What do Judges Look for When Scoring a Literary Awards Title?

Sheri Hoyte Editor

Sheri Hoyte
Editor

It’s October already!  The holidays are upon us and for our reviewers at Reader Views that also means lots and lots of reading as the 2017-2018 Reader Views Literary Awards program is open for submissions and in full swing.  Just a couple things to note that are new for this year:

·         We’ve extended the entry deadline to December 31st to accommodate all 2017 copyright books

·         Our early bird registration discount is extended to October 31st.  

So what do judges look for when scoring a literary awards title? Reading with my judge’s hat on is different than reading for leisure. I need to be able to evaluate the work through several different and specific aspects of the book, and thus must be on the lookout for, and pay attention to those details. Following are the guidelines I use when judging a literary awards title:

·         Content.  Content of course, is critical.  Does the author’s voice convey a distinct and consistent style throughout?  Does the flow of the book draw the reader in at an appropriate pace?  Does the reader have a clear understanding of who the characters are in the story? 

·         Presentation and Design.  I’ve said this before; there is nothing more distracting to a great story than editing and proofreading errors.  This is the easiest thing to fix or prevent in the first place.  I can tell within the first few pages whether or not a professional editor has been used.  An occasional typo won’t make or break the book, but consistent use of poor grammar will cause me to close the book for good.

·         Production Quality.   Is the cover attractive and appropriate for the genre and the story?  Yes, I know the cliché, but a dull and drab cover, or a noisy cover with hidden titles and too much information can be a turn off.  Does the binding fall apart when opening the book?  Is the paper quality adequate or just so-so?  I have a hard time concentrating on a story when the book I’m reading is falling apart or the pages are tearing because the paper is so thin. 

·         Innovation. It’s no surprise there is a lot of competition out there in the writing world, now so more than ever.   To stand out in any genre, innovation is the key.  Is the subject matter original?  Does the author bring a fresh voice to the genre?   Are writing elements being used in interesting and creative ways?

·          Social Relevance and Enjoyment.  For fiction books: Is the book impactful on the community of the genre?  Is it reflective of important social issues? Is it highly entertaining and completely engrossing?  Would I re-read this book?  Was I left wanting more? 

·         Resourcefulness.   For self-help, business, how-to, etc. type of books: Is the book easy to follow, clear and concise? Are credible sources noted? Does the author have credibility in the subject matter?

When I read a book, whether for pure enjoyment, to learn a new skill, expand my knowledge, or for a literary contest, I want to feel a connection to that book.  Be it fiction or non-fiction, humorous or biographical, when I’ve finished a book and it lingers in my mind for days – that is the sign of greatness. Happy holidays everyone and happy reading!

Judging a Book by Its Title

Susan Violante Managing Editor

Susan Violante
Managing Editor

I can’t count the number of times I was misled by a title. A book title can make or break the book’s sales and popularity. The title is the book. It must be a summary of the book–an encapsulation of all its content in a few words, so creating a great title cannot only make or break sales, it can also make or break book reviews!

No matter how good a book is, if the title does not appeal to readers, they are never going to read your book. And if the title does not relate to the story and becomes misleading, readers giving reviews might not be the right audience, and thus will not recommend to other readers. Here are a few tips for creating a book title that will capture reader’s interest, clearly convey the book’s subject matter, and be memorable.
 

  • Short and To-The-Point. The title needs to be short and to the point so it immediately conveys your book’s subject. Titles should be no more than five words, and one or two is preferable.
  • Alliteration and Rhythm. You want your title to roll off the reader’s tongue, so it is not only easy to say but a pleasure to repeat. Some of the best titles have alliteration in them, a repeating sound that gives the title emphasis and flow. Repetition of a word also works well to give the title a rhythmic sound. Here are a few effective titles that use alliteration:

He Knew He Was Right (repetition and alliteration)
The Way We Live Now (alliteration)

The idea is to create the effect of a sound bite to make it easy to remember.

