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Blogger-Given Awards Are Here to Stay (On the Indie Lit Awards)

Wallace Yovetich

Staff Writer

Wallace Yovetich grew up in a home where reading was preferred to TV, playing outside was actually fun, and she was thrilled when her older brothers weren’t home so she could have a turn on the Atari. Now-a-days she watches a bit more TV, and considers sitting on the porch swing (with her laptop) “playing outside”. She still thinks reading is preferable to most things, though she’d really like to find out where her mom put that old Atari (Frogger addicts die hard). She runs a series of Read-a-Longs throughout the year (as well as posting fun bookish tidbits throughout the week) on her blog, Unputdownables. After teaching for seven years, Wallace is now an aspiring writer. Blog: Unputdownables Twitter: @WallaceYovetich

In the fall of 2010, I started wondering why there weren’t more awards (for books) given by bloggers. There are Christian Fiction awards and Children’s book awards given, but no others (that I could find).  In an age where book blogging has gained momentum as the marketing tool of choice for publicists, why so few awards given by the very people who love books so much they write about them… often for free?! So, I thought about it, asked a few of my blogging friends if they’d be on board to be judges, and off we went. It was hard to choose a name. I had no idea where these awards would be five years from then; would they be solely blogger given awards? Would we incorporate regular readers as well? Therefore I didn’t want to include “blogger” or “people’s choice” in the name. Instead, I chose Independent Literary Awards – thinking it would be clear that the awards were given by an independent group of people (not paid by the publishing industry) to literary works. I had not thought of the fact that people would then associate us with indie presses and indie bookstores (with which we are not in association with, though we do, of course, accept nominations by indie publishers) — ahhh, hindsight how we love thee.

The first year we opened nominations to bloggers only, and created teams of judges filled with bloggers. This time, we opened the nominations to all readers, but kept the judging panels filled with only bloggers. We have just announced our Short Lists (which are stated below) and the judges are in the process of reading and discussing the books. In mid-March, we will announce the winners in all seven genres – and if we’re as lucky as we were last year, we’ll publish interviews with the winning authors.

What have I learned through the process of running these awards? Writers are truly cognizant of what bloggers do to help them achieve success. For the most part, they are excited about the awards and thankful to be acknowledged by readers. Out of all of the authors who’ve made it to the Short Lists in these two years, there have been only a couple who have not responded to us in any way (I could tell you who, but I won’t… you could probably guess by yourself). Even other prize winners (Pulitzer prize winner included) have e-mailed me exclaiming how honored they are to be chosen by the people who trek to the bookstore to buy their books, or choose them to feature on their blogs, or make them into their book club’s pick for discussion. The writers who write for readers are truly grateful, and the ones who write for themselves (or the paycheck) — they’ll get their accolades with or without us; we aren’t holding our breath for the excited e-mail. We do hope you’ll follow along and check out some of the titles below for yourself. And we hope that you’re starting to keep track of  your reading for this year (works published in 2012), because they will be eligible for nomination once we open back up in the fall/ winter of 2012.

A big thank you to the readers and bloggers (and websites– ahem, BookRiot) who consistently spread the word about the works that they love. And a big thank you for the writers who still write for the readers… we know who you are, and we’re grateful.

For more information about the Independent Literary Awards (Indie Lit Awards), or about how to get involved, please visit the website.

2011 Short Lists

Biography/ Memoir

  • Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua (Penguin)
  • Bossypants by Tina Fey (Reagan Arthur Books)
  • I Pray Hardest When Being Shot At by Kyle Garret (Hellgate Press)
  • Little Princes by Conor Grennan (William Morrow)
  • Tolstoy and the Purple Chair by Nina Sankovitch (Harper)


  • Well With My Soul by Gregory Allen (ASD Publishing)
  • Swimming to Chicago by David Matthew Barnes (Bold Strokes Books)
  • Songs for the New Depression by Kergan Edwards-Stout (Circumspect Press)
  • Nina Here Nor There: My Journey Beyond Gender by Nick Krieger (Beacon Press)
  • Huntress by Melinda Lo (Little Brown Books for Young Readers)


    • Dance Lessons by Aine Greaney (Syracuse University Press)
    • Cross Currents by John Shors (Penguin Group: NAL Trade)
    • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (Knopf/Doubleday Publishing Group)
    • Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill)
    • The Last Time I Saw Paris by Lynn Sheene (Penguin Group)


    • Missing Daughter, Shattered Family by Liz Strange (MLR Press)
    • The Cut by George Pelecanos (Reagan Arthur/LIttle, Brown)
    • A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny (St. Martin’s Press)
    • The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes by Marcus Sakey (Dutton)
    • Fun & Games by Duane Swierczynski (Mulholland Books/Little, Brown)


    • Berlin 1961 by Frederick Kempe (Putnam Adult)
    • In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson (Crown)
    • Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff (Harper)
    • Physics of the Future by Michio Kaku (Doubleday)
    • The Social Animal by David Brooks (Random House)


    • Beyond Scent of Sorrow by Sweta Vikram (Modern History Press)
    • Catalina by Laurie Soriano  (Lummox Press)
    • What Looks Like an Elephant by Edward Nudelman  (Lummox Press)
    • Three Women: A Poetic Triptych and Selected Poems by Ramos, Emma Eden  (Heavy Hands Ink)
    • Sonics in Warholia by Megan Volpert (Sibling Rivalry Press)

    Speculative Fiction

    • A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (Candlewick)
    • The Magician King by Lev Grossman (Viking)
    • 11/22/1963 by Stephen King (Scribner)
    • Among Others by Jo Walton (Tor Books)
    • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (Crown)


    Wallace Yovetich reviews an eclectic mix of literature spanning from graphic novels to classic literature on her book blog, Unputdownables. Follow her on Twitter: @BookishWallace