What awards did (and didn’t do) for my career
Remaining calm, I took out a pen, crossed out the offending C, then began doing what anyone in my position would do: get nervous.
Now competing in the hundred-yard stomach jump: Howard Schrier!
Amazingly, by evening’s end, I was holding my first
The feeling was amazing. I had devoted four years of my life to my debut thriller, Buffalo Jump, had quit a secure, well paying job to finish it. To have it not only published by Random House Canada, but named best first novel by the Crime Writers of Canada had me soaring.
The same was true the following year when High Chicago won the
So what has capturing these awards done for my writing career?
Some things but not others.
There is no doubt it raised my profile among Canadian crime writers and fans. I began to receive more invitations to read, sign books, take part in panels. Calls came in from Sisters in Crime, Bloody Words, Durham’s Dark Lit Festival, Word on the Street, Scene of the Crime and other organizations and event planners. I was invited to contribute to blogs such as this one. My name appeared in dozens of Canadian newspapers from coast to coast as wire services picked up the Crime Writers’ news release on the winners. E-mails poured in from friends and fans. There were even cash awards from sponsors Book City and
What winning did not seem to do was have a major impact on my book sales.
Oh, there was a flurry at first. When High Chicago won, the rankings of both my books on amazon.ca soared to the top and stayed quite high—for a week or two—before returning to earth, along with my spirits.
Okay, that was just amazon. What about bricks and mortar booksellers? Did readers stream in to scoop up the
One reason the awards didn’t jack up my sales may have been that both books had already been out for nearly a year when the winners were announced; maybe most people who wanted to buy them already had.
There’s also the question of how well known the
And as we all know, publishers have fewer resources these days to throw at author promotion. In better times, they might have done more to capitalize on awards like the Arthurs, leverage them into interviews and appearances. Today it’s mainly up to the author to promote their work and achievements. Which I did. I emailed everyone I know about the awards, posted the results on my web site, blogged here and there.
But that initial light flurry aside, sales didn’t jump enough to make a noticeable difference. Which is not to say it won’t happen in the future to deserving winners.
The bottom line for me is I could not be prouder of these awards. Whatever else I accomplish in my career, nothing will equal the thrill of winning them, especially the first, because you’re only eligible for that once. The wonderful wooden statuettes occupy a prominent place on my mantle and always will. To me they embody the respect of my fellow Canadian crime writers and that is incredibly important to me.
Plus my name is spelled right on both.
Howard is a two-time winner of the
Arthur Ellis Award for excellence in Canadian crime writing. His debut thriller, Buffalo Jump, which introduces Toronto investigator Jonah Geller, won the Arthur for Best First Novel of 2008. The sequel, High Chicago, was named Best Novel of 2009.
The finalists for the 2011
Tickets for the 2011 Arthur Ellis Awards Banquet, June 2, 2011are on sale now.