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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Do Literary Awards Make a Difference? Do Nominations? By James L. Rubart

I lost.

As you might know, my third novel, The Chair was a Christy finalist. (For those of you unaware of the award, it could be described as the Oscars of Christian Fiction.) Last night was the award ceremony where they announced the winners—among which I was not.

Yeah, I’ll admit it, it would have been nice to have won, but still much fun was had among my friends in publishing, and great to see close friend and fellow Novel Rocketeer Ronie Kendig take home the gold.

The industry certainly puts a great deal of credence in being a Christy nominee and/or winner, but I’m wondering, do you think it makes a difference to readers?

You’re a writer, but you’re also a reader. Do you pay attention to literary awards? If you do, does a book winning an award motivate you read it? Does the book have to win or does a nomination do it for you?

Do either of those push you over the edge to read a book you’ve been considering? Or does it not make that big a difference to you one way or the other? Do you think I’ve asked enough questions?

James L. Rubart is the best-selling author of ROOMS, BOOK OF DAYS, and THE CHAIR. During the day he runs Barefoot Marketing which helps businesses and authors make more coin of the realm. In his free time he dirt bikes, hikes, golfs, takes photos, and occasionally does sleight of hand. No, he doesn’t sleep much. He lives with his amazing wife and teenage sons in the Pacific Northwest and still thinks he’s young enough to water ski like a madman. More at 


  1. Brutal honesty I pay absolutely no attention to if a book has won an award or not. Why? Because awards are so subjective, as are reviews.

    Which means I'll be reading The Chair anyway.

  2. Congratulations on being a finalist! I think awards are more significant within the writing community itself, but not for readers. I never look at whether a book I want to read has won awards.

    1. Interesting, Jenna. I had breakfast this morning with a publisher and he agrees with you. Doesn't mean that much outside of literary circles.

  3. Jenna said it. I thrill for my friends who are finalists and winners, but it means little to those on the outside of the industry. Still, within the industry, it carries weight. It means you've worked hard on your craft, have passion for your story, and found the balance. So BRAVO to the finalists and the winners!!

  4. It does subtly influence me to think better of a book if an award is attached to it in some way, either nominated or won. Just having that connection to an award gives me a feeling of trust that will push me over the edge to buy a book, deserved or not! I don't even have to recognize what the award is!

  5. The Christys, as prestigious as they are for Christians, don't influence me at all. Yes, I'm a writer but I'm also an avid reader. Rarely have I read most of the novels nominated. And because they won doesn't change my mind. I don't read in half the genres. I think the genre breakdowns should be widened (i.e. a Thriller category should be added. Steven James' and J. Mark Bertrand's novels do NOT belong in the same category just as Robert Liparulo's and Athol Dickson's shouldn't have been). And to be extra frank here, some better novels have not been nominated (or submitted by their publishers) in different categories. So, more simply, no.

  6. Being a YA reader, the only "awards" that matter to me are the state ones, since nominees and winners get shelved differently in the school library.

  7. I don't make a point of buying and reading Christy Award finalists or winners. I am, however much more liked to buy a book that has won a Newbery or a Printz Award.

    So I guess it depends on the award.

    1. I'm with Sally and Ruth. Though plot and style have the biggest influence on me, knowing that a book has depth and the backing of "experts" means something. With all the books out there to choose from, I like insured quality in my reading. I've read many non-award winning stories that should be, but I've also found favorites among award winners.

  8. Must agree with Sally. Mainstream awards, yes. Christian awards, no. But then, I think most know my propensity for that.

  9. James, I must say I LOVE the picture you chose for the post. Ha.

    Congratulations for being nominated, that is a prize as well, silver or bronze maybe, but wear that honor with pride.

    A nomination says your book has gotten people's attention, in a good way, and that the book is well worth a reader's time investment. All the Christy nominated books I've read have been well written, so, a mention that the book or author is Christy nominated means something to me.


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