Frequently Asked Questions
About the Storytelling Resource Awards Program
(Responses by Flora Joy, Storytelling World Awards Manager)
The purpose of this page is to respond to the frequently asked questions about the Storytelling World Awards program. If the responses below are not clear to you or if you have additional questions, please e-mail them to Flora at firstname.lastname@example.org. New inquiries (with their responses) will periodically be added to this site.
Should I Nominate My FIRST CD?
Q: I have just produced my FIRST CD, and I realize there are some imperfections in it. Should I nominate it for the Storytelling World Awards program?
A: You have nothing to lose by doing so (except postage and a copy). There have been several "firsts" to receive awards in the past. The judges don't even know (or care) whether the item is your first--or your 81st. Only the quality and appeal of the story content/information are considered. BTW: When you produce your 81st, you might still notice some "imperfections."
Specific Award Categories
Q: I will be submitting a CD containing stories for children, and I would like for ONE of these stories to be considered especially for Category 2 (pre-adolescents). Should I indicate that on my nomination form?
A: For every nominated item that contains more than one story, our judges routinely rate EACH INDIVIDUAL STORY as if it were a separate entry. For example, if you have a CD containing six stories, the judges consider it to be SEVEN ENTRIES--one for each of the six stories and one for the "entire collection." YOU won't need to specify these categories--our judges automatically do that.
When To Send Your Nominations
Q: Why do you require that the nominated resources be sent as soon as they are published?
A: It isn't a requirement to send them as soon as they are published--it's just a request. We are now receiving so many items for this awards program that it is no longer a six-month evaluation period. If we receive items year-round, then our crates of resources can constantly be cycling across the country to the judges, and they won't be overwhelmed when their decision deadline approaches.
Q: What happens if we miss the July 20 deadline by just a couple of weeks?
A: Send them anyway. We always do our BEST to get the resources in the current award cycles, BUT sometimes we are unable to do a late mailing. If not, we will hold your resources until the next year. That will, of course, make it seem like an eternity to you, but there has to be SOME cut-off point. This would only eliminate resources that would no longer fit into the five-year copyright restriction.
How To Mail Your Nominations
Q: Is there anything special we need to remember regarding the actual mailing of our award nominations?
A: Absolutely! Here are several important factors:
--For RECORDINGS that are housed in plastic casings, PAD them VERY CAREFULLY when you prepare them for mailing, or send them in a corrugated box. It would surprise you to know how often we open an envelope and pour out a pile of crumbles from smashed cases. Pretend that your envelope will be DROPPED from a cliff and then stomped on by a buffalo... (well, ALMOST)--and package it accordingly. Do keep in mind, though, that a smidgeon of bubble-wrap inside a regular envelope typically won't prevent the case from crushing. Note: Recordings that arrive with crushed cases are STILL evaluated. Most storytellers, though, want their products to arrive in good condition--and this is a hint for helping that happen.
--ANOTHER MAJOR DELIVERY PROBLEM involves the type of padded envelope that uses compressed "paper dust" for its padding. IF the thin, single-sheet lining of this envelope is nicked or ripped, then those bazillions of paper particles will spill inside your package and float into practically every page of your printed materials. A Storytelling World staff member must then "clean each and every page" (with a dusting cloth or a vacuum), OR we have to mail them to the judges with the ubiquitous paper dust creeping around all the pages. To keep this paper duct out of their lungs, then THEY must clean each page before reviewing the resource. How YOU would evaluate a product if you had to "clean" it first? Of course our judges can certainly "overlook" this problem and STILL give fair assessments (no matter how the resources arrive)--but a simple change in packaging could prevent this.
A REQUEST: Please make sure your RECORDINGS aren't blank before you mail then. It would surprise you just how many are beautifully packaged (etc.), but--oops--there is no content.
Completing the Nomination Form
Q: I will be choosing to list MYSELF as the contact for potential buyers. I have a Ph.D. May I list it after my name?
A: We print ONLY THE NAME when a person is listed as the contact (instead of the publisher). No degrees or other "titles" (Mr. Ms. Mrs. Miss, Rev., etc.) are included. Also eliminated are additional descriptors such as "Master Storyteller Joe Story," "World-Revered Performer Joe Story" (etc.). The same applies to PUBLISHERS' NAMES. We don't print "Inc." or other company extensions. The primary reason (for the latter) is SPACE.
Q: If my resource is "self-published," should I fabricate the name of a "company" so it will sound more impressive and attract more buyers?
A: You're asking for OPINION here, so here is my gut reaction: Absolutely NOT! There is no dishonor in publishing your own material. Also, if you LIST YOUR OWN NAME on the contact line, then more people will hear about YOU. Which would you rather our readers/buyers SEE in print: "Joe Story" or "The Compelling and Adventuresome Oral Tradition Storytelling Publishing Company"? Sometimes these made-up names can sound "cutesy," but the PERFORMER'S NAME is the one that should receive the emphasis (at least in my opinion). We will print what YOU request--unless a loooooong company name is given, in which case it will be abbreviated for our text copy.
