Seanan McGuire (seanan_mcguire) wrote,
Seanan McGuire
seanan_mcguire

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In which Seanan is briefly thoughtful about awards.

This morning, I awoke to find the annual award season argument raging on my Twitter. It's a familiar dance (we dance it every year), and it goes like this:

PERSON #1: "Here are my eligible works!"
PERSON #2: "That's crass and inappropriate!"
PERSON #1: "But...how else am I supposed to make sure people know what's actually eligible?"
PERSON #2: "SILENT HATEFUL MAGIC."

(I always get Ursula from The Little Mermaid in my head right about now. "You'll have your looks! Your pretty face! And don't underestimate the importance of body language...")

This was followed by the second loop of the award argument:

PERSON #2: "I will never ever ever ever vote for or nominate someone who announces they're eligible."
PERSON #1: "But...that just penalizes the people you know about."
PERSON #2: "I KNOW ALL THINGS."
PERSON #1: "What about conversations in bars? Isn't it better to be upfront and public?"
PERSON #2: "ALL THINGS."

Cue the Sea Witch.

So here, then, is the big conundrum of authors during award season: If we say "I am eligible, and here is what I am eligible for," we get people complaining about crass, inappropriate self-promotion, no matter how gently we word it. If we say nothing at all, we get people complaining about how we didn't remind them about our eligibility, with a side order of "why didn't you make sure I knew nominations were open in the first place." In short, we cannot win for losing. So which option causes more unhappiness? Which option is more problematic, in the long run?

In this case, I'm going to say...silence. Because here's the thing: the only way a zero promotion model works is if there is genuinely zero promotion. If one person with a lot of friends makes an off-hand comment in a bar, that can change everything, especially with as narrow a margin as most fannish awards tend to have—and yes, that includes the Hugos and the Nebulas. Since zero promotion is impossible to enforce, the best option is for everyone who cares about the horses they have in the race to say, publicly, politely, and without hiding behind the veil of anonymity, "I am eligible for these things, in these categories, thank you for considering me, please remember to consider all the worthy works from this past year."

I have horses in this year's race. So do an enormous number of my friends, and an enormous number of authors and creators who are not friends of mine, but whose work I respect and admire. And I genuinely want to see the ballot reflect what we, as a community, think, not what I think, or what Bob thinks, or what Bob's fifty friends who he took out for drinks last Friday night might think. I want us to be global, and that means sometimes, creators will need to open their mouths and say "I am eligible." There's no shame in that. Saying it every day for a month, on the other hand, will get me slapping you in the back of the head with a tentacle.

Just saying.
Tags: awards and stuff, cranky blonde is cranky
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