Monday, December 08, 2014

Reputable Not-To-Be-Missed Contest News


I am proud to be a sponsor of the brand new, first ever North Street Book Prize and thought you’d want to put it on your list of contests that can make a difference for your writing career—win or lose. Lose? You still get an e-book and support for publishing. Win? You get a prize that is sure to be prestigious because of the heart and name behind it—Winning Writers. So, it's time to get do your final revision and your final edit using The Frugal Editor. Here is some guidance and information who are sharing their love of a good story by offering this opportunity to you:

 

Advice from the Judges of the North Street Book Prize

 

by Jendi Reiter and Ellen LaFleche

We started this contest for the same reason that you wrote your book: We love a good story. We believe that narrative writing, whether fiction or memoir, has a unique ability to awaken empathy and illuminate complex truths of human nature.

Rapid changes in technology and the book industry are blurring the lines between self-publishing, print-on-demand, and traditional publishing. More and more, experienced authors are choosing nontraditional routes to find readers. However, most prizes for published books still exclude the self-published, sticking them with an outdated stigma of amateurism. Through the North Street Book Prize, we hope to boost the visibility of excellent writers whose books simply didn't fit into the big conglomerates' marketing plans.

We're holding [all submissions] to the same standard as the best titles from conventional publishers: polished writing, believability, dramatic tension, a story structure that foregrounds the major plot elements, and characters worth following. "Originality" is, shall we say, not such an original thing to ask for. In any case, like happiness, it's not something you can aim at directly. That freshness we seek in a story is better described as urgency: a book that convinces us that it had to be written.

We're committed to running the most transparent and ethical contest possible. Some services marketed to self-published authors are overpriced and make inflated claims. We've carefully vetted our business partners to offer our winners a high-quality marketing support package, in addition to our sizeable cash prizes. All entrants receive a free ebook download from book publicity expert Carolyn Howard-Johnson. Unlike some contests that use anonymous "judging panels", the Winning Writers judges' names and credentials are up-front so you can make an informed decision about submitting your work.

Some notes on genre and the judges' tastes:

We decided to judge "commercial" and "literary" fiction separately because, by and large, these categories assign different weight to artistic considerations versus entertainment, and are working within different traditions. What is innovative in a romance novel, for instance, is measured by reference to other romances, not Finnegan's Wake.

However, we feel that the standard list of genres considered "commercial" (mystery, horror, science fiction, romance, Western) unfairly privileges the bourgeois realist novel. Is Lonesome Dove not literature because it's about cowboys? Is Romeo and Juliet just a YA teen romance? No subject matter is inherently more literary than another.

In our view, commercial fiction is characterized by an emphasis on plot and action, a greater reliance on stock characters and clearly delineated heroes/villains, an intention to follow familiar conventions (e.g. a mystery novel ends with solving the crime), and a workmanlike writing style that prioritizes accessibility over lyricism. Young Adult books may be entered in either category. Depending on the mix of entries received, the judges reserve the right to re-categorize books that seem to straddle the commercial-literary divide.

For all kinds of fiction, our judges appreciate storytelling that shows critical awareness of our current cultural prejudices. The characters may have as many flaws and blind spots as you like, but the author should demonstrate a broader understanding. For example, the 1960s businessmen in the popular TV series "Mad Men" are gleefully, obliviously sexist, but the scriptwriters expect their contemporary audience to be shocked by the difference in pre-feminist corporate culture. The male characters objectify women, but the writers re-center the female characters as subjects deserving empathy and dignity.

We would rather not read lengthy graphic descriptions of violence. (Even in the horror genre, remember Stephen King's dictum that terror-inducing writing is a higher art form than "going for the gross-out".) While we do appreciate good writing about sexuality, please remember that sexual scenes or musings—like all other scenes and musings—should enhance and be integral to the narrative. If your book includes sexual violence or nonconsensual sex, please be aware that we strongly disfavor victim-blaming and "rape culture" myths. A good list of the latter can be found at the feminist blog Shakesville.

In creative nonfiction, we seek true-life writing with a personal angle—a memoir or a collection of personal essays. We prefer nonfiction that connects the individual's story to an issue of wider cultural relevance, or gives us an inside look at an interesting subculture or historical moment. That said, remember that the heart of your narrative is the people, not the data.

See the judges' list of favorite books in your genre for examples at The North Street Book Prize for Self-Published Books. We look forward to discovering our next favorite—yours!


North Street Book Prize competitions opens January 15:
The North Street Book Prize for Self-Published Books
It's easier than ever to self-publish your book, but how can you stand out? Which services are worthwhile? Who can you trust? Winning Writers has developed the North Street Book Prize to help. Three winners will each receive $1,500, a credit towards the high-quality publishing services at 
BookBaby, free advertising in our newsletter, and expert marketing advice from Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of The Frugal Book Promoter. We'll award cash prizes of $6,000 in all, with gifts for everyone who enters. Learn more at www.winningwriters.com/north


----- Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including the award-winning second edition of, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher; The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor .

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