A Heads-Up: Book Awards for 2020

*AWARDS and GIVEAWAYS*
It’s almost time for the Annual Book Awards at Prismatic Prospects, and it’s going to be a busy award season this year! It’ll open with 2020’s Christmas Book Picks, followed by the awards for Favorite Covers, Favorite Reads, and Noteworthy Reads. And after the awards are finished this year, there will be a bonus list of favorites: Favorite Book Titles!

Here’s the schedule for the book award announcements:

Christmas Book Picks 2020
Friday, November 6th

Favorite Covers 2020
Wednesday, December 2nd

Favorite Reads 2020
Friday, December 4th

Noteworthy Reads 2020
Monday, December 7th

*BONUS after the awards*
Favorite Book Titles 2020
Wednesday, December 9th

There will be book giveaways for my blog readers and visitors to enter and a little gift for the Annual Book Award winners. Be sure to save the dates and stop by!

 

Nadine’s All-Time Favorite Books

In case you’ve seen this before: It’s a housekeeping post—because I decided to take the All-Time Favorite Reads page down from my website menu, but I still want this list viewable. 🙂

Here are my reviews of my all-time favorite books, listed by title.

American Anthem
•••
Bedford Falls: The Story Continues

The Butterfly and the Violin
•••
Cape Light Series

The Chosen
•••
The Chronicles of Narnia

The Emily Novels

The Fine Art of Keeping Quiet
•••
Great Expectations

Hadassah Series
•••
Harvest of Rubies

Jane Austen: A Life
•••
Jane Eyre

John Nielson Had a Daughter
•••
The Little Gymnast

A Little Princess
•••
Little Women

Love Comes Softly Series
•••
Middlemarch

My Name is Asher Lev
•••
Old Fashioned

Paradise Lost
•••
Petrified Flowers

The Portrait of a Lady
•••
Ramona the Pest

Return to the City
•••
Savannah Series

 

Seventeenth Summer
•••
A Severed Wasp

Song of Acadia Series
•••
The Touch

A Touching Performance
•••
Women of the West Series

 

Do You Distrust Authors Who Publish Too Frequently?

I realize that “publish too frequently” is a relative term. But the idea is that good writing takes time, and if authors rush the process of writing, revising, editing, etc., then the products they publish will likely be low quality. As an author and reader who’s particular about details, I understand and agree with that idea.

However, I don’t agree when fellow readers say it’s only possible for authors to produce one quality book a year—sometimes maybe two books—and that anything more than that is a sign of rushing and poor work.

Broadly applying “one book, maybe two in a year” to all authors doesn’t take into account that different writers’ training, abilities, and natural writing speeds differ; that different authors’ work schedules, households, life experience, and other personal circumstances differ; that not all books have identical research and groundwork requirements; that aspects such as book length and genre differ from one book to another; and that not all publishing methods and systems are the same.

I know that the longstanding precedent of traditional publishing (especially if an author only has one publisher) has set a lot of readers’ expectations for a publishing process that results in no more than one or sometimes two books from an author in one year. Hence, it’s understandable to assume that quality books depend on that common publishing speed/rate.

However, much (not all, but much) of that publishing process has nothing to do with how fast or slowly the author writes.

Even if an author can write a great manuscript in three weeks or a month, it’s still usually going to take several months to a year or so before that book makes it into print with the publisher. It’s not as though the publisher is putting all their time, focus, and finance into working with only one author’s one book.

Plus, if you were to get a look into authors’ writing lives behind the scenes, you’d find that many of them have multiple book ideas, more than one writing project going on, or even more than one finished manuscript at a time. Whether or not an author already has published books on the market, you never know how much unpublished material they may have “stacked” at home.

(Addressing the different reasons behind manuscripts, including good ones, sitting or remaining unpublished would take another blog post. But just because a book is published in a particular year doesn’t mean that’s the year the author wrote it.)

Nevertheless, some authors may get more books published in a year because they’ve landed contracts with more than one publisher. Some authors write in different genres under different names, so not all of their readers are aware of how many books the author has published in a year.

