Is it worth the RITA?March 24, 2012
Monday morning, the calls will go out to the finalists for RWA’s equivalent of the Oscars – the RITA award. Due to the rules of this contest, this was the first year I was eligible to enter. Am I expecting a call? HELL NO! Based on previous years’ finalists, my historical paranormal based on Lakota legends doesn’t stand a chance.
Note: If do get a call, fully expect me to go into labor from the shock of it.
The world of publishing is changing faster than RWA can keep up. Based on the current rules, self-published books and digital-only books are not allowed to enter. But if you look at the NYT and USA Today bestseller lists, these type of books are competing neck and neck with traditionally published books for those coveted spots. So as an author, I’m faced with the question of what I want from my career.
As nice as it would be to get that little golden statue one day, I’m not sure that’s the way I want to gauge my success. I’d much rather have “Bestselling Author” above my name than “Rita Award-Winning Author”. Why? Well, for starters, if I’m hitting the lists, it means I’m selling thousands of books, and that means I’m making some serious money. As a career-minded writer, bringing home the bacon is more important than a little gold statue.
And speaking of bacon, the higher royalty rates offered by self-publishing and digital-only publishers mean I’d take home more of the cover price for each book sold than traditional print publishing. Entangled Publishing recently shared the numbers earned by one of their best-selling Indulgence authors – Jennifer Probst. The $51,600 she earned in the first month of publication is far more than most similar category romance writers earn from Harlequin (based on the numbers provided to Brenda Hiatt’s Show Me the Money site). But since the Indulgence line is digital-only, Jennifer’s highly successful book will not be able to enter the RITA (unless Entangled does a special print run for her). Do you think she minds when she’s getting type of royalty check? Of course, I can’t answer for her, but as for me, I wouldn’t be crying about not being able to enter the RITA.
Based on my current contracts and scheduled release dates, I should be able the enter the RITA contest for the next 2 years. But after that, I’m left with the question of “Is it worth the RITA?” Will I continue to pursue publication with print publishers so I can enter the RITA? Or will I opt for the higher royalty rates offered by non-traditional publishing? Granted, not everyone will have Jennifer’s success, but the potential is still there.
What are your thoughts?