Thursday, August 18, 2011
A blog on publication day.
So what exactly is the RNA award?
The RNA is the UK's Romantic Novelists Association. http://www.rna-uk.org/ It's a broad church open to published authors across the wide spectrum of romantic fiction genres. It embraces mainstream fiction, literary fiction, historical fiction, romantic comedy, contemporary and historical sagas, and even some crime fiction. It also champions category romance including the rich and varied seam belonging to Mills & Boon. The RNA also has an associate membership for industry professionals such as authors, editors and agents. The association has an annual scheme to assist new writers coming through - the New Writers Scheme. This is immensely popular and always over-subscribed. It is responsible for the discovery of new talent, brings new blood regularly into the RNA and has kick started many a stellar career. As well as conferences, famed London parties and seminars, the RNA also has an award for the best romantic novel of the year with sub categories for the best historical novel, the best romantic comedy and the best love story, the latter geared towards category romances where the romance is fully up front. Although the award rulings are subject to change, the above is the gist.
What is terrific about these awards is that the longlist is chosen by ordinary readers. The publishers enter the books for the award (usually several hundred contenders) and they are parcelled up and sent out to volunteers who are not members of the RNA but who are passionate about reading. They score the books according to various criteria based on plot, characterisation, content etc. Each book receives 2 reads and the scores are added up. Top scores go onto the longlist which is then read by RNA members not connected with the award and without novels of their own involved. The books are whittled down to a shortlist of 6 and these are then judged by a panel of industry professionals and a winner announced. Previous judges have included Tim Waterstone, Jenny Murray, Richard Lee, founder of the Historical Novel Society, Janine Cook, head buyer for Waterstones, and novelist Amanda Craig. Previous winners include Rosamund Pilcher, Philippa Gregory, Susan Kay, Freya North, Cathy Kelly and JoJo Moyes. Shortlistees have included Dorothy Dunnett, Joanne Harris and Nicholas Sparks.
This year's awards were announced at champagne reception and canapes event at Number One Whitehall, London - and a brilliant day out it was too. TO DEFY A KING was on two shortlists, and although it didn't win the all categories, was named the winner of the Historical Novel prize - see the sidebar of the blog.
I credit the RNA with keeping me in a job earlier in my career during some very difficult times. Historical fiction was in the doldrums and I was one of the endangered midlist authors. I saw many of my historical novelist colleagues lose their place in publishing. However, the readers kept putting my books through to the shortlist of the RNA awards and this showed my publisher that there was an appetite out there for what I was producing and also, through publicity, it raised reader awareness that bit higher and helped build my platform. TO DEFY A KING is my fifth shortlisting. Since it's out today, I'd like to raise a toast to my publishers, to the novel, to the readers, and to the RNA. Salute!
These are my other, reader-chosen shortlisted novels from previous years.
To celebrate today's publication, I am offering a giveaway of a copy of To Defy a King plus a novel of your choice to one UK reader and one overseas reader. Just drop an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, stating clearly whether you are a UK or overseas entry.
NB. If you've tried and it hasn't worked, I'm sorry. I wrote my address wrong the first time - I put a dot in where there wasn't one (sigh). Anyway, it's fixed now. However, Live can be sensitive, so if you can't get through, leave a message on the blog, or contact me through Twitter or Facebook.