Why did you start an awards site?
Authors I spoke with felt they weren’t playing on a level field in some book competitions. I heard comments like:
– Only the big publishers’ authors win awards.
– The same people seem to win time and again.
I listened because I had felt the same things when I entered other contests. My books didn’t win either—not because they weren’t good enough—but because of politics and a host of other reasons. I’d heard the rumors, innuendos, and bitterness, and I didn’t want that; I wanted to find a way for everyone to play on a level and fair playing field.
What qualifies you to run an awards site?
I’ve run various companies for the past thirty years for myself and for others. They may not have had anything to do with literature, but the principles are the same. Anyone who reads my books knows I do my research, and long before we put up the websites, I’d been researching the various sites to see what I felt worked. I discussed it with others, who helped me create and implement our own awards sites.
One thing people stressed most was they felt the awards judging should be anonymous. They didn’t believe that the judges should know who was entering—not the name of the author or the name of the publisher—and that’s why we came up with the “blind judging” on our sites. The authors’ names, the book titles, and the publishers’ names are stripped from the book, so our competent judges, whom we carefully vet, have no idea who was involved in making the book they are judging. Our judging panels have included lawyers, doctors, teachers, and other professionals. They are judging solely on the merits of the books entered, as we feel it should be. They are contributing their valuable time and effort to judge your books fairly, and we hope, honestly.
Shouldn’t we know who the judges are?
We believe you should know that your book is being judged fairly, and we believe the judges anonymity benefits you and them. In the beginning, I wanted to remain anonymous as well, but that was a mistake that I immediately rectified. I take responsibility for ensuring you are getting a full, fair judging experience for your buck. I coordinate everything, and it’s a LOT of work!
Are you running a for-profit site?
Absolutely, and we use your money to pay for the awards, the sites, and the marketing and advertising we will do on behalf of the winners. Each year, we will use our profits to expand our efforts as the awards grow.
Have you made a profit yet?
No, and I didn’t expect we would in the beginning. I paid for everything out of pocket in order to get this started. I went into this thinking I would give each site five years of my time, money, and effort at no charge, and others have joined me in offering their time and effort at no charge. Our judges are not paid either.
Should you make a profit?
Yes, eventually. This is a lot of work, and I have plans to reinvest those future profits as well. As the interest in lesbian and gay literature grows, we will invest our profits in new ideas to bring even more attention to lesbian and gay literature.
Why are you doing this if you aren’t making money right away?
Because we feel someone needs to do it, and why not me? Someday, I will pass the torch to someone else—maybe someone more qualified, with more ambition, and with better skills—but right now, it’s me and my crew that have stepped up. The support I receive from others, including their ideas and their help, is not only appreciated, it’s valued beyond profit.
Shouldn’t there be a monetary prize for the winners?
That is a great idea…when we are making a profit. We get a lot of suggestions that have merit, and we appreciate them all. As the awards grow and evolve, we will consider adding features. Right now, the award, the marketing, the extra exposure, and bragging rights are all we can offer.
What if my category doesn’t have enough entrants?
Unfortunately, that happened last year, and we refunded fees to every entrant of the category where there weren’t enough entries to warrant judging. Our site states that the entrance fee is non-refundable, but we don’t plan to keep your money if your book(s) aren’t judged.
Are you different than the other awards out there?
We believe so. The blind judging certainly is different. We looked at the best of what others were offering and tried to build and improve on that. We aren’t the only awards site out there, and except for our blind judging, which we feel is original and unique, we aren’t reinventing the wheel. We do a lot of social media promotion and continue to pursue advertising opportunities for the winners.
Why should I send you my money to judge my book?
That money helps us pay to have your book judged fairly and in the most honest way we know. If you win, that money buys you a beautiful award and helps us market and advertise your book all over social media and other selected sites. We send press releases out worldwide, and as we grow, we plan to do even more. Think of your entry fee as an investment in the book you wrote and in you as an author. You put in the time and effort to create your works, and we want to see you rewarded.
Are you experiencing growing pains and other challenges associated with the awards sites?
Yes, and we’re using these experiences to learn and grow. Each year, we will learn more and create different ideas and more opportunities to make the awards and your books shine.
Ironically, despite my good intentions of assisting ALL authors, I cannot and will not enter my own awards. Although we try to keep things as anonymous as possible, it might be deemed unfair if I won. That’s okay though. I enjoy a challenge, and I want to help authors succeed. While I could be spending more time writing and publishing my own works, I also enjoy helping others. It’s a thrill to see my fellow authors win! And I am vicariously loving the joy I see on their faces as they hold their awards up in their pictures, when they receive congratulations from their friends for a job well done, and seeing their postings on social media and the wonderful comments they receive.
You may not agree with everything we do, and we gladly welcome constructive suggestions. We would love to hear your ideas for improving our awards. It’s your money, it’s your time, it’s your work, and ultimately, it’s your decision to enter or not. We hope you do, and we hope yours is an uplifting experience!
To enter and check out the Lesfic Bard Awards
To enter and check out the Gay Scribe Awards