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,

pat

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posted by Pat at 40 Comments



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