Thursday, 23 July 2015


Awards Rescue Writers from Drowning in the Amazon River


Obscurity is the enemy of any author, but for a new author obscurity can often be fatal. An author may have written a wonderful book and yet it could remain lost forever on some virtual bookshelf in the depths of Amazon, ranked at #10,632,301 in sales. When you’re ranked that low, your book might as well be lost at the bottom of the Amazon River. This can be a very dark, scary place for any author. If you think such a place doesn’t exist, think again.

When a new book is introduced to the market, traditionally published authors are less likely to drown in the Amazon River. The traditional publishing houses will at least, in theory, give a new book some exposure in the market in the form of publicity through established channels. But that helping hand often disappears after a month or so and the book is left sink or swim on its own. An independent author, on the other hand, is usually thrown into the water with an anchor as a flotation device. Sinking is the more likely outcome. But in both cases, awards can help rescue a book and an author’s life.

Although awards can be quite subjective, if you’ve earned one as an author then at least one judge or set of judges believes your book has merit and deserves attention. With an award, your book is more likely to be retrieved from the depths of the Amazon River to see the eyes of readers. Awards by themselves won’t trigger the Amazon retrieval bots to show your book the light of day. Only readers can do that and awards are certainly something they might consider in deciding to purchase a book.

As a new independent author, the first award I won was a brand new shiny anchor and I was told to jump into the publishing waters with it. I’m a smart guy and it didn’t take me more than a few months to realize that my anchor wasn’t going to save me as an author. I frantically looked for a lifeline and discovered a number of legitimate award competitions that could help a drowning author.

One I chose to enter was the Independent Book Publishers Associations (IBPA) 27th annual competition. I applied in 2014 and submitted copies of my book for consideration. Named in honor of one of America's most famous authors and printers, the IBPA’s annual Benjamin Franklin Awards recognize excellence in independent publishing. Winning the competition in a category is regarded as one of the highest national honors for independent authors and publishers. This year, there were 1,400 entries judged by 150 professionals from the library, bookstore, reviewer, designer, publicity, and editorial industry segments for both fiction and non-fiction categories.

On April 10, 2015 during the IBPA’s annual conference in Austin, Texas, I was very fortunate to earn two awards in the competition. While I’m proud of finishing first in the “Best First Book: Fiction” category, I’m most proud of finishing second in the 2015 “Best Popular Fiction” category. Because I view Saving Babe Ruth as much more than a baseball book than the title might suggest, I think winning silver in the broad category of “Best Popular Fiction” has been helpful in broadening the potential reading audience.

Based on a true story, the novel is about a run-down lawyer and Civil War buff who decides to save his town’s youth baseball league. His wife and son want him to save the league, but the more he tries to save it, the more he ends up hurting them. At its roots, it’s a story about a family struggling to stay together in a town drowning in secrets and double lives.

The reviews of readers on Amazon, especially the more recent ones, have really brought different themes of the book to life. It’s been something to behold. When you have one reader’s review stating that he despises sports and baseball but he enjoyed the book anyway next to another reader’s review that states that the book is a must read for baseball fans, I think that’s an accomplishment. I believe the award for “Best Popular Fiction” reinforces the idea that the book has appeal to a wide variety of readers and so it’s been very helpful to me as an author.

Going forward, I believe the awards might suggest to potential readers and others that on a good day I can write a good story. I think that earning the recognition has opened new writing, publicity, and marketing opportunities for me to explore.
But at the end of the day, I’m still the same guy I was before. I still put my pants on one leg at a time, though I do think I’m now entitled to take a few seconds longer. In honor of my awards, my family washed the pillow in the family dog house and I’m very grateful to them since that’s where I continue to spend a good portion of my leisure time.


