Saturday, July 12, 2008
On not being a winner

A week or two ago a fan wrote in with the following:

Mr. Rothfuss,

Sorry to hear you didn't win the Locus award for Best Debut Novel of the year. Still, I hope you got to rub elbows with the famous people and wear a tux at the Locus awards.

I'd already had a handful of people send me their condolences about not winning. Some were gentle commiserations, while other folks were frothy with rage, upset at the sheer injustice of me not winning ever award in existence. Even the ones that were given out before my book was published. Even the ones that were given out before I was born.

Regardless of the tone, all the messages were sweet. And I told them the same thing: the winner, Heart Shaped Box, was a good book. A really good book, actually. I enjoyed it a lot. (Though I did something I rarely do, and listened to it as an audiobook without actually reading the paper version first.)

For the more morally outraged folks, I explained that Joe hill has actually been writing short stories for a while, so he had a bit of a pre-established readerbase even before his novel came out. Plus, he writes in the thriller/horror genre, which tends to have a bigger readership than epic fantasy. Both of those things, I explained, couldn't help but get him more votes, and that's the cool thing about the Locus Award - everyone gets a vote. It's like a democracy or something.

Plus, Hill's acceptance speech was very gracious. He mentioned all the other nominees, myself included. That's classy.

As for the Locus Awards themselves - they really weren't a tuxedo sort of affair. They're more of a Hawaiian shirt deal. Which, personally, I found kind of refreshing.

I also didn't get to do much elbow rubbing while I was out there. I had some sort of strange fever that left me exhausted and sweaty. Really sweaty. There were occasions where I was literally dripping, and that's not the best way to make a good impression on folks. So, for the most part, I just hung out.

I did get to hear William Gibson talk, which was pretty cool. And I got to hang out with Peter S. Beagle for a while (for reasons that I will discuss in a later blog.) That was terribly exciting despite the fact that I didn't feel very well. My only anxiety is that I looked like I was having the worst panic attack ever. But sweaty exhaustion aside, the fact remains that getting to talk with Mr Beagle made the whole trip worthwhile.

And that, I thought, was the Locus awards in a nutshell.

But it wasn't. Just a couple days ago, someone sent me an e-mail saying it was a shame about the awards. I was robbed, etc. etc.

I bounced them back the same response: Lost to a good book, established writer, classy speech.

Then the fan replied and said, "You do know that they changed how the votes were counted after the polls were closed, don't you?"

To which I said, "What?"

So he sent me a link or two explaining what had happened.

For those of you without the inclination to click and read the details on your own, here's the short version. After the polls closed, Locus apparently decided to count their subscriber's votes twice when tallying things up.

Which changed the results, obviously. Cory Doctorow's story collection Overclocked would have won first place if everything was even. But after they weighted their subscribers votes double, he came in third.

And, apparently, if they hadn't changed things, I would have won in my category.

So now I really don't know how I feel. Honestly, it would be way easier for me to form an opinion if my book weren't one of those affected by the change. (or should that be "effected?" I can never remember....)

Changing the way the votes are tallied after the polls are closed looks pretty dodgy though, no matter how you shake it. It makes it seem as if things got counted up, then folks started saying, "Hmmmm.... Well, how does it turn out if everyone who lives in New Hampshire gets two votes? No. Not what we're looking for. How about people with a GED only get three-fifths of a vote? Still no good. Starbelly sneeches get ten votes? Yes. Perfect. That works. Let's go with that."

I don't really have a good note to close on. The fact remains that Hill's book is still great and his speech was still classy. If I didn't mind losing to him before, logic says that it shouldn't bother me now.

On the other hand, winning awards is cool. Aside from the warm fuzzy, it creates publicity, and that helps spread the word about the book.

Plus, this award was a plaque of some sort. I could have used that for all sorts of things. Obviously it would be useful for decorating the barren walls of my house and intimidating my enemies, but that's just for starters. I could have also used it for serving drinks when company comes over. It also looked pretty heavy, so I could have used it as a projectile in the eventuality of a zombie attack.

Meh. That's all I've got. I should get back to working on the book.

Later all,


Labels: , , , ,

posted by Pat at


Blogger Llyralei said...

omg, Pat, that sucks. :/ That's totally not fair all around.

Well, at least you can say "I almost won a Locus award", right? ... It'll be a good, indignant sounding story. :]

I eagerly anticipate your blog about speaking to Mr. Beagle. :] The Last Unicorn is one of my favourite books ever.

