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



Tuesday, April 1, 2008
Concerning the Hugos

Since the Hugo nominations for this year were announced, I've received a surprising amount of mail on the subject. So far it has ranged from friendly consolation to frothy outrage over the fact that I'm not one of the contenders for the "best novel" category.

I won't lie. I was hoping for a nomination. It would have been extremely cool. What's more, it would have given me an excuse to wear a tuxedo at Worldcon. I like wearing a tux.

Alas, it was not meant to be. But I did want to thank everyone for their kind words, the messages y'all have sent have been very sweet, and they have eased the sting.

But what I realized just today is that each of these e-mails I've received shows people at different stages of the grieving process. Take a look. (All items in quotes are from actual letters or comments left on the blog.)

1. Denial. "I can't believe you weren't nominated."

I can. The truth is, I'm really, really new to the scene. I've been a published author for almost exactly one year. And while it's been a great year, most people don't even know I exist. That makes it hard to win an award that's based on a popular vote.


2. Anger. "That's bullshit that you're not on there...seriously." "Dude, you were totally fucking robbed on the Hugo nods." "I feel like punching someone in the neck about this!"

There were a lot of these. However, please do not punch anyone in the neck on my behalf. Remember: Anger, fear, aggression... the dark side of the Hugos are they.


3. Bargaining. "Is there a write-in option for the Hugos? I would have voted, but I was sur [sic] that you were a shoe in."

Thank you, but there's nothing to be done at this point. The nominations themselves are exclusively write-in, but voting for the the award itself is not. Even then, only people who are attending Worldcon get to vote in the Hugos.


4. Depression. "The more I learn how these things work, the more I realize I have no respect for awards that are given out by popular vote."

Well, you know what they say about Democracy. It's the worst form of government except for every other one that's been tried....


5. Acceptance. "Let's hope that The Wise Man's Fear will be of the same quality and that it'll receive the nomination TNOTW clearly deserved."

I hope so too.


For those of you who are still stuck in the anger or bargaining stages, you could burn off a little of that energy in a productive way if you want. Namely, by casting your ballot in the Locus awards over here.

The Locus awards are a little different in that anyone can vote, not just a specific group of people, like the Nebulas or the Hugos. Plus they've been around for over thirty years, and are fairly prestigious in their own right.

Just make sure you follow the directions on the page before you cast your ballot. Anyone can vote, but anonymous votes are tossed out. And while there are pull-down menus, you can also write in your own votes in each category.

My book is eligible for both the "Best Fantasy Novel" AND "Best First Novel." Just in case you're interested.

Later all,

pat


Edit 9:45 PM: I've noticed a pleasant, but slightly unnerving trend in the comments on this note. While I'm flattered that people would vote for my book, I really hope that people aren't just hopping over the Locus Ballot just to vote for me.

I tend to assume that the vast majority of the people that read this blog tend to enjoy a lot of fantasy and sci-fi. So what I'm really hoping is that you hop over to the Locus Ballot and vote for ALL your favorite books and stories of the last year. All of them. And if it turns out you like five other books better than mine... well... then tough shit for The Name of the Wind.

I know this probably goes without saying, and that most of you understood what I meant the first time around. But I'd rather make sure of it than come off as a dirty vote-grubbing whore.

pat

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posted by Pat at 21 Comments



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