I just got my publicity questionnaire from a large house, and I noticed that it doesn't ask questions about specialized publications that might review my book, or specialized awards that my book might be a good candidate for. ("Specialized" meaning specifically related to the topic of the book, as opposed to standard children's lit stuff.) Will they be offended if I share this information? How do I find out if they are willing to follow up on it? Should I give the same info to my editor?Ah, awards. It seems like there are more and more out there.
Also, is it normal that the publicity contact would not want to give the author a list of the reviewers who have been sent advance copies?
I was recently asked by one of my authors to submit her book to an "award" that, upon investigation, we found to cost $200 to enter and which runs out of some RenFair in West Virginia.
That answer was no.
So your answer is: maybe. There are smaller, more specialized awards out there that we wouldn't mind submitting to (the Giverny, for instance). But it depends a great deal on:
1. How much does it cost to put a book in the running? The Newbery, for instance? $0.00. We just send books to the committee.
Some legitimate awards have entrance fees, but an entrance fee does and should always make me think twice.
2. How many people will hear about the winners of the award? Some "award" winners will be noticed only by the 212 other people who submitted a book for one of the 16 different "awards" certain charlatans are giving out. And when the entrants have each paid $200 to enter, I'm guessing the award's organizer is awarding himself a Bahamas vacation.
I also don't care if a small but earnest group of Rocky Mountain hicks wants to give an award. Know who awards mean the most to? Teachers and librarians. Will they hear about the award?
3. How good will such an award sound if we put it on the book jacket or in the marketing materials? "The Podunk Vermont Award for Excellent Depiction of a Bovine" is not something we want to publicize. "The Willa Award for Women Writing the West" sounds a hell of a lot more like something you'd buy, doesn't it?
So no, they won't be offended, but do phrase your email to them in a way that says you're not trying to tell them how to do their jobs. Something along the lines of "Here are some awards you might want to consider entering my book for. Would you let me know which, if any, you decide to pursue? Thanks much, your author." It doesn't hurt to copy your editor on that correspondence.
It's normal that Publicity wouldn't want to give names of reviewers, yes. But which publications they sent review copies to isn't any secret. They're very, very busy, though. If you just haven't heard from them, in my experience it's because they've sent the book to everybody who counts and they don't understand why you can't just wait to see who does or doesn't review your book.
(I know, the waiting is terrible. Authors and the waiting are a bad combination. Keep yourself busy however you can.)