The Indie Lit Awards!

Fuck awards. This has always been my sentiment. All literary prizes are arbriturary, an attempt of the literary institute to prove to us that literature does have values, even though when asked, they wouldn't really know what.

But then again, some prizes can be fun. The Independent Literary Awards, for instance.

The Independent Literary Awards (the Indie Lit Awards, not to be confused with the Indie Book Awards, which looks like an award for start-up vanity presses) was started by literary blogger Wallace (she has two sites: Unputdownables and Booklife) who saw that literary bloggers were an unrecognized voice in the literary world:

"I noticed that there were all sorts of awards for bloggers regarding HOW they blog, but none for book bloggers...regarding WHAT they read," she says. "Basically, it was an untapped awards section[, c]onsidering book bloggers get the word out about new books in a more consistent way than any other medium..."

In part it is a recognition of a changing atmosphere. Unlike other book awards that are sponsored by institutions and organizations, ILA (I will come up with multiple names for this, in hopes that eventually it will get a nickname that marks the speaker as an insider, the Lammys for example) is made of independent bloggers. Wallace describes it as grassroots: "We are an independent award meaning we are grassroots, not receiving money from authors, publishers, bookstores, etc. We are doing it solely for our love of authors and the printed word."

It is in a way, very radical. The internet has given readers the tool to write about the books they read. This award gives them a chance to pick a book of the year separate from other institutions. When they say Inide Lit Awards, they really mean Indie, a term to be seen separate from indie as in independent press which conjure up images of hipster MFAers sitting outside a Starbucks talking about how much capitalism has screwed up big publishing houses while they take sips of organic coffee feeling envious of that one guy in their class who had just scored a three book deal with Random House (irony is never wasted on this crowd [don't get me wrong, I love small presses, but I just don't like hipsters who love it because of style).

InAwards in the full extent of "indie": not just "literary" works, but Mystery, Spec Fic, GLBTQ lit, and Nonfiction as well (of course, I hate the term genre, but it's nice that this award [like the Lammys] cover a wide range of writing).  It's of course missing some major categories. For example: romance, erotica, poetry, just to name a few, but this is seems to be just the beginning:

"I'm hoping it will be bigger for sure! As the years go by I imagine the word spreading and more bloggers getting involved. That's the main thing: getting bloggers who are willing to serve as judges and panel members, stick it out and be on top of it, conjure enthusiasm, and see it through. The group I have right now is WONDERFUL and they have all been working very hard. We got started late this year, and I hope to get started much earlier next year (as in right after we give out this year's awards... so I will possibly be looking for judges in March). As for categories... if I can get judges (who are in charge of recruiting their own panels) who blog about the category they would like to add to the awards, I am very open to considering any category."

Winners of course won't get anything near that $1,000,000 prize of the Nobel, but Wallace says she hopes the award will show the impact of bloggers:

"What we will contribute is word of mouth. Our short list winners and ultimate winners, in each category, will be showcased on the Indie Lit Award blog as well as all of the blogs of the numerous panel members. Also, we have been in discussion with an online bookseller about displaying those winners on their site and (hopefully) getting a discount on buying those titles if you come from learning about them through the Indie Lit Awards. Again, hopefully getting the word out about these authors and helping them with book sales. We are an independent award meaning we are grassroots, not receiving money from authors, publishers, bookstores, etc. We are doing it solely for our love of authors and the printed word."

In other words, the Indies is a literary award to care about.

Literary bloggers are encouraged to nominate their favorite books (one per category) for the long list. From the long list will come the short list of the top five books. The panel and judges will read these books. Votes will be made. Winners will be named.

So far the nominations are vary, but with less than a month away from the December 15th deadline, trends can be seen. Winners will be announced in February of 2011. Below is the competition thus far:

For more information, visit


  1. Very cool - thank you for spreading the word!

  2. This is awesome!! Thank you for supporting this effort. Wallace is awesome too, isn't she?

  3. I'm glad this year (2011) they agreed to include poetry!