Each year the international Cat Writers Association (That's right--there are a lot of us. Be very afraid.) holds a writers conference and awards ceremony. I received notice in the mail yesterday that I'll be receiving "Certificate of Excellence" awards in the 3 categories I applied in: humor, column writing, and gift book.
The Certificate is the first step. Each category is judged by 3-5 judges and a point system is awarded. On a 100-point scale, you must earn 90 points or higher to receive the Certificate. The real award though, is called the Muse Medallion. Let's say there are 3 certificate winners in a category. Those 3 will then compete against one another for the top award, which is the Medallion. I've won several Certificates of Excellence over the years but still haven't snagged a Medallion.
I can almost guarantee I won't receive a Medallion for my book. I'm up against Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover's Soul and I (rightfully) don't see me beating that book. Maybe for humor or for my column, which is also a humor column.
The one thing I've noticed with humor writing is that when in the same category against "reporting" or a "tear-jerker," it tends to get overlooked. I've talked about this with many humor writers at various conferences. Many of them complain that it's because people think writing humor is easy or anyone can do it, which is far from true. Humor writing is some of the hardest writing there is to do.
I think human nature comes into play. If you're looking at two columns and one is about rescuing a feral cat from a life of neglect and one is a humor piece about wiping a cat's butt, I think people would feel guilty "ignoring" the hard story in favor of the fun one. It doesn't mean the humor piece any less well-written, but I do understand why it's harder for people to select the humor articles as the winner.
Anyway, it's still fun seeing who wins what. And the conference is held in conjunction with the Cat Fanciers annual cat show and that is a sight to behold. A coliseum full of felines--I'm in heaven. I'll do a book signing along with several other cat writers from our group. I was excited about the signing last year, thinking, "A cat show! What better place to sell cat books?"
Actually, it's a horrible place to sell cat books. That's because there are aisles and aisles and aisles of people selling nothing but cat crap - books, toys, food, furniture, jewelry, clothing, and on and on and on. It's so overwhelming that everything tends to just blend into one another and not a lot gets sold.
Besides, I've learned that people who own cats aren't the ones who buy my book. People who have spouses, friends or relatives that own cats tend to be the people who buy my book as a gift for their friends.
Speaking of cats, there is a little feline face staring up at me now, wondering why I'm pounding away on keys instead of petting her. Good question.