It’s your life…Posted: November 26, 2011
Hello! I hope your holiday season got off to a great start with good food, good memories, and good conversations. As always, family holidays lead to family and personal histories, so today’s topics are awards for Biographies, Autobiographies, and Memoirs.
Not to insult anyone, but just to make sure we are all on the same page:
Biography= I write a book about YOUR LIFE. I might interview you and/or anyone who ever knew you, I might do other research, or I might just make some really good guesses.
Autobiography= You write a book about your WHOLE LIFE and attempt to be entirely factual and honest about it. Brave Soul.
Memoir= You choose bits and pieces of your life to write about, and acknowledge that there may be some bias and or emotion involved. As a reader, I might take some of what you write with a grain of salt.
My personal feeling is that these are three ENTIRELY different processes, and should be awarded as such, but most places/people group them together for awards purposes. The REALLY well done bio’s can go on to win things like the National Book Award, or the Pulitzer. There ARE awards out there that are just for this group of books, and here are a few of the ones I found: (click on each for a list of winners/more information)
The 2012 New York Book Festival will consider published, self-published and independent publisher non-fiction, fiction, children’s books, teenage, how-to, audio/spoken word, comics/’zines, e-books, poetry, wild card (anything goes!), unpublished stories, science fiction, horror, photography/art, romance and biography/autobiography works.
A panel of judges will determine the winners based on the following criteria:
The story-telling ability of the author.
The potential of the work to win wider recognition.
Entries can be in English, Spanish, French or Italian and must be published on or after January 1, 2006. Our grand prize for the 2011 New York Book Festival Author of the Year is $1,500 and a flight to New York for the awards.
All the work is done by a publishing company in CA, and no information is given about the judging panel.
- New England Book Festival Biography- Sponsored and administered by the SAME publishing company that does the NY Book festival, same rules and copy on the website…
- Richard Slatten Award for Excellence in Virginian Biography, Virgina Historical Society No info given on how the winners are selected or entered.
- National Jewish Book Award in the Biography, Autobiography, and Memoir Category, the Jewish Book Council,
The goal for National Jewish Book Award judging panels is to select a quality book in their respective category that will appeal to a broad reading audience. There are variations in the rules governing each award category, but the judges are guided by these principles in arriving at their decisions:
The book must be of Jewish content. Books, either hardcover or original paperback, must be published between January 1–December 31 of the year under consideration. If the book is published in November or December of the prior year, and only if no galleys are available prior to the publication date, the book may be submitted the following year.
The book must be primarily printed in English and distributed in the United States.
- Los Angeles Book Festival Biography/Autobiography, same sponsor, rules etc. as NY & New England.
- San Francisco Book Festival Biography Ditto the other book festivals
Wow. I never would have thought that all the city book festivals were really the SAME publisher….not sure what I think about that. And, as a disclaimer, I’m sure that LOTS of other awards have categories for Bio/Memoir/Auto, but in the interest of attention spans, these are the ones I picked. I wish there were more awards out there specifically FOR this category, because a well done bio can be a WONDERFUL thing, and a bad one, well, is very, very, bad and can make you hate the subject in a totally unreasonable fashion.
And here are some already searched and organized lists of winners by various folks: