on Judging and other things

By Dave Freer

Ok, apologies in advance. I have an abcess under a tooth, a roaring temperature, a con to prepare for and fair amount of pain.  All Joy.

As a little bit of interest I got my royalty check today – due in March, reflecting the complete reporting for books available fro the entire six months July-December.  It amounts to 800 dollars or so – for 14 books I think it is, which you may compare to the income we’re getting from putting CRAWLSPACE and other stories (including GENIE OUT OF THE VAT) – basically a novella, a novellette and some shorts – up on Kindle (no not the others yet) will comfortably earn that.  I guess I am going to have to put them up as the rights become mine, and hope this continues as a trend. Any add in is good, and I’m also going to have to write more in existing series just for this market. I can’t live on the income generated by my traditional publishing efforts.

Anyway, I am off to Continuum in Melbourne this weekend – only I fly on Wednesday… so any readers here, I will be doing a few book giveaways at my reading.

 I’ve got to judge a costume? /mask  thing. Now this raises a hackle or two from yours truly. Because I am a punctilious sort of bloke (sometimes steam-punctilious) in doing any task of judgement. I despise the way many writing awards have become incestuous festering pools of politically correct nepotism, where, often as not, quality and enjoyableness of the read are the last thing ever considered. If I judge anything, I try desperately hard to be as fair as possible and professional as possible (which is why I won’t vote in the Nebs. I haven’t read all the works nominated. And I disapprove of noms where the names of nominees are visible.) I am aware of just what hard work goes into costuming. I am also aware  that I am to sartorial elegance what Godzilla was to cheese. I hope they have some expert to advise – but in case they don’t what do I look for? hints anyone?

11 thoughts on “on Judging and other things

  1. Sorry to hear the bad news on the tooth and royalties front, bit I think you can stop worrying about the fancy-dress competition. Continuum isn’t a huge con and at last year there were only around 25 in costume(the theme was post-apocalyptic). The winner wore a dress made of mostly recycled materials(the skirt had CDs sewn over it instead of sequins etc.) that the judges thought fit the theme the best. This year the theme is Changing Consciousness so it will be fun to see what people come up with to fit that!

  2. Dave, take care of yourself! As for the royalties, as we’ve said before, the whole thing is changing and it will be interesting to see how the numbers change as more and more authors can verify what the houses report to them based on what the authors are seeing on their bookscan pages that Amazon is providing. As for putting your titles up as they become available to you, all I can say is that more and more authors are doing just that. Of course, more and more agents are working for agencies that are forming their own publishing arms to do that is another story and a whole new can of worms to be opened.

    1. yes, Amanda, the moment your agent does that, it’s time to fire them. Direct conflict of interest. It’s not outright dishonesty I am seeing in the bookscan figures (I get the full figures, not just the amazon summary). Not yet anyway, as my reporting starts from January this year, and Royalty reports aren’t there yet. But the figures are still poor. It’s what you might be call either incompetance or ‘I-couldn’t-give-toss’. ie where a sequel to a book comes out, and… the original’s sales do not rebound (ie it is not available – which it isn’t on Amazon either), or where weekly sales in adjoining areas are say 15 in one, and zero in the other. This will continue for some weeks… and then it will be zero in both. And then this doesn’t change. In otherwords distribution did not happen to area A and once area B sold out, no-one restocked. And no distribution of some books into some areas at all, ever. Florida for example, never saw a copy of Dragon’s Ring in any reporting store. So in a population of 17 million… no one going into any chain bookstore even saw it. That’s not crooked, but it does make you wonder just why the author is getting 8% of the cover price, and the publishers, distributors, and retailers get the rest.

  3. Y’a know, I know so little about judging costumes, but I was privy to the judging at the WorldCon here in Japan (as a translator). It seemed to me as if the judges pretty much invented some scales on the fly, rated everyone on those scales, then took the “top” folks based on the results and worked out a few different “special” awards (artistic, humor, etc.).

    So I guess if I was in your place, I’d try to figure out some scales (appearance, innovativeness, theme? something simple like that, leastwise) and do a quick sort based on those (say 1 to 5 on each of the scales). Then I’d see if anyone really caught my attention that deserved a “special award” and make up a title to fit that.

    Then you get to negotiate with the other judges (are there others?) to reach a common decision.

    And don’t forget the fun of announcing your decisions! Start with the lower ones, and build the tension for the top, if you can.

    Good luck!

  4. Often it is a matter of how well the costume was made/vs. store bought and in this type of thing how amusing also counts. Like the guys dressed as feagles totting a giant sheep. Backwards

    1. Yes, exactly. My problem really is as someone who does not sew much assessing the skill required is beyond my ability. When someone is really good at something… they make it look as if it were easy and decieve the unwary judge – like people who think clunky turgid prose = great writing because it hard to understand, and easy-to-read must be irrelevant fluff, because they didn’t have to read it three times to get basic sense. I can see when a master writer is carrying a difficult concept with clarity and know just how hard it is to do that – despite the no apparent effort. I cannot do the same for someone’s sewing skills.
      I worry about

      1. Don’t give points for effort or skill. Give points for what really matters – results. The competition is about entertaining the audience – which costumes do that best?

  5. I think that the best costume I’ve seen (and she won) was someone who came as the Eye of Mordor. She dressed all in black, put a paper mache pumpkin (the eye) on her head, and put her arms up like the spires on the tower.

    I’m certain that the technical difficulty wasn’t all that great. But who would ever think of something like that?

  6. Dave, just judge on what you see on stage, don’t worry about the workmanship. Is the presentation amusing, is it short, does it take advantage of the entire stage, if there is a live mike, can you hear what is being said?

    Funny is better than serious (generally), short is better than long (always), short and funny is best (generally).


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