Today’s post is about some lovely news. Two Steps Forward has been shortlisted for the inaugural Most Underrated Book Award, and I’m pretty chuffed. As author Nigel Featherstone is fond of quoting, only one per cent of writing in Australia gets published. (I have no idea how this stat was arrived at but if Nigel’s quoting it it must be true.) That figure is enough to make one feel grateful just to get into print. So to then have your book recognised for an award, well it’s pretty nice.
The award has been established by SPUNC, the advocacy body for small and independent publishers, with the criteria being that books can’t have won any of the major awards. It’s the only book industry prize to award both the author and the publisher. And that’s important, because so often it’s the smaller publishers who are taking risks on authors and books they feel passionate about.
In truth, 99 per cent of books published by independents are underrated. Okay, I made that stat up, but if you look down the list of any of the major literary awards it’s always the big end of town that’s represented. Well-established and well-known authors by publishers with the big bucks. And yet, as SPUNC President, Emmett Stinson, notes: ‘Independent publishing plays an essential role in Australian culture. The vast majority of titles written by Australian authors are produced by small and independent publishers.’
By my reckoning the probability that a book of short fiction can take out the gong is nil (I’d put money on The Cook to win) but it’s a thrill to be nominated, and I’m looking forward to a celebratory drink at the Gala Awards ceremony this week.
If you live in Melbourne Readings has 20 per cent off all the shortlisted titles during November. Why not buy all four (she cheekily suggests).