Dear Agony Editor,
Another literary awards season has come and gone. My book wasn’t nominated for anything. I’m trying to keep a stiff upper lip, but I know this means my novel will soon fade into obscurity. I’m also questioning whether my book was any good in the first place. I don’t like feeling this way, but I can’t get myself out of this slump. Any advice about how to pull through?
I know – it can be tough to scan those award lists and not see your book included.
The good news is that awards aren’t the reason you became a writer. I mean, sure, the idea of winning awards was probably part of your fantasy world during your pre-published days. But that’s not what motivated you to write.
Like all writers, you wrote because you needed to. It was a compulsion. You wanted to add your voice, perspectives, and characters to the world’s chorus. I bet you didn’t even think about how many people you’d reach, only that your books would connect with whoever they were meant to connect with. You knew your stories would mean the world to those readers. You’d help them make sense of their lives and give meaning to the fears and mysteries within their everyday existence. You’d help people feel less alone. That’s why you became a writer, not to win awards.
The fact that a handful of your peers didn’t select your book for an award doesn’t mean it has no value. In terms of your book fading into obscurity, it’s something many authors fear. But I’d like to remind you that a book’s life can be a weird one. And, just like in the best plots, there’s no telling what surprises may be waiting for your book – a year from now or 10 years from now. All it takes is one person to make a difference.
Lastly, try to cheer on your award-nominated colleagues. It’s not always easy, but cheering for other authors will do your soul good in the long run. Their win is a win for books. And we all need those cheers more than ever.