Flower of Iowa Breaks New Ground Showing Romance Has No Boundaries

Lance Ringel's sprawling WWII gay love story, Flower of Iowa, took home a Gold and Silver at the 2021 Independent Book Publishing Awards Ceremony, breaking new ground for Gay Fiction.


Flower of Iowa received a Gold Medal in the Fiction: Romance Category, becoming the first gay fiction to ever win in the mainstream Romance category.


Watch Lance Ringel's acceptance speech below.


Flower of Iowa received a Silver Medal in LGBTQ+.


Watch Lance Ringel's acceptance speech below.



The Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) celebrated the best in independent publishing for the year 2020 during a series of four virtual ceremonies, May 11-14, 2021. A variety of publishing models were represented, awarding Gold and Silver IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards to traditional publishers, hybrid publishers, university presses, association presses, mission-driven organizations as well as authors publishing their own work.


“We’re publishing model-agnostic” explained IBPA COO Terry Nathan, who administers the awards. “Books should be judged on the quality of the editorial content and their design, and that’s just what the 165 judges for this year’s IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards did. This year’s finalists are some of the best I’ve seen. The world of independent publishing is stronger than ever!”


In all, fifty-five Gold and over one hundred Silver award winners were announced in 55 categories during the four virtual celebrations, sponsored by Ingram Content Group. Over 120 winners submitted home-recorded acceptance speeches in advance (not knowing if they would win Gold or Silver), and all speeches were included in the short category-specific videos.


The 33rd Annual IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards program had three volunteer judges for each category, adding up to 165 librarians, booksellers, and design and editorial experts, most of whom have decades of book industry experience. Judging books published in 2020, the judging process took seven months, beginning in September 2020 and continuing into March 2021.


By promoting the excellence of Independent publishing, providing feedback to build that excellence, and the marketing boost of an awards program that is regarded as one of the highest national honors for independent publishers, the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards program upholds IBPA’s three-part mission: to lead and serve the independent publishing community through advocacy, education, and tools for success.


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