Title: Saving Babe Ruth

Author: Tom Swyers

Genre: Literary Fiction / Thriller / Sports

Based on a true story, Saving Babe Ruth is an award-winning novel about a family headed by David Thompson, a burned-out lawyer and Civil War buff. When he learns that the town's youth baseball league is going to fold, David’s love for the sport and for his son, Christy, inspire him to try to save it for the boys in town. David puts his fading career on hold as he struggles to resurrect this dream while at the same time trying to salvage his marriage to his wife, Annie.

Though Christy and Annie want to see him save the league, David finds himself in way over his head; the more he passionately tries to save it, the more he ends up hurting Christy and Annie. It’s a catch-22 that leaves his family wounded and David lost, wedged between his desire to revive the league so he can live with himself, and the desire to heal his family so they can live with him.

When David starts to keep secrets from Annie to satisfy these desires, he weaves a web of deceit that further fractures the family. At the same time, the town wrestles to keep its own secrets under wraps while it almost bursts with people leading double lives. They want David and the league to fail, and they’ll stop at nothing to get what they want, even if they have to go through Christy and Annie to get it.

With the help of Johnny McFadden--a newfound friend who's addicted to baseball--David concocts a plan to defend the league and his family. The pair will have to navigate through a maze of backroom politics, corruption, scandal and crime that extends to the professional sports world. David will have to call upon all of his legal and survival skills to try and turn things around.

Saving Babe Ruth is also the inspiring story about a baseball team full of teenage outcasts struggling to believe in themselves. When the time is right, they'll face the prospect of having to fight crazy with crazy to save baseball for themselves, their town and beyond.

The novel reveals the underbelly of youth sports that’s hurting communities nationwide today, but readers and reviewers say you don’t have to be a fan of baseball or sports to enjoy the story. Its themes, including one of community responsibility, are beginning to resonate. The story is so powerful that one of the nation’s leading professional sports agents has threatened a lawsuit over the book. The novel has even caused one town to come to a standstill to hold an emergency board meeting over it. Watch this trailer video to learn more about how Saving Babe Ruth came to life.

New York Times bestselling author Margot Livesey says Swyers “has created a man for all seasons” in David Thompson and calls Saving Babe Ruth “an absorbing and compulsively readable novel.”

Saving Babe Ruth is the winner of a number of accolades including the 2015 Benjamin Franklin Book Award for “Best First Book: Fiction.”

If you like fast-paced and humor-laced stories, don’t miss this family’s fight to stay together as it confronts a youth sports underworld loaded with captivating characters.

Amazon Barnes & Noble Apple Kobo Novel Comes To Life Book Trailer Summer Read Book Trailer

Author Bio


Award-winning author Tom Swyers first had an audience on the edge of their seat (and the girls giggling) when his play, The Great Train Robbery, made its debut in the seventh grade.

After high school, he worked his way through some of the best colleges in the country. Employed in a variety of jobs ranging from a late-night convenience store clerk to a fine jewelry salesperson, Tom eventually graduated from college and then worked his way through law school in the caverns of Wall Street.

Since then, he’s studied at the New York State Summer Writer’s Institute at Skidmore College. He’s also a member of both the Authors Guild and the Hudson Valley Writers Guild.

Along the way, he married his high school sweetheart and raised a family. With that came baseball, but that's another story (Saving Babe Ruth). Tom is also an award-winning youth sports advocate.

When he isn’t writing or reading, Tom is usually running (literally) away from trouble on the back roads of Upstate, New York where he lives with his family and two cats (really two dogs working undercover).

Saving Babe Ruth is his first novel and these are some of the awards it has received:

  • Gold Winner, “Best First Book: Fiction," 2015 Independent Book Publishers Association’s Benjamin Franklin Book Awards.

  • Silver Winner, “Best Popular Fiction," 2015 Independent Book Publisher Association’s Benjamin Franklin Book Awards.

  • Reader Views, “Best Regional Fiction 2014/2015: Northeast.”

  • Finalist, "Best New Fiction," 2014 USA Best Book Awards.


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