The Anatomy Of An Award Winning Novel w/Elissa Gabrielle

“Great, big, serious novels always get awards. If it’s a battle between a great, big, serious novel and a funny novel, the funny novel is doomed.”

Neil Gaiman

In the creative and athletic community there’s always been a never ending debate about the importance of awards, milestones and accolades to the success and viability of a career. Because of this debate seeds of doubt have been placed in the heads of various musicians, authors, filmmakers and athletes around the world. If a novel doesn’t hit the New York Times bestsellers list, can it be considered legendary and game-changing? If a player isn’t a part of a championship team in the NBA or NFL do they deserve to be heralded as one of the game’s greats?

As public figures in this current generation, we all long for love and support from legions of dedicated fans. When we don’t achieve these goals, our insecurities start to manifest themselves. Art, at its base form, was an outlet for artistic expression. The concept of commercialism has instead left us with a diluted form of art only made for monetary gain. How far have we progressed as a society when even the tools we use to craft our voice and define ourselves become dictated by the ruthless public court of opinion?

The above fact doesn’t mean that winning an award for your body of work isn’t an impressive feat. In fact, it can make careers and cement you as a legend in your particular field. As a rookie in the publishing world, I only wish to see The Diary Of Aaliyah Anderson and my other novels celebrated and given the highest honors in the literary community. But how would I go about doing that? Is it an uphill battle? Is there something that I need to do differently or am I on the right track?

ElissaGabrielleBronzeHeadshotRecently I spoke with Elissa Gabrielle, an award-winning author and entrepreneur in her own right. Peace In The Storm Publishing, her company, took home the best independent publishing house award at the African-American Literary Awards ceremony from 2009 to 2011. She also won the self-published author of the year award for her novel A Whisper To A Scream and In The Heat Of The Night. Not to mention that her story The Other Side Of Midnight was featured in the Zane’s Busy Bodies: Chocolate Flava 4 anthology. She imparted her knowledge about the publishing industry and the true importance of an award to your author platform.

Randall:  In your opinion, what differentiates an award-winning novel from others in its same genre?

Elissa Gabrielle: The difference lies in the attention to quality story telling. Awards are given in the literary field for varying reasons; but in order to be considered for an award—no matter what category the award is given in—the measurement of literary excellence boils down to the ability to tell a good story. For some awards, that is based solely on book sales; and in others, it equates to the quality of the words and the mental visual connection made with a reader. Award-winning novels are the ones that go the extra mile beyond others in its genre. Award-winning novels are the ones that, in one form or another, form a bond with a reader beyond the minimum, the average, or the norm.

Randall: What makes a novel an award winner, the content or the high consumer visibility?

Elissa Gabrielle: First and foremost, any award given to an author is an honor; the recognition alone signifies something of importance. The yard stick used to measure its worth is decided by the one giving the award; but from the recipient’s point of view, the honor lies solely in receiving the recognition for their work. Whether the award is given based on content or book sales, it still is an honor bestowed upon a writer that has stepped beyond other books in the same genre. Whether by content of the words published, or by the ability to make readers yearn for those words at a volume that surpasses others in the form of books sold, the virtue of an award winner lies not solely in content or volume, but in the ability to cultivate the craft of writing to an extent that it becomes noteworthy by others.

Keep in mind, I have no agent, or a publicist, and I am an independent and I’m not signed to a major publishing house. Everything that has been done for me and my writing career has come from blood, sweat, years, tears and overcoming fears. Having said that, I don’t believe I fall into the category of high consumer visibility because of those reasons stated, therefore I can only rely on the quality of content I provide to my readers. It means a lot to me, to have the respect of the people who take the time out of their lives to read my work. I must honor the craft.


Randall: Building off of the previous question, should an author go for the acclaim that writing an award winning novel garners or the monetary gain and commercial success that a bestselling novel brings you?

Elissa Gabrielle: While all authors or most at least, desire the fame and fortune dreamed of in the realm of being an award winning or best-selling author, the true acclaim that should be sought by an author is in using their God-given talent to its full potential to the best of their ability. Our rewards as authors should come in doing what we were created to do. Acclamation should just be a bonus. When we focus on the Zane anthology (resized)gift of writing like it should be done, all of the other things will naturally fall into place. The focus should be on the craft…not in the prize. Additionally, expectation is usually the root of all heartache. If you put yourself in a situation like that, you could be disappointed and then you make the work about the awards and acclaim and not about the work itself. I try not to have those expectations.

Randall:  An author now has an award-winning novel in his portfolio. What should be their next move?

Elissa Gabrielle: To continue to write. And to write with substance and quality. An author should use the awards and titles given to them to promote themselves because they can be beneficial in helping them market themselves as a brand…but that title should never be an excuse to procrastinate, become lackadaisical in their writing skills or to become content in their status concerning their craft. Every author is only as good as their latest novel/book/story. A true author should learn how to use awards and recognition to promote the latest novel in a way that it is not their last. Certainly add it to your literary resume and line of achievements but I live by the motto that I take my work, but never myself too seriously.


Randall: What other projects do you have coming up?

Elissa Gabrielle: So grateful to have two novels releasing in 2015, in addition to a short story series and anthology collaboration.

Randall: By the time this article is published, it will be read by many young people. What is your message to them?

Elissa Gabrielle: If I could turn back the hands of time and talk to a younger version of myself, knowing what I know now…I would remind myself that dreaming big is the only type of dreaming that should be done. Failure is not the end of anything…it is only the beginning. Success is not a ceiling; it is an opening for more to come. We are only as big as our egos and as little as our self-imposed limitations, and at the end of the day…we should never take either too seriously. All we should do is dare to dream.

You can keep up with Elissa Gabrielle at:

We came, we saw, we conquered! My debut publishing effort “Riverview High: Circumstances” reached #2 on the Amazon charts! Check it out on Amazon today. Don’t forget to leave a review!

“The Diary Of Aaliyah Anderson” is dropping this month!

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