  • Avoid Words with Double Meanings or Pronunciations. Ask yourself if your title has any words that could be misread before you settle on them.
  • Be Original. Be sure to do an online search for your title to see whether anything comes up. If you find other books with your title, pick a different title. The last thing you want is to be thought as just another author writing about the same thing. Make sure that your uniqueness is reflected in your title so that your book stands out.
     
  • Make sure it can also be the website’s domain. When making sure your title is original, also check to see whether your book title is being used for a website. These days is not only important to stand out on the book cover…you should also be consistent on your website. Make sure your title can also be the book’s domain. Search the title as a domain and create it so that the title leads readers directly to your website so you can sell them your book.
  • Subtitles. If you feel your title needs more explanation, a subtitle is a good idea, provided it’s not there just for show. But don’t let that stop you from having fun. Yet, make sure it complements the title instead of repeating it. Also make it as short as possible.

Whatever you do, don’t forget to give your title a great deal of thought. Make it clear and memorable and your book will be too. For more information on how we can help Authors please visit www.readerviews.com.

Podcast Internet Radio Shows

Susan Violante Managing Editor

Susan Violante
Managing Editor

The internet has evolved beyond from being a place to read to being a place to see and listen to information. Radio has moved to the internet, and anyone can set up his or her own internet radio show. Authors can find plenty of internet radio shows where they can be guests, and they might even want to host their own shows to provide added exposure to their own books and to discuss topics they care about that tie into their book’s subject.

So what is a podcast? Basically, it is a live or pre-recorded show broadcast or uploaded on the Internet so people can listen to it. It is simply a recording stored online. The advantage of podcasts is that listeners do not have to tune in when the show airs but can visit the website later to play the recording. Options exist today for both live radio shows and for recording shows and placing them online so people can listen to them at their convenience.

Technology and technical skills aside, the key to creating an effective podcast to get people to listen is not really different than creating an effective talk radio or TV show. Some are funded by the audience; others are sponsored by third parties and even by the same Author through podcast service fees. All of them have an audience and are capable to spread your name and title out there. Here are some tips on requesting and getting booked:

  • Take the time to check the platform for the show and what type of audience will it draw. The purpose for the show is to fill a need within an audience—so make sure your topic of expertise or the topic of your book is a good fit before submitting.
  • If this is your first interview, do not be afraid to tell the host or the producer of the podcast. Ask as many questions you need about the process and provide the host with sample questions. There is no guarantee they will all be asked but it will for sure set a guideline for topics of conversation, which in turn give you an idea of what to expect.
  • Have as many rehearsals as needed by creating mock interviews with a friend or relative. Pay attention to how you answer the questions and make sure you manage to include the title of your books, and your website more than once; and even come up with a sound-bite to help the audience remember them.
  • The day of the interview, just relax, be yourself and enjoy the trip!
  • Finally, spread the word once the interview is up! Don’t be shy when it comes to letting everyone know about your interview! Post the link in your website and spread through social media.

For more information on how we can help authors please visit us at www.readerviews.com.

Early Bird Awards Fees and Other Ways to Save on Submissions – Don’t Miss Out!

Susan Violante Managing Editor

Susan Violante
Managing Editor

Literary Awards are the best credibility tool for Indie writers. Yet submitting to as many as possible in hopes to get a placement on one of them can get pricey. Here are some tips on how to budget when submitting your title to many contests.

·         Search for small and local Literary Awards that have low or no entry fees. Yes it would be awesome if your title could win a National Award…but that doesn’t mean that a placement on a small one is not a good thing. On the contrary, as they might have less competitors, chances for placement become more possible. Plus, many are budget friendly.

·         Submit in eBook form when possible. Some Awards will allow eBook submissions for printed titles, so read the guidelines carefully and take advantage of anything that might save money. Savings don’t come only through submission fees!

·         Finally, the most evident savings tip is to take advantage of early bird discounts! To make the judging less hectic, many Awards will offer an Early Bird discount to authors. Not waiting ‘till the deadline can save the author a big chunk from their budget!

