One Writer’s Journey

April 7, 2014

Spark Award

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:24 am
Tags: , ,

SparkLast week, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustratrators (SCBWI) announced the first every Spark Award winners.  The Spark Award is given to the authors and illustrators of independently published books.

The judges selected two winners, one novel and one picture book.

Karen Avivi from Quebec, Canada is the novel winner for her YA novel, Shredded.  

Neil Waldman of White Plains, New York won with his picture book, Al and Teddy.

The judges also names four honor books:

The award is open to current members of SCBWI who have independently-published a board book, picture book, chapter book, middle grade, or young adult novel.  The judges focused on quality of writing and concept, quality of illustrations (if applicable), professional presentation, and editing and design.

I’m interested to see how this one plays out.  The independently published authors I know take this award as vindication for their choice.  “Ha, ha!  Now SCBWI has to recognize that we are the equals of Randomhouse and Penguin.”

Sorry, I don’t think so.  As a long-time book reviewer, I’ve seen a lot of books both traditionally published and self-published.  I may not love every traditionally published book that I pick up but the quality is generally there.  Quality? At the very least, I can tell that there was a book designer involved.  And an editor.

Yeah, I know it sounds snotty but that’s the problem with most indepently published books.  An editor is a big deal and I don’t just mean the copy editor who makes sure your commas are in the right place.  The general editor helps in so many ways and makes your book more readable.

Then there’s the book design.  I did graphics in college and I know how to lay out a map and draw artifacts.  I can put together graphics that are clear and easy to read.  That does not qualify me to design a book.  There’s so much that goes into choosing the right font, designing the cover, and if there are illustrations knowing what makes them pull the reader deeper into the story.

I don’t know any single person who brings all of these skills to the table.  That means that if you want independently publish, you have to find and pay someone who is strong where you are weak.

Independent publishing isn’t a short cut.  It’s just a different path.  Hopefully the Spark Award will help both readers and writers take note of the independent authors who are getting it right.



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