I have been inundated lately with invitations to submit my books to the London Book Festival, the Paris Book Festival, the San Francisco Book Festival, the New England Book Festival, the Hollywood Book Festival, the New York Book Festival, the Beach Book Festival, the Nashville Book Festival and several others.
They sound prestigious, don't they?
What these "Festivals" all have in common is that they have the same entry requirements and the same entry fees.
That's because they are actually all contests run by Bruce Haring's JM Northern Media and are, as the Miss Snark Literary Agent Blog aptly put it, "a crock of shit." Here are the details, for example, for the the 2011 Paris Book Festival:
The 2011 Paris Book Festival will consider entries in general non-fiction, fiction, biography/autobiography, children's books, cookbooks, compilations/anthologies; e-books; genre-based, how-to, photography/art, spiritual, music, teenage/young adult, unpublished stories and the wild card (anything goes!) categories published on or after Jan. 1, 2006.
Entries can be in French, English, Spanish, German or Portuguese and can be published, self-published or issued by an independent publishing house.
Our grand prize for the 2011 Paris Book Festival is $1500 cash and a flight to Paris for our gala awards ceremony on May 14, 2011 OR a flight to San Francisco, CA and a similar cash grant for our San Francisco Book Festival awards on the same date.
[…]Applications must be accompanied by a non-refundable entry fee via check, money order, credit card payment or PayPal online payment of $50 in U.S. dollars for each submission. Multiple submissions are permitted but each entry must be accompanied by a separate form and entry fee. Entry fee checks should be made payable to JM Northern Media LLC.
So let's examine those very discriminating rules. They will consider any book, published or unpublished, in almost any conceivable genre, written in one of five languages in the last five years. And you can enter the same book in as many categories as you want, as long as you keep writing checks for $50 to JM Northern each time.
That tough, rigorous criteria should tell you something about how prestigious and highly selective these "awards" and "festivals" actually are.
But if that isn't enough, look at what the winner of the Paris Book Festival will get… $1500 bucks and a trip to Paris OR "a similar cash grant" and a trip to San Francisco. You'll also notice that they don't tell you where exactly this "festival" is being held.
So I guess if you win the Paris Book Festival prize for your unpublished, 2007 collection of viking transgender time-travel poetry written in Portuguese….your prize could be $107.68 (which is similar to $1500 in that it's money) and a ticket to San Francisco (which is like Paris, in that it's a city) for the Festival which, for all you know, is being held at a Denny's in Daly City. Order the Grand Slam, it's tasty.
It amazes me that anyone falls for this, especially since winning an award at one of these "festivals" carries no prestige whatsoever, either in the publishing world or the entertainment industry. Or, as Miss Snark put it way back in 2006:
This is like being elected prom queen in a high school with six girls.
These kinds of "awards" are the latest crock of shit way to separate you from your money. They only need a couple suckers to make this thing profitable.
But JM Northern has been running these contests for years.…which I suppose means that there's still lots of money to be made from stupid authors, hungry for even meaningless recognition.