Thursday, August 7, 2008
INTERVIEW WITH NANCY FARRIER-Coordinator for FHL's IRCC Contest
I had the privilege of working with Nancy when I was a category coordinator for Faith, Hope and Love's Inspirational Reader's Choice Contest (IRCC) a couple of years ago. Nancy has agreed to guestblog with us today. Here is an interview with Nancy:
1. How did you get into coordinating FHL's contest?
Jeri Odell was the first coordinator for the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Contest. She and I belonged to the same critique group and were both members of FHL. She asked me to be a category coordinator, which I did. When Jeri stepped down, she recommended me as the contest coordinator, since I had been involved every year. I wasn’t sure I would be able to do this. I’m not a very organized person, but Jeri helped a lot, as did Sunni Jeffers and Robin Lee Hatcher.
2. What's your favorite part of coordinating the contest?
I think my favorite part is calling the finalists. They are always so excited. You can hear the trepidation in their voice until they find out who is calling and why. Then, they are very excited. Often, I’ve called when the author is at a low point, and God uses the call to encourage them. That is always rewarding.
I also enjoy seeing all the books entered. I love books: the titles, the premises, the different genres—all these things are fascinating to me.
We have a unique contest, in that it is only for Inspirational fiction, anyone may enter, not just FHL members, and the contest is judged by readers of Inspirational fiction. There are some authors who read for us, but I try to encourage only readers, not writers, to judge. This gives a way of seeing how actual readers view the books.
3. What advice would you have for anyone considering a contest coordinator position?
Be sure you have the time. The IRCC is almost a full year position. I start getting ads ready in September or October because of the lag time for the RWA magazine coming out. Also, I have to get the changes made for the next year’s contest by December. Then, the contest really takes off in January and lasts until the awards are given out in July. I really have only a couple of months off.
Also, I don’t know about other contest coordinators, but I put in a lot of time emailing past entrants to see if they want to enter again. I also contact editors from all the publishing houses to see if they want to enter their author’s books, or to suggest they can encourage their authors to enter. Many publishers choose to do that.
A coordinator must be able to deal calmly with a multitude of problems. Be prepared to spend time in prayer asking for wisdom, etc. Every year there has been a new challenge. I love to see how God works everything out to His glory. He teaches me something new every year.
4. What advice to you have for potential entrants?
Be sure to read the rules and follow them. Every year, I have at least one entrant who doesn’t do that and their error usually means I have to ship books elsewhere for them. Also, consider the categories and where your book fits the best. It’s so important to be in the right category.
5. What advice do you have for potential judges?
As I mentioned earlier, I prefer judges who don’t write, but love to read Inspirational fiction. If you are an author and have a fan base with some who love fiction, I would suggest you email them and send them to the FHL loop to sign up. Please, if you want to judge, be aware of the timing. Every year we get those who sign up and then have forgotten or changed their minds when the actual time arrives. Look at the dates to see if they work for you. I do understand that sometimes emergencies come up. One year I had a judge who had an unexpected surgery and couldn’t judge. We do understand things like that.
Also, be aware of when you’re score sheets are due and get them in on time. Make sure the books you’re getting are of a length that you can read in the allotted time.
6. How do you think contests benefit those who enter, as well as their chapter?
It is always nice to win and have that to add to your resume. However, not that many win. This year we had 130 entries, 22 finalists and 7 winners. If you look at it from that perspective, then the contest isn’t a great idea.
I always try to tell people to consider this an outreach for new readers. Many of our judges belong to churches and share their books with other ladies in the church. Many of them put the books in the church library. You are reaching more than just four readers with your entry. Word of mouth is still the leading way to sell books and entering the IRCC can be a great way to spread the word about your books.
One of my favorite stories to demonstrate this happened years ago when I was a category coordinator. One of the books arrived and my daughter fell in love with the cover. The book was historical and she wanted to read it so much, she bought the book. She was only fourteen or fifteen at the time, so this was a major expense for her. She ended up buying all four of the books in that series and still has them. I have no idea how many people she’s told about the author and the series. She’s been a great salesman for this author’s books, and she wasn’t even old enough to be a judge, so she wasn’t involved in the contest. Imagine, how a judge would impact your books or sales.
As for your chapter, publishers take note of contests. When I was at the RWA conference in San Francisco, there were several editors I had never met, who knew the contest I coordinated. They pay attention and that is good for your members. The contest brings notice to our FHL group.
7. When does next year's FHL kick off?
The IRCC opens in December, although it’s best to enter in January. I usually don’t have my category coordinators in place until early January because everyone is getting ready for Christmas and the whole season is so hectic. Many authors do prefer to enter in December and then send their books in January after I email them instructions.
Nancy, thank you for joining us today!
Thank you for asking me to do this. I’d love to answer any questions you have.