One-Minute Book Reviews

February 27, 2007

The Year’s Worst Writing in Books — About the Finalists for the 2007 Delete Key Awards, To Be Announced Tomorrow

Filed under: Book Awards,Books,Delete Key Awards,Reading,Writing — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 4:32 pm

One-Minute Book Reviews will announce the finalists 2007 Delete Key Awards tomorrow morning, Wednesday, Feb. 28. The first book to make the short list will be named at about 10 a.m. with other titles released throughout the day. The full list of finalists will be posted by 5 p.m. Please bookmark this site or subscribe to the RSS to avoid missing the list, and forward this post to others who may be interested.

Questions and Answers About the Delete Key Awards for the Year’s Worst Writing in Books

Why do we need the Delete Key Awards?
When you go bed with a book, you should be able to respect yourself in the morning. Unfortunately, too many publishers don’t realize this.

Who is eligible for a Delete Key Award?
Anybody who has had a book published in hardcover or paperback in the U.S. in 2006, including reprints. One-Minute Book Reviews is the sole judge of when a book was published if there’s a conflict between the official publication date, the on-sale date, the date listed on Amazon.com, or the date when Janice Harayda first saw it in the Port Authority Bus Terminal. That’s the beauty of the Delete Key Awards. They’re completely arbitrary.

Why are the awards for “the worst writing in books” instead of “the worst books”?
The overall quality of a book can involve matters of taste and judgment. The Delete Key Awards recognize bad writing that doesn’t involve those questions. They call attention to such things as clichés, bad grammar, or writing at an elementary-school level according to the readability statistics on Microsoft Word. The listing for each finalist will give an example of the bad writing in the book and explain what’s wrong with it.

How did you select the finalists?
At the end of each review on One-Minute Book Reviews, you’ll find the best and worst lines in the book. The finalists came from the “worst” lines. But all of the selected examples of bad writing are typical of what you’ll find in the book that made the short list. No author became a finalist because of one or two bad lines.

Why are you picking on struggling authors?
First, “struggling authors” is a cliché. Strike it from your vocabulary. Second, I’m not picking on those people. Most of the Delete Key Awards finalists are rich. If they’re not rich, they’re influential.

When will you announce the winner or winners of the Delete Key Awards?
Visitors to One-Minute Book Reviews will be able to comment on the finalists for two weeks, and the winner or winners will be named on March 15. I’m announcing the winner or winners on the Ides of March because Julius Caesar was assassinated then, and some of the finalists have assassinated the English language. I hope to post the best comments from visitors when I announce the winner(s).

Why are you announcing the finalists one at a time instead of all at once?
It will provide more entertainment for people who are bored at work. And there are so many bad writers in the U.S., my site my crash if they all rushed over at once to see if I’d recognized their contributions to American literature.

Why are you qualified to pick the winner of the Delete Key Awards?
One-Minute Book Reviews doesn’t accept free books or other promotional materials from editors, publishers, literary agents, or authors whose books may be reviewed on the site. So the reviews aren’t affected by the marketing considerations that sometimes affect the decisions of others.

I also received more than 400 books a week during my 11 years as the book editor of The Plain Dealer, Ohio’s largest newspaper. These included Knitting With Dog Hair, which is still in print. Critics laughed when the book was published. But Knitting With Dog Hair looks like Madame Bovary compared with some of the book on the list of finalists.

I’m fed up with bad writing in books. How can I support the Delete Key Awards?
First, send a link to this post to people who might like to have it, especially bloggers and media and publishing types. Second, keep visiting my site throughout the day tomorrow, Feb. 28, to see names of new finalists. This could help One-Minute Book Reviews make it onto the list of the “Blogs of the Day” on WordPress, so even more people will see it. The last time I made the list I wrote in a review of For One More Day about my discovery that Mitch Albom is writing at a third-grade level. [Note for overseas visitors: Third-graders in the U.S. are typically eight years old.] That post is archived in the “Novels” category on this site. I’d like to see if I could make it into the WordPress Top 10 on my own without so much help from Mitch.

So is Mitch Albom is a finalist?
You’ll have to check back tomorrow for the answer to that one.

Thanks for visiting One-Minute Book Reviews.

© 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

One-Minute Book Reviews is an independent book-review blog created by Janice Harayda, an award-winning journalist who has been the book columnist for Glamour, the book editor and critic for The Plain Dealer, and a vice-president of the National Book Critics Circle. Please visit www.janiceharayda.com for information about her comedies of manners The Accidental Bride (St. Martin’s, 1999) and Manhattan on the Rocks (Sourcebooks, 2004).

1 Comment »

  1. [...] The awards are compiled by author, journalist and reviewer Janice Harayda. For more info, read the Delete Key Awards FAQ, so you don’t have to ask [...]

    Pingback by 101 Reasons to Stop Writing : » Aside: The Delete Key Awards for the Year’s Worst Fiction — October 30, 2007 @ 7:58 am | Reply


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