Florida Book Awards open for entries
If you happen to be a full-time Florida resident with the good fortune to publish a book in 2009 with a commercial or university publishing house, the time has come to think about entering the Florida Book Awards contest.
Notice that word “commercial”: Self-published authors need not apply.
Sponsored by 14 humanities organizations and coordinated by the Florida State Universities Libraries, the Florida Book Awards is a venerable competition established in the misty yesteryear of 2006. Okay, so it’s a fairly new prize, but organizers claim it has already become “the most comprehensive state book awards competition in the nation.”
Nonfiction is the one category in which authors may live outside the state, but their books must be on a Florida subject. Other categories are: general fiction, young adult literature, children’s literature, poetry, popular ficiton and Spanish-language book.
Entries can be submitted by anyone, for example the author, the publisher, an agent, or, as far as I can tell, the author’s mother. As noted above, entires must be professionally published between the dates of Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2009, and also have an International Standard Book Number (ISBN).
All entries must be recieved (not postmarked) by 5 p.m. Jan. 4, 2010, but contestants are encouraged to submit their entries as soon after publication as possible. Five finalists in each category will be selected by three-member juries, made up of representatives from sponsoring organizations, faculty experts from Florida universities, and past winners.
Winners are to be announced in early March. Gold Medalists will be honored at a couple of ceremonies, one in Tallahassee on March 24, sponsored by the Division of Cultural Affairs, and another in Orlando, sponsored by the Florida Library Association in April.
To give you a flavor of the Florida Book Awards, here’s the list of last year’s winners: Newt’s World: Beginnings, (Cypress), by Susan Wombie, children’s literature; The First Hollywood (University Press of Florida), by Shawn Bean, Florida nonfiction; Requiem, Mass. (Norton), by John Dufresne, general fiction; Rabbit in the Moon (Oceanview), by Deborah Shlian and Joel Shlian, genre fiction; The Temple Gate Called Beautiful (Alice James Books), by David Kirby, poetry; Chiquita (Alfaguara), by Antonio Orlando Rodriguez, Spanish-language; Whispers from the Bay (Southeast Books), by John Tkac, young adult literature.
No cash prize is mentioned, but apart from bragging rights and a burnished author bio, there is significant publicity value: winning books and their authors will be showcased in the summer 2010 issue of FORUM, the magazine of the Florida Humanities Council. They’ll also be featured at book festivals and associations conferences throughout the year.