Winning a Literary Award May Hurt Your Book Sales

Can winning a major literary award actually boost your book sales? Few of us would think that it can do otherwise – i.e., hurt the selling potential of a book. Yet an interesting study published last month seems to support this connection.book award

Alison Flood’s story in The Guardian informs of a paper published in Administrative Science Quarterly, according to which winning a notable literary award is likely to bring more bad reviews and thorough criticism of the winning author’s book. And this in turn works toward bringing down the sales of the books by the author.

The study compared 32 pairs of books on the popular book-related website GoodReads.com and found a significant plunge in ratings for books that had won any prestigious literary or book award as against those that were nominated for a prize but didn’t claim it.

Is it competition, jealousy, or just over-sensitivity created by the buzz of an award with a book or its author that result in more negative reviews on social media and review sites? Whichever one or combination of these factors, the fact that an award can work against book sales is a bit paradoxical for most authors. In the end though, it’s the author’s view that counts whether a book is a success or failure.

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