In a nutshell, earlier this month, the National Book Foundation contacted Amulet Books, "Shine's" publisher. I wish I could have been a fly on the wall. The conversation may have gone something like this:
NBF: A book you've published has been nominated as a finalist for the National Book Award in Young People's Literature.
Amulet Books: Outstanding! Which title?
Amulet Books:Lauren Myracle's coming-of-age mystery about a Southern community dealing with homophobia and the fallout from a hate crime?
NBF: That's it.
Amulet Books: Brilliant! We can't wait to tell Lauren. Thank you so much for your call.
General celebrating, hooping & hollering commences. Because, really, how often does one's book get into the Top Fr%&@king 5 Books of the Year? In the words of every Oscar nominee:
"It doesn't matter whether you win or not. It's an honor just to be nominated."This week, however, the National Book Foundation "regrets that an error was made" and "apologizes for any confusion or hurt it may have caused Lauren Myracle." Imagine what a fly might have overheard on that call:
NBF: When we last spoke, I was calling to congratulate you for publishing a book that was a finalist for the National Book Award.
Amulet Books: Thank you. We are honored.
NBF: Yes. Well. You're not.
Amulet Books: I beg your pardon?
NBF: We regret that we called you in error. The book that's really nominated is "Chime."
Amulet Books: "Chime." Not "Shine."
NBF: Right. "Chime." By Franny Billingsley. No hate crimes in it. Witches. Spirits. Spells. Golden eyes. Tawny hair. That sort of thing."Chime" is in. You're out.
Amulet Books: How. Did this. Happen?
NBF: (chuckling) It's a funny story.
Amulet Books: ...???
NBF: The judges misunderstood the book title when it was read over the phone. Kai thanx bai.
Stunned silence reigns.
Good grief. Talk about a "pay no attention to the man behind the curtain" moment in publishing.
So let me get this straight: For the National Book Awards, the titles of the finalists are read to the judges over the phone.
Just the titles? Not title and, oh -- I don't know -- author? Or title and synopsis? Or (work with me here) title and publisher? Just the titles.
This could cause significant problems. Imagine, for instance the confusion that could arise over hearing that "Double Shadow" was nominated. "Which book would that mean?" the judges might ask.
|Sooo many "Double Shadows."|
That's not sarcasm. It's solid business advice that the National Book Foundation might do well to consider. Write it down. You're the NBF, for heaven's sake. You promote the printed word.
Perhaps I'm being too harsh here. What's your take on the situation? Chime in below...