Friday, May 27, 2005

Why?

Like Safe Light I am here because of awards marketing. Not too long ago I got a book in the mail, which had me excited. FREE BOOK, woo hoo. Once of the reasons to join [MY WRITERS ORGANIZTION], I'd once been told, was to get FREE BOOKS. So I opened the package and took out said FREE BOOK and read the letter that came with it.

Dear Stygian Dark:

I read [YOUR STORY HERE] and really liked it, enough to rec it for Nebula, and in the author notes I read you were from [YOUR HOMETOWN HERE] and thought I'd write to you because I [DROVE THROUGH/VISITED/SNIFFED] [YOUR HOMETOWN HERE] once in [SOME RANDOM YEAR] and thought it was really [ADJECTIVE].


Well, you get the idea, it went on from there.

At first I thought, hmm, neat, then talked to a few friends, and they'd all gotten the same letter with appropriate filled in details. I was shocked, shocked (well, no I wasn't, but nonetheles...) as I realized this was an attempt to get the book on the Nebula ballot.

So then I read FREE BOOK, and it was okay. But not award quality. So I didn't nominate it. But sure enough, I saw that right after this process FREE BOOK suddenly started getting nominations. This frustrated me when something similar happened again, not too long ago. Which got me to thinking:

Said author was sending this to the wrong people. I have nothing against marketing, but marketing to other writers/neo pros in SFWA just seems odd. Why wasn't said author offering give aways on his website to his fans? Why wasn't he giving copies aways to more reviewers and online reviewers?

Is the author's implicit thought in the act of giving away a load of books in hopes of a Nebula nomination the assumption that the Nebula will increase the sales of the book? If so, where can we find out if this is true or not? Or does the author assume that the book is good enough for a Nebula, and if so, why did they assume I needed a letter and a free copy of the book to help me come to that conclusion?

I don't know, I may be wrong, but it seems that the awards should be something that are awarded to authors for the perceived quality of the work. The money and time spent on trying to get on the final ballot could be better spent just promoting the book to potential readers and fans... not other writers.

So here I am... trying to look for the stuff that will enable me to vote for stories, not friends.

5 Comments:

Blogger Naomi Novik said...

Speaking as a new writer myself, who has no established name, sending the book to other members of SFWA in hopes of winning their support for the Nebula doesn't seem at all inherently unreasonable to me. I mean, sure, the wise writer would be marketing it otherwise, but even if the Nebula doesn't have a particular sales benefit (I have no idea if it does or not), being nominated for or winning the Nebula is probably something every sff writer dreams about, and you haven't a chance if enough SFWA members haven't read your book. And they are themselves writers and likely busy and with limited time/money to spend on books by new authors.

To me the problem here is that this particular mailing was tacky. The emphasis on "I nominated your story" is flattery and nearly an invitation to trade nominations and the faux-personalization of the form letter is an attempt to generate the warmth of a personal connection on your side to his benefit without actually making a sincere effort on his own. I feel certain Miss Manners would disapprove. *g*

10:18 AM  
Anonymous Jay Caselberg said...

The Nebs are just log-rolling. There is always clear compaigning and voting factions. There would be lots of ways to stop this. Getting rid of the Nebs would be one.

6:41 PM  
Anonymous Vera Nazarian said...

Just a minor correction -- it is not "nomination" but "recommendation," when we refer to the Nebula Preliminary Ballot.

You don't become a Nominee until you've made the Final Ballot.

8:09 AM  
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