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Discussion Starter #1
OK, I need the collective wisdom of KB here because I have a quandary.

One of my authors, Peter A. Balaskas, submitted his short story collection In Our House: Tantalizing Tales of Terror to the Writer's Digest Self-Publishing Awards. When he first asked about it, I told him I didn't think it would qualify as the book was not self-published (we did the editing, formatting, cover art, distribution, marketing, etc. etc. on our dime. Peter never paid one penny). I told him that he was free to enter the book in any awards he wanted, but that he may want to clarify with them in advance because it could cause problems if he placed or won. I didn't want him to spend money on something that he didn't qualify for.

Peter confirmed with the folks at the Writer's Digest Self-Published Awards and they told him he could still enter. (Make of that what you will).

Peter sent me an email to let me know that while he didn't place, he did get high scores and some great feedback. See below (scoring was on a scale of 1-5):

Structure and Organization: 4

Grammar: 5

Production Quality and Cover Design: 4

Plot (if applicable): 3

Character Development (if applicable): 4

What did you like best about this book?

The writing is sophisticated and sparkles with this author's passion for telling a suspenseful tale. The book is well structured in the way the atmosphere in these eight stories is established early on, allowing the characters and the unexpected plot twists to develop believably and yet always achieving the author's intention. The author writes engaging narratives of an interesting assortment of believable characters, and the paranormal elements are well integrated. These various characters are, individually and collectively, certainly strong enough to carry this volume of tales, which prompts the reader's interest in always wanting to know what will happen next; a most exciting thriller in the tradition of Stephen King and Dean Koontz.
So this is my problem. On one hand, I would be stupid NOT to use this quote in marketing material. It's a strong endorsement for the book. On the other, the book was not self-published, making it awkward to use a quote from the "Writer's Digest Self-Publishing Awards."

I could just use the quote and cite Writer's Digest as the source without mentioning the contest. But for some reason that doesn't feel right to me. But as usual, I may be overthinking it.

Thoughts?
 

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Personally, I don't think it is dishonest to use it and just show "Writers Digest" as the source because it was from them.
 

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Caddy beat me to it. All's fair in love, war, and marketing. I'd go ahead and include it. It's legitimate. Just attribute the quote to Writer's Digest and leave it at that. Doesn't matter WHY they made the quote.
 

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I disagree with the last comment.  I think it does matter why they made the quote.  This was clearly not meant as marketing material but rather as feedback and unless I had permission to use it for marketing purposes I would not do so.

-Joe
 

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Bards and Sages (Julie) said:
I could just use the quote and cite Writer's Digest as the source without mentioning the contest. But for some reason that doesn't feel right to me. But as usual, I may be overthinking it.
I'd check with Writer's Digest first. I entered a book a few years ago and got some fantastic comments...and wanted to use them somehow. I contacted them and they stated that I could attribute the comments to "Judge, Writer' Digest Self-Published Book Awards" but not directly to the magazine itself.
 

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Julie,  Everyone who has had interaction with you knows you to be an ethical person.  Yours is one of the strongest voices here on doing the right thing.  :)  So, if you get permission and it feels right to you inside, then you can't go wrong.

I don't think readers care as much as we do, about the semantics of self-published, e-published, trade published, independently published etc.  I think it would be good for you, the author, and judging by the great comments, the reader as well.  :)
 

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Jnassise said:
I disagree with the last comment. I think it does matter why they made the quote. This was clearly not meant as marketing material but rather as feedback and unless I had permission to use it for marketing purposes I would not do so.

-Joe
Nah, once they hit the send button, the thing can be used in any way you want. But, some of the posters who say it should be attributed to the proper place are right, otherwise it would be the equivalent of attributing something Krauthammer says in a NYT editorial to the Times itself.
 

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Wow. That's a wobbler. Here's what I would do: Wait a week. Try not to think about it. Sometime when you're making coffee or running an errand, the answer may come to you. It may not sound like much of a strategy, but it often works for me.

vrabinec said:
attributing something Krauthammer says in a NYT editorial to the Times itself.
Semantics here, I'm pretty sure I understand what you're saying, but the words are important to me. An editorial is written by a member of the editorial page staff and is indeed the newspaper's opinion as formed by the editorial board (or some variation thereof). Charles K. writes an opinion column for the op-ed page, right? So that's not the newspaper's opinion; he doesn't write editorials to my knowledge. However: Any facts stated in his column have been read by editors and if it is found false, the newspaper will publish a correction.
 

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I'm more caught up in the "Plot (if applicable)" part.

*stops writing stories with a plot*

Also, I vote for having HIM contact them to ask if he can use the feedback as a quote.
 
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Discussion Starter #12
Caitie Quinn said:
I'm more caught up in the "Plot (if applicable)" part.