Also, with the tools and technology available nowadays for authors to publish independently, more of them are becoming hybrid authors: getting one or two books traditionally published in a year while also publishing additional books on their own in the same year—because now they can. There are also more authors who are fully independent, free to publish at their own pace, whether they’re naturally faster or slower writers. An independent author may have their own strictly scheduled, streamlined system that focuses on just that one author’s books, from their writing and revising time to their editor and cover designer, to their marketing plan, etc.

Besides, writing isn’t the only or main thing in every author’s work life. Many of the authors we read, even traditionally published ones, are people with other full-time day jobs—whether on account of preference or out of necessity. Even authors who can write pretty fast but only do it in the relatively few hours they fit in after their other jobs will likely produce books at a slower rate than they would if they wrote books full time, as some authors are in a position to do: 8 to 9 hours a day, 5 to 6 days a week.

Also, sometimes an author’s writing speed differs depending on the book or the author’s current season of life. It may take years for an author to write a single book because the material hits them so close to home. Or, the words may burst out of the author in a few weeks of writing because that sensitive material has been pent up. Or an author may not be super-emotionally attached to every book they write, but that author is fueled by successfully producing books that fans love.

Yes, when you’ve been used to seeing only one or two new books from authors in a year, you might be skeptical when you see other authors publishing more frequently than that. And unfortunately, there are some authors who do rush the process, skipping important steps or moving at a rate they personally can’t handle well, resulting in poorly crafted work.

However, poorly crafted work is not the standard that other works should be (pre)judged by, and not every higher-speed publishing process is a rushed or sloppy one. Publishing is changing, with more options available now than in the past. If an author is blessed and talented to write well at a fast speed, or they have ample hours to write every day, and they have an efficient publishing system to keep up with their production pace, I wouldn’t hold their efficiency against them, immediately assuming, “The books must not be good. It takes the author less than a year to publish them.”

Instead of prematurely basing our judgment of books on assumptions about every author’s writing process or publishing system, we should stop and take a fresh look at the products themselves—so that we won’t miss out on the good ones.

A Tip for Authors Dealing with Critical Book Reviews

I’ve written before about the kindness of critical book reviews, discussing how both positive and negative reviews are necessary in arts and entertainment and how more than just positive reviews benefit authors. Still, negative reviews can sting, and not all authors—especially newer ones—know exactly how to deal with them.

I’ll not be going into all the different ways of handling discouraging, frustrating, or baffling reviews. Rather, I’m getting to one tip for authors that I don’t hear as often as other tips.

See, many times when authors mention a negative review a reader posted about one of their books, the authors say something like, “I just got a terrible review,” or “A reader gave me one star because of such-and-such they didn’t like.”

The thing is, Author Joe, no—YOU didn’t just get a terrible review, and Author Sue, that reader didn’t give YOU one star. You the person are not what’s up for review, here. Readers are expressing their opinions about something they read, and we know how opinions vary depending on the individual.

One star from a reader doesn’t necessarily mean or prove that your book is horrible, and five stars from a reader doesn’t necessarily mean or prove that your book is excellent. Readers tend to review books based on their individual standards, thoughts, and feelings, and how a person experiences a book ultimately comes down to the person doing the experiencing. How people feel is up to them, whether the products they review are subjectively good or bad.

I know it can be difficult for authors not to take criticism of their works too hard or personally, especially considering that writing is such soul-deep work for many authors. But no matter how soul-deep the work of book writing is, book reviewing is still a subjective activity, and what someone thinks about a book they read doesn’t necessarily determine or prove anything about the person who wrote it.

So my little piece of advice to authors who want to handle book reviews better? Don’t say a reader “gave YOU” a rating or a review. Don’t word it so personally that you condition yourself to feel as though you are under assessment, as if whether or not someone likes your product affects your value. Instead, say something like, “A reader picked a two-star rating for my book because of such-and such,” or “One reviewer didn’t care for my book because of x-y-z.”

While you, figuratively speaking, may put a lot of yourself into your writing, you are not the books you sell. So don’t speak in a way that indicates you’re the product.

Hey. Some folks may think the issue of one’s language about reviews is an insignificant matter of semantics. But don’t writers know about the remarkable power of language? Being selective in your language about reviews of your books can help you to develop a thicker skin, to consider criticism from a professional perspective, and to maintain the right motivation as an author.