For more information on how we help Authors visit www.readerviews.com; and check out our Literary Awards Early Bird Discount at www.readerviews.com/literaryawards.

Fall is Coming!

Susan Violante Managing Editor

Susan Violante
Managing Editor

The National Month of Books, October, could not be in a better month! Halloween, Thanksgiving and the Holidays are just next door. This is why Fall is my favorite season…the time a miracle happens as the fall colors paint the scenery, night falls earlier than before, and mystery tangles with joy. It is hard to decide what read in this type of environment as our mood changes with each occasion. So we better stock up on a little of everything, whether for ourselves or to give to a love one! Remember that fall is coming and with it an almost infinite array of stories to enjoy and share by the fire…

Below are few tips on making the most of a good read!

·         Check out the New Releases to make sure you keep yourself updated.

·         Don’t limit yourself to your favorite genre, live a little and take a chance on something different.

·         Don’t forget to re-visit a Classic! There are awesome books from previous years that we never got to worth reading!

·         Make reading a daily ritual, something you look forward to after the busy day.

·         Stock up on books and your favorite hot tea flavors!

·         Enjoy!

. For more information on how we help authors visit www.readerviews.com.

Benefits of Sending Books Early to Awards and Contests

Susan Violante Managing Editor

Susan Violante
Managing Editor

Granted, sometimes books come out right before the submission deadlines for some awards programs chosen by authors, so early submissions are no longer an option. Yet with advanced planning, a book launching can always be synchronized to contests deadlines, literary magazine guidelines, and important marketing calendar dates. If it is too late for the current book in production, creating a synchronized publishing calendar, program, and plan for the next title in the works will definitely give the best chance possible for the title to make good sales, especially if it can get to the hands of awards judges early.  Following are a few benefits of submitting early:

·         An early submission gets to judges with a blank slate on what the standard curve of the contest will be.  Remember, books are graded by judges as they are read, so it makes sense to try to get a book to them before they have read a hundred submissions in the same category, in my opinion, in hopes of being judged before other strong competitor raise the bar.

·         If the contest offers a book review with it, sometimes the review gets posted on their page shortly after it is produced. This gives the author not only a view of what the judge might think about it, it also gives the author a tool to use to get followers, buyers and create anticipation with their fans. From the marketing point of view, all of this interaction brings new visitors to the author page, improving opportunity for sales.

·         By sending submissions early, the author can focus on all other aspects of the title’s launch, events and other publicity efforts.

·         Many Awards programs offer early bird discounts, which will always help the budget.

A clarification is needed on entering early. By no means should ARC’s be sent to a contest, even if sending early.  The books sent should be the final product, as they are subject to judging with the intent to score a placement. Although advanced copies are great to send to reviewers, they are not the best idea when sending to a Literary Awards. For more information on how we help authors visit www.readerviews.com. To enter the Reader Views Literary Awards Click Here.

Simple Proofreading Tips

Editor

Editor

Proofreading can make the difference between a mediocre or dismissed manuscript, and a standout book. Skimping on the proofreading can result in a series of embarrassing errors. A few simple steps and a lot of patience can make proofreading pay off in the book printing long run.

Proofreading is not simple or easy. Nor should it be done quickly. Proofreading is an integral step in producing a quality book. While authors must always take responsibility for their own work, hiring a good proofreader is essential.

Here are some tips for making the proofreading process more effective:

