Hey, kids! I was going to post an Eek! today, but since Mary already did on Monday, I'll just keep that in my back pocket for now. In a way Mary did me a favor because there was something else I wanted to talk about...and also to ask you a favor.
As the end of the year approaches, it means one thing in the literary community: awards season. I mean, also NaNo. And also the Christmas push. And also that thing in Iceland where literally everyone buys books. But I digress. One of the things it means is awards season.
Now, I can only come at this from the perspective of the horror community, but hopefully through the power of synecdoche you can get an idea of what awards season is like for the other genres as well. Since everybody loves a listicle, here's one of those.
1.) Blogger and Reviewer Best Ofs
Last year I was absolutely flattened when awards season came. BRAINEATER JONES was named one of the Top 5 Horror Reads of 2015 on Confessions of a Reviewer, one of the best horror reads of 2015 on Hey Said Renee, and the best read of 2015 by Horror Made. All this in spite of being released in 2013. :) But that's fine. When it comes to reviewer awards, it's what they read that year.
Winning blogger awards is really cool and definitely good for your self esteem. You can also include it in your editorial reviews on Amazon. (You do know how to update your editorial reviews on Amazon, right? If not, this video should get you pointed in the right direction.)
What they probably won't do is push sales or get you noticed by an agent. There are actually very, very few review sites who will get you sales based on appearing there alone. There are a couple, but even then we're talking about maybe one or two sales. The important thing about these sorts of awards is that you know you're doing good work, and you know you're getting your work in front of the sort of people who appreciate it. And don't forget to thank your reviewers and share their posts. That's just common courtesy, and you'd be surprised how much they appreciate it because so few people have common courtesy.
2.) Mid-Level Awards
Since people are more familiar with the way movie awards work, let's compare literary awards with that. Blogger and reviewer awards would be the equivalent of a critic's top ten list, or in general terms, critical acclaim. (Book sales in this metaphor would be your box office, and, as we all know, sales do not necessarily translate into critical acclaim.) Then there's the Oscars, which we'll get to in a minute. Everybody wants an Oscar. But leading up to the Oscars are all those other awards that are great to get and raise your star, like the Golden Globes, the SAG Awards, People's Choice, that sort of thing.
Again, I only know about horror here, but I think most literary genres have the same basic set-up. There's one big award that you can plaster on the cover of your novel and maybe get you noticed by agents. Then there are all the more mid-level awards that suggest more that you're a rising name in the industry, not that you're at the pinnacle yet.
The Shirley Jackson Award is probably the big mid-level award in horror. (Although I'm sure a lot of you will shout at me in the comments and say that it's actually the big one.) The Shirley Jacksons are a very intellectual sort of award, chosen by a jury of horror experts and not by popular vote or anything like that.
There's also the Goodreads Choice Awards, which are going on now. That's entirely a popular vote, and they've got awards for every genre.
Oh, and, hey, you know what's another pretty good mid-level award? The This is Horror Awards! And, hey, now that I think about it, my very own HUNTER OF THE DEAD just so happens to be eligible for this year's awards! Of course, I can't nominate any work I'm affiliated with. All I can really do is encourage my fans and friends to e-mail This is Horror and include a single sentence about why they think HUNTER OF THE DEAD is worthy of best novel, alongside any other nominations they wish to make. So if you happen to run across any of my fans or friends, maybe let them know about that.
3.) The Big One
And then, of course, there's the biggie. For horror it's the Bram Stoker Awards. Everybody wants a Stoker unless:
a) they're far too cool to care about awards period because it's supposed to be all about the art, man, or,
b) they already have one, in which case, they completely downplay the importance of awards in general, because it's supposed to be all about the art, man
So, yeah. Basically everybody wants one. I know, talking about awards in general can be crass. And awards systems are, at the best of times, unscientific, so a lot of people get left feeling let down, or even excluded. Yeah, it sucks.
But awards are also a nice thing. They're a way of telling people that all that hard work they did was noticed. They're a way of congratulating your peers with more than just a pat on the back. They're a way of bringing a community together and opening discussion about what's good, what's bad, and what's great. Despite the corruption that I'm not going to pretend isn't real, there is some foundation in awards that good and right should be recognized, and that's a good thing.
And I just realized I've kind of gotten off topic. Maybe that'll be a post for another day. What I was supposed to be talking about is the Bram Stokers. And frankly they're a bit confusing. You might say it's something like our electoral system in that it seems like a contest between two (or more) books, but there are a bunch of ins and outs like primaries and polling and the electoral college and it all gets a bit complicated figuring out who won.
The Stokers are partly elected by popular vote by the members of the HWA. But they're also partly appointed by a jury of editors. Then they come out with a long list that's not actually the selections, it's just notable works of the year. Then they come out with a short list that's the actual nominations. Then I think there's a popular vote up and down the line. Like I said: I'm not real clear on this and it seems to have a lot of ins and outs.
I've submitted so far the two of my works which I felt were worthy of a Stoker to the jury, the short story "The New Dark Ages" last year and HUNTER OF THE DEAD this year. Last year I didn't even make it onto the long list, and this year well, I'll let you know. I suppose having a This is Horror Award couldn't hurt, you know, the way having a Golden Globe couldn't hurt your Oscar chances...
Anyway, what do you know about literary awards? Have you been nominated for any? Won any? Got your eye on any? Think they're all total crap and wish I hadn't brought them up? Let me know in the comments.