Thursday, August 30, 2007

Spinetingler Awards

After much debate, we've decided to implement an annual award through Spinetingler Magazine. Two things were paramount in my mind when considering this:

1. I didn't want us to just duplicate what others were doing.
2. I wanted the awards to invite the participation of readers and authors.

As a result, October 1, 2007 we'll open up the nominating process. I will have information about this on our site and post more (assuming that's okay with the moderators) when the time comes.

Our categories have been selected to try to make sure newer talent isn't overshadowed by the greats. In order to be nominated, the author must have had a new title out between Oct. 1, 2006 and Sept. 30, 2007, available in Canada. (Don't you worry about that - we'll worry about it. If we can't get the book here, we may not be able to consider it - depends on how long it takes us to get it in.)

The categories:

- Best book of the year by an author with 9+ titles published OR an author who has secured a six-figure advance. (Readers don't need to worry about figuring this out - we will.)

Rising Star
- Best book of the year by an author with 4-8 books published

New Voice
- Best book of the year by an author with 1-3 books published

Best Cover Art
- Lots of whining about repetitive cover art lately. We're not going to whine. We're going to applaud the good stuff there is.

Best Publisher
- If you're a reader who just loves a certain publisher, or an author who's had great experiences or a bookseller who believes there's one publisher out there that's outshining the rest, tell us who and why.

Best Editor
- Pretty much the same as the above. Even if you don't know who edited a book you can nominate it with the title, author's name and publisher's name. Plenty of people have commented on poor editing. When you see a book you think is rock solid, really impressive, we want to know. It's about time someone told editors they were doing a great job.

Best Short Story on the Web

There has been a lot to complain about in the publishing world, and much of it is valid. But we've decided to spend our time and energy focusing on celebrating the positive. We'll open nominating and see what readers tell us is worth looking at. Then we'll narrow down a shortlist of nominees in each category, and announce the winners in our January 2008 issue. (I’m hoping we’ll have a shortlist available early December.)

And the reason for three categories up top and not just two (debut vs best) is because we want to encourage publishers to grow their authors. We're moving authors with big deals into the toughest category to level out the playing field for good authors without as much publisher support, who would otherwise be overshadowed because of the amount of publicity the authors with major deals get.

I hope some of you will start thinking about it. Every person will be able to nominate up to five selections in each category. Every little bit of PR helps, right? And we could tell you our opinion... But I kind of figure we do that in our reviews already. There are a lot of people who can't attend conventions and vote for the other fan choice awards. You can nominate for this one for free, from the comfort of your own home, and have your say. We're still working out some logistics, but we'll be ready to roll October 1.


Daniel Hatadi said...

Excellent! Looking forward to nominating myself in all categories, whether I qualify or not. Is everyone going to win glow-in-the-dark pens?

Sandra Ruttan said...

You know, I'd always wanted to hand people severed spines, and I thought that would be good, but glow-in-the-dark pens - that's genius. I love it. And maybe they could vibrate and we could call them tinglers.

(Someone tell John to stop snickering.)

Daniel Hatadi said...

That settles it. Glow-in-the-dark ballpoint severed spines that vibrate.

But seriously, the awards are a great idea.

Sandra Ruttan said...

I hope so. There are plenty of awards out there, but this one combines two aspects. Any reader with internet access and a computer can be involved in the nominating process. Once we've established the top nominees we'll judge the books. It keeps our hands clean from just nominating from what we read in a year. Personally, I think if you're going to have awards you have to open it up to consider everything eligible. Unlike other awards where authors or publishers have to supply copies, we'll buy our own if we need to for what's shortlisted. I could never read 300 books in a year, so reader input will narrow the field.

Plus, I think a huge gap in our industry is not acknowledging publishers and editors and their efforts. All we can do is try, and give some credit where it's due. I hope it makes the good ones feel positive for a change. Lord knows they get enough criticism for all the ills of the industry.

Pepper Smith said...

LOL! The word verification is jrdge. Worth posting just to mention that.

Sounds like a great idea. And I can say that because nothing I have out qualifies this year. It's all pre-October 2006. Now to see if I can think of things to nominate...

Unknown said...

I'll echo Daniel and Pepper - it sounds like an excellent idea. I particularly like the idea of splitting out the categories based on how many books the nominee has written and, with the other categories, it does make a worthwhile change to be rewarding the good cover and good publishers rather than bashing the bad ones... which isn't to say bad ones shouldn't be bashed, but I think it's better for examples of what's good to be what people focus on and remember, rather than just what's bad.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Yes Pepper, think of nominations! I hope we get a lot of them.

Vincent, that was one of my biggest things to work out. I know other awards where some authors have removed themselves from consideration because they're so popular, but I don't really like that. It's something you learn after the fact, and then it doesn't really represent the best. You could then say you eliminate everyone who's 'too popular' but how do you determine that?

There are a lot of really good authors plugging along, building book to book, with 5, 6, 7, books to their name, overshadowed by the extremely successful to some degree but very worthy of attention. Since so many awards rely on the publishers to push the books for consideration there's a risk again that only really mainstream popular stuff will get attention.

I agree there's plenty of crap out there in terms of bad covers etc., and if there was a contest for complaining about stuff I'm sure I could win. I just don't see that it's constructive. With movies they give their nods to directors, producers, soundtracks etc. What seems to be missing with book awards is cover design and editing nods. Both things are crucial to the overall success and quality of the book as a whole package. We have to start pointing out when people get it right.

And I can't wait to see what gets nominated. I wouldn't be surprised if I end up with a long list of authors I've never read before.

Anonymous said...

All nominees could have one my leftover "Forces of Evil" T-shirts. Nobody wanted one in Boise or Dallas.

Sandra Ruttan said...

How could anyone not want a Forces of Evil t-shirt? Unbelievable.