*stops writing stories with a plot*
lol

Most of these awards have a standardize form used for all categories. So you use the same form to judge a coffee table photo book that you do a political thriller (thus why it says "if applicable" next to character development as well.). I judge for the IBPA Ben Franklin awards (not in genres I publish) and even when I do a non-fiction category it will often have a "plot" place where I just put N/A because it doesn't apply. ;D

Maybe I'll ask Peter for the email for the rep that told him it was OK for a small press book to be entered as a self-pub book in the first place. Assuming this is a standard practice this can't be the first time the question has come up, right? If I contact the guy directly, at least I can word the question in a way that I'll get a straight answer (because I don't want hm to tell Peter one thing and then the higher powers at WD tell me something else after the fact.)
 

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I'd let it go. The very first rule of this contest:

1. The competition is open to all English-language self-published books for which the authors have paid the full cost of publication, or the cost of printing has been paid for by a grant or as part of a prize.

The book is in violation of that rule. Using the quote is a bit like advertising the fact that it went in under false circumstances.

I really think the person who told him it was okay was wrong--we see this happen with Amazon customer service all the time. Ask on different days, get different agents, get different answers. Or perhaps they don't discourage those entries because they get the entry fees, but the books don't have any chance of winning. Writer's Digest isn't exactly a paragon of ethical virtue when it comes to the money they'll accept for things like ads, for instance.

Even the judge's comments have to be taken in the context that he/she believed it to be a self-published book, and it wasn't.

I'd let it go. :-\
 
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Discussion Starter #14
OK I'm confused.

If he didn't pay to publish, then he is not self-published?

Who paid to have it published?

 
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Discussion Starter #15
Okey Dokey said:
OK I'm confused.

If he didn't pay to publish, then he is not self-published?

Who paid to have it published?
THAT was actually part of my point in the first post. When Peter initially asked me about the contest, I told him I didn't believe the book qualified because it was not self-published. I paid all of the bills. I pay him royalties. I actually need to see if I can find the original email from last year. But apparently WD told him it was OK since we're a micro press. Which, like Shelley, I believe was the wrong answer. But I'm Peter's publisher, not his mother. And if he wants to enter a contest I can't physically stop him.
 

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shelleyo1 said:
I'd let it go. The very first rule of this contest:

1. The competition is open to all English-language self-published books for which the authors have paid the full cost of publication, or the cost of printing has been paid for by a grant or as part of a prize.

The book is in violation of that rule. Using the quote is a bit like advertising the fact that it went in under false circumstances.

I really think the person who told him it was okay was wrong--we see this happen with Amazon customer service all the time. Ask on different days, get different agents, get different answers. Or perhaps they don't discourage those entries because they get the entry fees, but the books don't have any chance of winning. Writer's Digest isn't exactly a paragon of ethical virtue when it comes to the money they'll accept for things like ads, for instance.

Even the judge's comments have to be taken in the context that he/she believed it to be a self-published book, and it wasn't.

I'd let it go. :-\
If I'd entered the contest I'd be pretty miffed if I discovered that this book had been accepted and I was competing with a book that had been professionally published. I think it could come back to bite the author if the quote is used.
It's a pity, but I'd be careful about using it :p.
 
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Discussion Starter #17
Jan Hurst-Nicholson said:
If I'd entered the contest I'd be pretty miffed if I discovered that this book had been accepted and I was competing with a book that had been professionally published. I think it could come back to bite the author if the quote is used.
It's a pity, but I'd be careful about using it :p.
This is probably the biggest root of my angst. WD NEVER should have told him it was OK. I don't fault Peter for looking for as many opportunities as possible for himself. He likes to enter competitions and he's won several awards for his work. In my heart, Peter is so ridiculously talented that he deserves every single accolade he gets and I feel an obligation to make the best use of anything he earns to promote his work. My obligation to him as his publisher is to use every tool presented to me to get his work out there. But I also think it was wrong of WD to accept trade published books into the contest, regardless of the size of my company. Maybe in their brain, micro-presses are little different from self-publishing, or they consider micro press books equally deserving of airtime. I can't imagine this was a mistake on the part of a customer service person. That would be like calling Amazon and asking if it was OK to publish a PLR book to Kindle and being told "yes". But you are right, if a self-publisher is actually competing with small press published books in a self-publishing awards program, there is reason to be mad.

But at least I can take solace in the fact that he got a FIVE for grammar. ;D
 

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I don’t see an issue if WD approved the submission knowing it was small-press published. The fact that their definition of “self-published” includes small presses is irrelevant.

If the possibility of negative fallout bothers you, include a short qualifier somewhere; e.g., “Writer’s Digest Self-Publishing Awards (which includes small-press books)...”


 

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The only way to be certain of avoiding problems would be to walk away from this situation.

You don't need the quote that badly. If you decide to leave it alone you will be able to quickly forget the whole situation. If you use it you will always be wondering if it is going to come back to haunt you. Not worth it.
 
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