The other day I was introduced to an “Award Winning” author. Really? I though, how interesting. But I knew, as the friend who introduced us immediately turned a face when this “Award Winning” author introduced herself as such, that something was not right.
It took a while, but I was eventually able to broach the subject in the course of conversation. “So,” I asked, “what award did you win?”
The author beamed. “I took second place in my writers group awards for poetry last year,” she informed me.
“Oh?” I said, “That sounds wonderful. So happy for you. You must be thrilled with the recognition.”
“I am,” she grinned, “the other girl I was up against -“
“Yes, there were two of us who entered,” she informed me.
And out of just two entrants, I thought, you finished second? Essentially last?
I later found out that her authors group consists of about a dozen people. Every year they hold a contest and judge various entrants in a variety of categories. Then, they give out “awards”.
Usually, they have awards for first, second, and third place in a wide range of categories, 10 in total. Most people in their group enter multiple categories. That means that for a group of about 12 people, there are 30 awards. Hmmm, I pondered, seems like a high probability of winning an award.
But I let her go on and on about the trophy she recieved and how much it meant to her. I let her gush about how great it felt to be recognized for her hard work. I just listened as she told me all sorts of things, always wondering if she realized how silly the whole concept of calling herself an “Award Winning” author based on all this really sounded. I mean, really? Three prizes, only two entrants?
After this encounter, the whole incident made me start to question how many people who put “Award Wining” in their author profiles are in the same boat. How many of these “awards” people promote themselves as having received are similar, unremarkable ones that are some sort of vanity award? There is a huge difference between getting an award like the one this author I talked to above did and someone that wins a prestigious writing contest. There is a huge difference between getting an award in a contest were there are more awards than participants and a contest with thousands of entrants and just first, second and third place.
I don’t want to begrudge anyone their just recognition, but I also don’t take people seriously who promote a vanity award as something more than it really is. But if you promote yourself as “Award Winning” just because you got some vanity award, the only person you are cheating is yourself. At least in my opinion.