Thursday, January 9, 2014

You want my attention? You got it

By Steve Weddle

Major League Baseball's Hall of Fame voting is more of a joke each year. Maybe things will get better, but something has to change.

I'm not interested right now in arguing whether Jack Morris should be in, alongside Maddux and Glavine.

But what's going on is a mockery, which is often something I'm in favor of. Not this time.

You have reporters with Hall of Fame votes handing their ballots over to sports blogs. You have other voters turning in blank ballots to protest something something Steroid Era. You have voters who won't vote for Biggio because he played at the same Canseco was taking needles to the buttocks.

People have lost their damn minds.

Voting is a joke and the reward itself, being named to the Hall of Fame, is being pooped all over.

Which brings us to the week in crime fiction.

The Bookernet (as @bookriot calls the book folks who blog/tweet book conflicts on the internet) was on fire earlier this week and last as authors began receiving solicitations for nominations which went something like this: "Hey, I wrote a book called INSPECTOR DOLT SAVES THE DAY. It's eligible for a Stout Award. Can you click HERE and nominate it? kthxbye."

As someone who has done thoughtless, dopey things myself, lemme just say: Dude. Bad form.

Over the past few years, the Bookernet has talked about how book awards seem to be less about the most talented works winning, more about the most marketed book winning.

Of course, these are the same people who were super-duper rioty after a year went by with no one worthy of the fiction Pulitzer.

Look. I get it. You want your book to be noticed. It's a tough market. Being able to put a sticker on the paperback re-issue of your book would be hella sweet. But what are you doing to the process? She with the most email addresses wins? That's what you want to win for?

So I'd like to propose that each of the big awards for crime fiction immediately add some new awards. In addition to Best Novel and Best Debut and Coolest Reader and those, perhaps the committees for these awards can institute awards Most Solicitous or Most Soliciting? Best Marketing Campaign. Most Egregious Etiquette Breach. Most Self-Deprecating Grovel for Attention. Greatest Twitter #Humblebrag. Most RTs of Positive Review. Most Clever Way To Rile Up One's Own Fans To Offset A Two-Star Review. And so on.

Once we can get this done, then we get the baseball writers to select one of their own for Biggest Jerk. They don't even have to be very good writers to win.

After all, many writers seem to care much more about winning a writing award than they care about the writing.


Holly West said...

While I agree with this post, I'd say the last line is a bit harsh:

"After all, many writers seem to care much more about winning a writing award than they care about the writing."

I wouldn't say this is the case at all. Those who are begging for awards probably care at least as much about the writing. But now that they've finished the writing, they want some kudos, dammit!

I'm curious what you think about authors posting notices on their FB pages letting people know their book is eligible for an award. I'm okay with it (peeps can do what they want w/ their own pages) and it doesn't offend me. That said, I still wonder if it's a good idea. I'm not sure I'll be doing it when MOF is eligible next year.

Shaun Ryan said...

My first thought was that you could substitute "White House" for "Baseball Hall of Fame."

Color me cynical.

So I agree, Steve. Fifty shades of American Idol.

Those who are begging for awards probably care at least as much about the writing. But now that they've finished the writing, they want some kudos, dammit!

And here I thought this gig was about moving readers with great stories.

Steve Weddle said...

My concern is writers who turn into spammers, treating this as if they're running for student council. If someone wants to post on their own FB page or website about why their book is better than other books and should win an award, sheesh, they're not causing me any trouble.

I do, however, become annoyed when my email gets hit with messages simply saying "Hey, my book is up for award. I don't know if you've ever read it, but can you hop over to and vote for it." Honestly, what is the value of the award then?

Are we awarding for the books they've written or for their skills at networking?

Hell, be proud of the novel. Writing is hard. Just don't come into my house and hang up a poster saying: VOTE FOR PEDRO

Holly West said...

I don't think there's anything wrong with hoping for an award. I don't personally write for the awards but I'd be happy to get one. And I would argue that most of the writers I know are also not writing for the awards. Sure, writing is about moving readers and writing great stories, as Shaun says, but writers write for a variety of reasons and just because some people do it for reasons different than my own doesn't make them assholes (not that you've said this), or even bad writers.

I don't know, I guess I like to assume the best of people, even if I understand there are some big jerks out there.

As Steve points out, however, writers are not immune to making terrible decisions. And spamming other authors during "award season" is a truly bad idea.

What I want to know is why I haven't received any such spam in my own in-box. I'm starting to feel left out.

Shaun Ryan said...

I think the issue goes way beyond awards. More than one online writing workshop has degenerated into a spamboard.

Jay Stringer said...

I'm going to publish a list of all the cups of coffee I've made in the past 12 months. I'm not saying that I want you to put me up for an awesome coffee award, I'm just saying I'm eligible.

But seriously, guys, the Orwell Prize closes in mere days and nobody has nominated me yet?

Wait, it was MY job to do that? Shit. I thought big brother was meant to do all this.