July 12, 2008 4:06 PM  
OpenID suziko said...

I just hope that your face doesn't look as downcast as that plain-bellied Sneech. That would be so sad.
I wish you had won.

July 12, 2008 4:09 PM  
Anonymous Peat said...

That's bullshit, yo.

Maybe they're just trying to get more people to become subscribers.

July 12, 2008 4:22 PM  
Blogger Micah Cowan said...

But peat, if they were trying to get more people to be subscribers, they should have announced the weighted votes beforehand.

This kind of behavior cheats everyone. It cheats the voters, it cheats the folks that might otherwise have won awards, but didn't, and it cheapens the awards that were won, but might not have been. Joe Hill should be complaining as loudly as anyone else, IMO.

July 12, 2008 4:36 PM  
Blogger matt said...

All of this is very interesting. Who was the PR rep that screened this decision? They turned a potential marketing tactic into a self-inflicted PR bullet. This is definitely one of those "maybe we should have thought of this a bit sooner... or not at all," sort of moments.

July 12, 2008 5:51 PM  
Blogger Seeker said...

Don't worry, Pat- your next book will be so awesome that you will win no matter how they count the votes!

July 12, 2008 6:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's totally messed up pat. The people paying the company, count more than the people not?

July 12, 2008 6:13 PM  
Blogger Touchstone said...


I had no idea.

July 12, 2008 6:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@anon-July 12, 2008 6:13 PM

it's not that subscribers get 2 votes. That's not the problem. If they had announced beforehand that locus readers would get 2 votes and used it as a marketing strategy to find much needed subscribers then that would be fine (and a good idea, really). The problem is in changing the way votes count in a manner than will change the outcome, AFTER the voting has closed.

July 12, 2008 6:46 PM  
OpenID roseneko said...

Damn, dude. That sucks balls. I know that (despite what they tell us in school) life isn't fair and stuff like this happens, but I thought the whole point of things like awards ceremonies was to create something that's fair, even though life in general isn't. I guess it just goes to show that for all our lofty goals, people are still people.

And geez, you got cheated out of a plaque! My mother had a marble plaque that she won from some kind of college drama/music festival, and she always said it was the most useful award she'd ever been given. She's used it to pound nails into the walls and hang pictures for as long as I can remember...

July 12, 2008 6:59 PM  
Blogger Mary J. said...

Well, darn it...
I will say you are reacting in a pretty classy way yourself. Personally, I don't think gray hulk rage would have been much of an overreaction but your way is better- classier. ;-)

No worries- Wise Man's Fear will win all of the awards!

July 12, 2008 7:38 PM  
Anonymous Kalligenia said...

Geez, that doesn't sound fair. We'll just have to find you another weapon to use against the zombies. 'Cause it is going to happen one day... maybe soon....

July 12, 2008 8:23 PM  
Blogger Jessica said...

affected is right

and, that sucks! and is dodgy, bleecccch, leaves a bad taste in your mouth

July 12, 2008 8:31 PM  
Anonymous TFI said...

Hm. Well how do you think Bush became the Commander of our Armed forces?
But honestly, that just sucks nads.

And respect TEH SNEECH.

July 12, 2008 9:23 PM  
Blogger Steve Weyerts Jr. said...

Patrick Rothfuss currently lives in central Wisconsin where he teaches at the local university. In his free time Pat writes a satirical humor column, practices civil disobedience, and dabbles in alchemy. He loves words, laughs often, and refuses to dance. The Name of the Wind is his first novel. In 2008, it won the Locus award for best debut. Almost.

July 12, 2008 9:51 PM  
Blogger Amanda said...

That's really sad. You deserve to win every award you're nominated for. They totally jipped you. (Is that how you spell jipped?)

Seriously lame.

July 12, 2008 9:57 PM  
Anonymous Karyn said...

Plaques make lovely door stops in older homes. A nice walnut one will contrast well with an oak floor.

July 12, 2008 9:57 PM  
Blogger Count wes said...


This tragedy must be the work of some sort of fine print, or the involvement of an asterisk.

I'm deeply saddened by this turn of events. You have my condolences. On the bright side, you have any number of fans who would send you plaques if you asked it. Does He?


Probably not.

Whose with me for getting Pat his honorary plaque?


July 12, 2008 11:00 PM  
Blogger Whitney said...

Well, I know the publicity isn't as good as winning an award, but I work in a book store and I recommend your book every chance I get! I can't wait for the second installment.

