really should think about writing a book, has anyone ever told you that? Then you could enter it! I hope this competition does well and becomes as popular as the Irish Blog Awards, it’s a great idea.

    Liked by 2 people

    • January 17, 2016 at 1:38 pm

      Thank, Ali! I might try and knock out a couple of novels this afternoon. Can’t be that hard, right?! This award has been a long time coming. I hope you’re thinking of entering yourself…

      Liked by 2 people

      • Ali Isaac
        January 17, 2016 at 2:01 pm

        Lol! Not at all! As easy as (eating) pie! Go for it. I may do my bit to support the cause and enter too…

        Liked by 2 people

  10. January 17, 2016 at 11:55 am

    Reblogged this on Have We Had Help? and commented:
    Just read this. It made this crusty old writer think. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Ali Isaac
    January 17, 2016 at 12:08 pm

    Reblogged this on aliisaacstoryteller and commented:
    Indie Authors living in Ireland, here’s your chance to win acclaim for your self published book and support a worthwhile cause, well, two worthwhile causes, actually. So get behind this splendiferous event, and who knows where it could lead? And may the luck o’ the Oirish be with yez… 🍀

    Liked by 2 people

    • January 17, 2016 at 1:39 pm

      Thanks too for the re-blog, Ali!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Ali Isaac
        January 17, 2016 at 2:02 pm

        Got to be done, Tara. .. these opportunities are too few and far between, gotta get the word out!

        Liked by 2 people

  12. January 18, 2016 at 7:45 pm

    Sadly not Irish or living in Ireland but great post anyway. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. January 20, 2016 at 1:14 am

    Ah, I was all ready with my pithy response to overhyped books and all that…but, hey, this competition sounds worthy. Looking into it…

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 20, 2016 at 10:50 am

      You should never dismiss an opportunity for pith, Jackie! That said, it is indeed a worthy comp, isn’t it?


  14. May 12, 2016 at 9:20 pm

    Reblogged this on dublinhousewife and commented:
    Are you an independently published author? Brilliant. Now look no further because this is the award for you. Don’t delay, submit today, or even in the next couple of weeks, because the deadline has been extended until the 31st May. What are you waiting for? Go now….and hey you published poets hiding over there in the corner, I’m talking to you too…move it, quickly before it’s too late. 😉


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