  • Use the right font. Leave the fancy fonts to the book layout people. There is no reason for a manuscript to be written in different fonts or font sizes. Choose only one easy-to- read font and size—Times New Roman 12 is standard. Fancier fonts tend to blur letters together or have scripts where some letters are almost beyond recognition. Fancy fonts are sure to give you typo problems simply because they are hard to read.
  • Use the magnifying glass. Not literally, unless you’re proofreading on paper, but instead of reading the manuscript at 100% view, increase it so it fills the screen—150 or 200% is advisable. Of course, you don’t want it so large you have to scroll back and forth, but the larger the print on the screen, the easier on your eyes and the more likely you’ll spot the typos.
  • Read slowly – more than once. Nothing in proofreading is more important than simply reading slowly. Yes, it can be a tad boring, but an error-free manuscript is worth it.
  • Read out loud.  You will be surprised by how you can improve tone and style simply by reading your manuscript out loud—you will catch nuances of rhythm you would not have caught earlier just by listening to yourself. I also believe your brain is forced to concentrate more closely on the page when you read out loud, which means you are more likely to catch errors.
  • Read backwards. Don’t switch to reading left to right. Instead, start at the bottom of the page and read each line or sentence forward. That way, you won’t get lulled into the rhythm of the sentences and instead will be forced to see what is on every individual line. This process is time-consuming so you probably won’t stick with it for long, but it is good because it teaches beginning proofreaders to slow down and pay attention.
  • Look at every word and every letter. Paying close attention to each word and letter is vitally important. Many authors rely too much on spell-check. Spell-check will not catch words that are correctly spelled but in the wrong place.
  • Finally, always get a second opinion. Proofread your work, then give it to someone else to proofread. Don’t expect the other person to make it perfect and then consider the job done. Look at the mistakes the other person finds and learn from them. If you find you are making a recurring mistake, such as typing “dairy” for “diary,” you’ll learn to break yourself of the habit and watch for it more closely next time you do your own proofreading.

Proofreading, just like anything, requires practice. The more time you dedicate to it, the better you will be.  For information on how Reader Views can help indie authors, visit www.readerviews.com.

Starting a Writers Group? Why?

Susan Violante Managing Editor

Susan Violante
Managing Editor

It is not an overstatement when people say that the writer’s life is an isolated one, and even though most writers prefer to work alone, they will all need feedback or at least encouragement and a chance to share ideas with others at some point. Attending a writer group is an awesome way to accomplish this but sometimes finding one that will fit the author’s needs near their location is hard to do. In those cases why not create your own writers group? Creating your own writers group has many perks like providing writing tips, achieving discipline, broadening horizons, and the benefit of establishing friendships with like-minded people.

Here are some tips for starting a writers group:

·         Find compatible writers. Ask any writers you know if they want to be part of a group and tell them to invite their friends as well. Set up a time and place to meet. Figure out any details about what your meetings will look like and specify them on your call out for members. If you don’t know any other writers, find a public place where you can meet like your local book store, library, or even a Starbucks and then create fliers or put notices in the newspapers or on social media sites inviting people to join you for an organizational meeting.

·         Decide on the group’s goals. Do you want to share your writing with each other during the meeting? Do you want to spend part of the time writing? Do you just want to talk about writing and share experiences? Just make sure you get what you need from it, since you are the one starting the group.

·         Determine the level and experience you wish to include in the group.  Will they be all traditionally published novelists, self-published non-fiction writers, or starting writers? Will the group focus on fiction or non-fiction, short stories, or essays? Can your group encompass these different interests and levels, or do you feel a need to split into different groups? Could you have one main group and then some smaller subgroups that split off from it?

·         Establish a regular meeting place, date, and time. Make sure the date, day of week, and time are convenient to people. Make sure the meeting space fits your needs, either for quiet, accessibility, room for the size of your group, and comfort.

·         Decide on the membership and organization. Will someone be moderator, or will you take turns moderating the group? Will it be a closed group limited just to the current members? Will it be open to everyone and advertised as such? Will it be invitation only to people you know? What, if any, requirements, such as annual dues, will be required of members?

·         Decide on the meeting format. You might want to begin with introductions, especially if you will let people come and go. Should you have a set agenda or let it vary?

·         Create a membership contact list. Exchange names, phone numbers, and email addresses with each other so you can get in touch if you want to outside of the meeting or if you need to contact each other in case of a meeting change or cancellation. Someone might want to volunteer to maintain a group list and keep notes on each meeting.

Remember that there isn’t a specific formula or frequency for meetings. Keep it light, fun, informative, respectful and consistent to make sure everyone looks forward to the meeting. For more information on how we help writers visit us at www.readerviews.com.