July 12, 2008 11:02 PM  
Anonymous Ben said...

Well first let me say this, we still love the book, and we still think it's fantastic.

Locus made a big mistake and this is going to come back an bite them in the butt, but that's there problem.

I understand that awards are nice, real nice, but if its something to cover your barren walls you're looking for then I'm sure I can send something your way to do such a thing :D

Things like this happen all too often :( but that is life, all we can do is sit down for the ride and hope that things will work out for the best :) you're still a NYT best selling author, your next book will sell by the truckload all over the world, things can only , and will, go up.

ok now I'll stop sounding like a motivational card.

P.S to the person who asked its gypped as its a derivative of gypsy

July 13, 2008 1:32 AM  
Blogger Captain Joe said...

Well that's a kick in the teeth, no matter which way you look at it.

Pat, you may not be the author of Best Debut novel of the Year (technically), but you are most definitely the author of my heart.

Good to see you're taking things in stride here, although your seemingly logical neutrality on this issue did make me think of one of the three things all wise men fear... the anger of a gentle man.

Let's be honest, I would've unleashed the winged-monkeys into the night, bringing ruin upon my enemies. Not too subtle, but it has a certain nostalgic finesse.

I don't know where I'm going with this anymore. Pat, we know you deserved the award, and in all your modesty, you know it too. The Name of the Wind is awesome, that is all.

~Cap'n Joe

July 13, 2008 1:39 AM  
Blogger LemurKat said...

Joe Hill's book was okay, but yours was MUCH better!


July 13, 2008 5:34 AM  
Anonymous Plucky said...

Well I guess i am the only person who doesnt have a problem with the vote or the fact that pat didnt win.

For me, A good book is a good book. You cant really say one is better than the other, its just opinion after that. Plus its not good to be at the top when you start out. (Is ten years of writing and getting a book published really starting out?)

Well maybe not for you but it is for the fan. I personal would like to see your praise build as you release your books. So by the time the finale book in the series comes out nobody will say Pat Author of the best selling book "The Name of The Wind". Winner of such and such. But praise Pat as a Great Author all around who happens to wright fantasy.

And if Pat doesnt see it as the beginning then he most likely already received his true rewards when the first few people read his book and loved it.

and as for a Trophy well. An author can't get a better Trophy then an avid fan Like Captain Joe. And no matter how many awards u Lose or even win... well u get the point.

July 13, 2008 9:40 AM  
Blogger Rachel said...

I actually want to chime in with plucky -- as disappointing as this is, you're in it for the long haul, and as word of the excellence of your writing spreads, accolades will follow.

For some reason, I'm reminded of when Guns 'n' Roses' "Appetite For Destruction" didn't win a Grammy the year it was eligible because no one really knew about it. The following year, it had become this smashingly HUGE success and everyone wanted to vote for it -- but it wasn't eligible anymore.

Hang in there. You will receive your just due in time.

July 13, 2008 10:46 AM  
Blogger CoxinSocks said...

Oh, thank God.

I was worried people hadn't read the book, and that Pat was going to have to go back to ramen and hotdogs. I was also worried that people had read the book, but that everyone's taste was so much worse than mine I'd never find my soulmate.

Instead, it just turns out that Pat got screwed over by Cory Doctorow! Well, technically he got screwed over by the Locus guys who were trying to screw over Cory Doctorow, but let's not split hairs. If Doctorow didn't have a book out this year, chances are they'd have never changed the voting system and Pat would have another shiny sticker to put on the next paperback.

But, he got the most votes! People read NOTW, and they liked it more than anything else that came out this year. So, congrats Pat. If I ever see Cory Doctorow I'll tell him he owes you a Locus.

July 13, 2008 11:53 AM  
Anonymous Chrys said...

Hmmm. So much for the reputation of Locus.

On the much brighter side, having been linked to this blog via Captain Joe's yahoo list, I've been checking in every so often, and just today, prior to reading this entry, I actually made it to a bookstore and bought a copy of NotW. So - isn't that the real award?

Still, a plaque. That's a shame.

July 13, 2008 3:04 PM  
Blogger Angela said...

Watch out for those plaques. You know how they say a sword cuts both ways, well a plaque bashes people/zombies in the head in either directions. Seriously, I keep my plaques over my bed and they like to fall off the wall and onto me....while I'm asleep. I'm in serious danger of a concussion or a heart attack.