If I win, how can I describe my award in my vita?
Q: I have seen winners describe their product as the "BEST" item (recording) of the year. Is this an accurate way to explain these awards?
A: NO. There are SEVERAL accurate ways, and the one we highly recommend goes like this:
"(Title of product) was a Winner in the 20?? Storytelling World Awards Program in the category of (name the category)."
"(Title of product) received an Honor in the 20?? Storytelling World Awards Program in the category of (name the category)."
Describing your a product is "THE BEST" insults the remaining recipients.
Why Didn't My (Storytelling Resource) WIN?
Q: My publisher said that she nominated my last resource for the Storytelling World Awards, but it didn't receive an award. It has received RAVE reviews by others and it actually received an award from a different agency. What's the deal?
A: There are many reasons why some resources don't receive awards in our program:
--First, you should find out if they REALLY WERE nominated. We receive occasional inquiries FROM AUTHORS about their nominations, but when we check our database (which is meticulously manned), their item-in-question isn't listed--meaning that it wasn't actually nominated.
--If a publisher doesn't CLEARLY indicate that the mailed items are for the AWARDS PROGRAM, then the items aren't circulated among the judging committees. Also, some publishers mail us "desk copies," "review copies," etc., for other endeavors sponsored by Storytelling World. Unless the resources are specifically earmarked FOR THE AWARDS PROGRAM with the accompanying nomination information (either the form from our web site or the basic details), then they aren't circulated for award consideration. Therefore, it is certainly possible that they "sent" us a copy of your resource without actually nominating it.
--One way to prevent the above confusion is for YOU to nominate your own material. Many publishers will send extra copies to authors for these purposes; others don't offer this option, but it can't hurt to inquire. When nominated items arrive at the Storytelling World office, an e-mail is sent letting the senders know that the materials have reached us.
--If your resource received an award with another agency and not with ours, this can mean that the AWARD CRITERIA are different for the two groups. Examine the listed criteria for both agencies, then contrast it with the intent of your resource. For example, there have been some fabulous MUSICAL CDs nominated that have better fit other awards programs.
--Unfortunately MANY GREAT resources don't receive awards in our program. If I had ONE MESSAGE that I could send to all tellers and writers who submit these nominations, it would be the following: "Not receiving this award DOESN'T mean your product isn't honorable! Hang in there and continue offering quality products!" Keep in mind that we receive THOUSANDS of stories, books, recordings (etc.) each year, and unfortunately not all of the good ones (or even all of the great ones) can be honored.
Q: I read the list of last year's honored resources, and MY resource [title has been eliminated] was SO much better than several that were featured. I am crushed and disappointed! How is it possible for the judges to pick something like [title has been eliminated] over mine? I just don't understand.
A: Selecting resources to receive an honor isn't as simple as solving a math problem. We are dealing with OPINION. I accept the opinion of the judges and the category committees that make these decisions--even though I know everyone isn't always going to be happy. If you look at ALL the major award programs in our society (the Oscars, the Academy Awards, etc.), we just don't all agree. I recall a time when we were visiting friends during a televised Miss America pageant. By the end of the program three people in the group almost came to blows over WHO should have been the winner. People disagree. Folks' opinions vary. Again, I respect the decisions of our judges and the committees who make these selections.
Judges' Responses to Resources
A: I would like to read the judges' responses to my nominated resource. How can I get that information?
Q: This is a very SIGNIFICANT question, and we certainly understand why people ask it. One of our ORIGINAL reasons for beginning this awards program was to allow writers/tellers to receive (and learn from) the collected opinions of "the professionals." For the first few years, we DID share the judges' comments (ONLY to those who requested them). It didn't take long, however, before we realized that this practice couldn't continue--for many reasons, but here are two: (1) The awesome judges we have recruited and trained have asked that their comments NOT be released. Judges need complete anonymity and privacy in order to do their best job. (2) All judges are currently REQUIRED to give us their BLUNT reactions to the resources they evaluate, and they are NO LONGER asked to include possible comments "for future product improvement" that might be helpful to the serious writer/teller. Therefore, a different method of evaluation is involved, and the information that judges now send is not designed to assist with the production of future publications.
Q: If a story from a CD or in a story collection is selected for an honor, does that mean the judges thought the remainder of the stories "stunk"?
A: No. There are actually MANY reasons why ONE story is selected, with the MAJOR one being that our readers have ASKED us to please identify SPECIFIC stories (in the varying age categories) whenever possible. (It keeps them from having to read an entire anthology when they are desperately looking for a story to tell "tomorrow.") If the remainder of the stories "stunk," then the final evaluation committee would likely eliminate the entire resource.
