Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Do we need more awards...?

Still have dribbly horrible cold, brain still MIA, children still off school on holiday. I have sent my inner writer away to sulk in a closet somewhere. Justine Larbalestier asked if book awards influence people's reading. I wondered this too after a friend said yesterday that there should be more awards for children's writers in New Zealand. I think there should be more attention paid to children's writers in New Zealand but I don't know if there should be more awards. Commenters told Justine that yes they were influenced by short lists and winners and others told her that no they weren't. One commenter said, some brilliant books don't win anything and some rubbish does. As with any judgement of a book, it comes down to opinion.

In New Zealand the awards we do have for children's literature don't make a huge media splash. The books shortlisted may enjoy greater sales but sadly I don't think these are always vast quantities. I worry that adding more awards would only dilute the effect of each individual award. The current awards don't garner enough attention. Maybe in the short term we should be working to increase the public awareness and interest in those awards already available. Doing this may generate enough positive spin-off to benefit all children's writers. What do you think?

4 comments:

Fifi Colston said...

I think the childrens book awards are pretty well covered by Booksellers, LIANZA and CLFNZ. The difference in the awards to the author being money mainly- any acknowledegment is welcome and great but cash rocks. For the NZ Post Awards the publicity and promotion generally results in sales of another 1500- 2000 copies (feel free anyone to tell me otherwise from personal experience of being shortlisted)plus of course a fairly good cheque if you get placed. Books that are listed in all three awards are a strong indication that NZ agrees- from librarians, teachers, illustrators, other writers and kids. So personally I don't think more awards are necessary. Australia is awash with them and they seem confusing and quite political.

Melinda Szymanik said...

Cheers Fifi - I agree. A financial reward never goes amiss and 1500 to 2000 are decent additional sales numbers. But I do think anything that increases positive recognition of your name by the book buying public has to have long term benefits as well. I don't think that NZ could support or benefit from having more awards but I do think we need to find other ways to improve name recognition and have other sources of funding for children's writers

Fifi Colston said...

Only slighty off topic but...I still subscribe to the theory that you can sell anything in bulk by having a stand with 100 of the same book on it labelled 'new! Best Seller!' etc. Hard to find the tucked away NZ books when the stands with overseas authors are there to trip over first and catch your wallet. Marketing is everything and when combined with good writing (and illustration), a clear winner. So how do we market our books effectively? Do we wait for publishers to do it? Do we rely on Booksellers to do it? Do we give away free steak knives with sequels? This is a hot topic for the conference I feel!

maureen said...

Lifting the profile of the awards shortlist and winners for children's Lit should be the way to go...
Maybe we need a viral campaign....
Buy Kiwi Made...and get a 5% discount on a kiwi children's book...free book with every icebreaker jacket sent overseas...
stuff like that...
It has to be cool to read...kiwi...

ok
brain back in box
m