Oh yeah, affected is right. I had a hard time with that too until I came up with the inevitable stupid way to remember it.
"A is for action. E is for effect."

Don't sweat the awards...we all know who got the most votes...

July 13, 2008 3:48 PM  
Blogger Simon Haynes said...

I think they should either make the awards subscriber-only or make all votes equal. At the very least they should have announced the double-value subscriber votes beforehand.

I'm a Locus subscriber and I picked your novel, so if it's any consolation that means you got two votes out of me.

July 13, 2008 8:38 PM  
Blogger maliksword3908 said...

hmmm?? Pat, i have to say this. Winning that award only means he wrote a more popular book not a better one. And given that his genre is the more popular one....Infact u should see it this way, the reality that your book could be so close despite the advantage he had is mighty impressive! Its like a battle where one side has, i dnt know, three hundred warriors....and the opposite bears an endless march of men. If in the end those meager three hundred stand a day and a night? it would be a thing to speak of during the morning market. if they manage to actually cause a dent upon the massive legion?? HISTORY. However, if historians were to find out, many years later, that a slight change in the battle field was made on the night when both sides rested, which could have ultimitaly tipped the odds and led to the demise of the few?? It would surely be turned into a major motion picture film! so hey maybe????

July 13, 2008 8:50 PM  
Blogger Captain Joe said...

Plucky said: and as for a Trophy well. An author can't get a better Trophy then an avid fan Like Captain Joe. And no matter how many awards u Lose or even win... well u get the point.

HAHAH! You hear that, Pat? I'm as rewarding as a trophy. And twice as cuddly.

This made me smile. Thanks, Plucky.

July 13, 2008 9:24 PM  
Blogger glittalogik said...

Well for what it's worth, Pat, 'affect' was correct there =)

July 13, 2008 11:14 PM  
Blogger Summer said...

Yupyup. 'tis 'affected' in that context.

... I know other people have already said that. I just wanted the satisfaction of advising the author of my favourite book. I mean, come on. That's almost as good as sky-diving while sugar-high.

And that whole Locus affair seems a tad messily done. *raises eyebrows* I should think that they would be better organized. Still, not too much of a loss. Anyone who reads your book can tell it's awesome, and really, an author can't ask for much more than that. Riches and plaques aside.

July 14, 2008 12:46 AM  
Blogger marky said...

Que sera sera.

Don't feel aggrieved about it Pat. It would have helped for sales, and the wise mans fear would have looked good with a wee Locus mention on the back. But as my old ma always says "What’s for ya won't go by ya". I'm sure you'll get your just rewards in the end.

I'm aff to find oot how to get rid of the mother of all hangovers before I puke on my boss.

July 14, 2008 3:01 AM  
Blogger Incubus Jax said...

Now Pat, you know, you know, that plaque is the perfect size to stick under the bum leg of your computer desk. If you'd have won, BAM! no more rocking back and forth as you type.

But instead you lost. No plaque for you. You're a loser.

It's okay, we're all losers, it's nothing to be ashamed of. Hell last night I went to a club hoping to score and guess what? I lost.

So you're not alone. Just remember, the Horror genre, no matter how popular, is the genre that put Paris Hilton on the big screen.

And Yes, it's very possible I'm talking about her non-Hollywood approved DVD.


July 14, 2008 9:52 AM  
Anonymous tomas said...

suddenly i'm foaming at the mouth

July 14, 2008 3:16 PM  
Blogger Icarus said...

How about, as a contest, if we all try to make "The Name of the Wind is the Best Book Trophies"!

Pat cane be the judge. All of his votes count as 1,000,000.

July 14, 2008 5:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

July 14, 2008 9:56 PM  
Anonymous Ben said...

And Doctorow still hasn't made any sort of comment on how they changed the voting guidelines so that he didn't win.

I will admit that I thought more of him than that. I thought of him as someone who spoke up about whatever was on his mind, but apparently he's willing to wear a muzzle in exchange for getting to write for locus. Disappointing.

July 22, 2008 7:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At least you win the award for "Author with the most fangirls willing to take pictures of themselves half-naked with said author's novel and then post them on the internet." Joe Hill can't say that. It's got to count for something, right? =D

July 31, 2008 2:23 PM  
Blogger Avruch said...

This is the same Joe Hill whose real last name is King, as in Stephen King's son? His spot in the firmament of publisher recognition was sort of established ahead of time, wasn't it? And the verification word is "Flanteg." Nice.

April 9, 2009 2:20 PM  

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