About Certificates and Seals
Q: If a "story within a collection" is selected for an honor, where should the SEALS be placed?
A: They may be on the OUTSIDE of the resource cover (the same as if the entire resource received the award)-or, actually, anywhere you would like to put them. They don't HAVE to be placed "on the story itself" if it is a printed anthology-although that is certainly an option. They can be in BOTH places, if desired.
Q: WHO can order certificates and seals? Does it HAVE to be the publisher--or, as an author of an awarded resource, can "I" order some? How many certificates can I order?
A: The seals and certificates may be ordered from ANYONE associated with the winning resources (if, of course, they intend to use it in connection with the awarded material). If you are ordering from a PREVIOUS YEAR, be sure to provide the following information with your order: Title of resource, author, YEAR of the honor, the award category, and the honor designation. A staff member then verifies those details and processes your request. Regarding the number you may order, feel free to order some for your great grandmother and all of your relatives if you would like.
Q: What if someone orders the seals who HASN'T actually won an award?
A: The order won't be processed. Our database won't let the order go through if the resources aren't designated as "awarded."
Q: My resource won, but I didn't receive a certificate. In fact, I learned it had won when I read about it in Storytelling Magazine. Why wasn't I notified?
A: The award announcement is sent only to the CONTACT PERSON listed on the nomination form. In other words, the one who SENDS us the resources is the one who RECEIVES the information. We always HOPE that they let the authors/tellers know about these awards, but it is out of our hands once the information is communicated.
Q: Am I required to use the Seals/Certificate order form from your web site before I can order these items?
A: No--just provide the needed information. (But, the form is convenient for our staff to process your request.)
Other Miscellaneous Questions
Q: Flora, do YOU always agree with the judges' decisions?
A: I have ALWAYS been surprised when I get the final list. However, my SURPRISE generally comes because of a resource that would likely have gone "un-honored" without the intense professional scrutiny of our amazing judges. When a story is TOLD, listeners don't see the shiny jacket cover, beautiful liner notes, or glossy pages. The CONTENT of the story carries the message, and it isn't necessarily "improved" (for oral telling) because of beautiful physical packaging (although those qualities are certainly nice!). It is therefore possible for plain-looking resources or relatively unknown tellers to be overlooked by "amateur" evaluators-which is why Storytelling World is honored to have such amazingly magnificent judging talent on board! They always amaze me, and I have always been impressed with the wisdom reflected in their decisions.
Q: I would like to explain the BACKGROUND of my resource to the judges. How can I contact them BEFORE they evaluate my product?
A: Our set-in-stone policy is for our judges to remain anonymous--both because it is THEIR CHOICE and because it just makes good sense. If there is something the judges would need to know, then that information should be incorporated in the printed section of your product.
Q: Why don't you send rejection letters to those of us who DON'T receive an honor? It is horrible to wait until the magazine comes out and then realize we haven't won.
A: Our awards program is not-for-profit, and we currently don't have the funds to hire staff for these extra courtesies. However, you don't really have to wait until the magazine is published to know the outcome. By March of each year, a message is sent to the CONTACT PERSON listed (on the nomination form) for ALL awarded items. Communicate with your contact person for this early information.
Q: Why don't you charge a fee for those who nominate items for the Storytelling World Awards program?
A: I think we would lose some valuable "treasures" if we did. Many storytellers are struggling financially, and I would hate for a monetary shortage to eliminate resources from independent or smaller publishers. The extra dough would help us, but I'm hoping we can hang on much longer WITHOUT a required fee.
Q: How strict is your "five-year" copyright limit?
A: Very. This is cut-and-dried. Either a product has a published copyright date within the last five years or it doesn't. If it doesn't, then it isn't cycled through the evaluation teams.
Q: Do you have a "runners-up" list for honors that could be included in case there are some who refuse to accept their award?
A: So far, no one has refused. Nor do we expect anyone to do so. After all, why would someone take the time and trouble to nominate a resource if he/she didn't look forward to the possibility of the honor?
Q: Why do YOU choose to manage this program year after year after year?
A: Glad you asked. It is THRILLING!! It helps keep my "storytelling brain cells" ALIVE! It allows me the privilege of "getting to know" storytellers I might never have the opportunity to see in person. While I was teaching at ETSU and simultaneously running this program, I didn't have ample time to thoroughly ENJOY these resources. After I retired, I arranged my life so I can now experience these great materials either before or after they are cycled through the judging teams. This is a FABULOUS professional adventure for me, and I enjoy each and every one of the nominated items from one standpoint or another (and, yes, I actually look at ALL of them). Perhaps it's safe to say that I consider this experience to be a taste of "Storytelling Heaven."