Ah, awards season. A time of wins, losses, prizes, and registration fees. It’s a time when you must be comfortable with chaos surrounding you and you have to keep your memory as organized as your Excel sheets. But alas, this year has added yet another hurdle to the seemingly never-ending sprint, and that is COVID-19. Everyone has been uprooted by the pandemic in more ways than one. It seems to have affected nearly every facet of our lives, and rightfully so. If we don’t take the proper precautions, there will be even more unnecessary deaths than there have already been. Across the world, we are just trying to adjust to the “new normal” with no training wheels. But how has it impacted the awards season for book publishers? I’m glad you asked.
It’s chaos. Utter chaos.
Rules are altered, deadlines have been changed, and payment methods vary from award to award. It forces a person to practice multitasking on another level. But that’s what is asked of a publisher’s assistant. Like the publisher, we need to be able to switch and manage completely different aspects of the industry in a snap, moving from metadata entry one minute to working with marketing on the next social media campaign the next.
All in all, that’s what it means to work for a press. All of us have to juggle multiple tasks that don’t always seem to connect, but somehow these different tasks create a book. Without marketing at Ooligan Press, we wouldn’t have any clue who to sell the book to. Without digital, we would have no way to display our product. If we didn’t have an editor who also handled some coding, there would be typos in our books and no ebooks, and without design, the covers would all be gray. We’re all divided up into different groups with varying tasks that push and pull at our progress of creating a wonderful book that is, generally, written by a wonderful person.
So, why are awards so important to publishers if they don’t add to the book-making process?
Awards are specifically meant for post-pub, and a lot of independent presses depend on winning in their category in order to continue making other books. Ooligan Press likes to focus on some of the more well-known contests such as the Oregon Book Awards and the Foreword Indies because they tend to offer a more substantial monetary award while also creating deals for publishers that enter multiple titles. But Ooligan has also started turning its focus toward awards that support book diversity, especially as we start to publish more books with LGBTQ+ protagonists. Along with the monetary profit that can come with winning awards, many of these contests also bring more publicity for the book, bringing more buyers. So in the end, the chaos surrounding you and having to keep your memory as organized as your Excel sheets becomes extremely worth it when you think of what it can bring to the press.