Dragon on the carpet
A little parable for you: Once upon a time, some Bavarian beer fanciers set up a beer-fest in field outside their small town. Now, because nothing goes quite so well with good beer as good smoked and cured pork, soon there were people providing the same, and happy buxom lasses serving beer, eisbein, various pork sausages and ham. Then there was an oom-pah band. Everyone had a great time, and the festival grew, people came from far and wide, and stall-holders made money.
A carpet seller saw the success and set up a stall in the corner. Now he came from a Muslim country, and didn’t drink alcohol, or eat pork. But people felt a little sorry for him and he did some good business. And some of his carpets were rather nice. It would be intolerant to be nasty and some diversity was good, Ja. The next year there were three carpet sellers. And then the year after twenty…
Oddly, numbers visiting the town for the festival were down, and there was less money to go around. So they had a meeting. The carpet sellers complained about the pork sales, and the alcohol and the buxom lasses not covering up their flesh, and that the oom-pah had to be silent during prayers. And the beer and pork sellers and the ladies of plentiful cleavage, and the tuba-player in his lederhosen all said “But it’s a beerfest, this is how it should be…”
And the carpet-sellers drew themselves up, and shouted: “You intolerant brutes. Go away. This is our festival. You do not understand our traditions.”
So the beer-brewers said good-bye to their familiar grounds, and pork sellers tore down their ovens, and loaded them onto a dray and the tuba-player picked up his tuba, put his arm around the buxom beer-server, and left. They started a new festival in the field on the other side of town.
The carpet sellers all cheered. “No money wasted on beer and pork. All for us! And we don’t have to put up with those sinful women like uncovered meat, and that terrible noise.”
The Bavarians started a new festival in the field on the other side of town. Soon it was bigger and busier and noisier than old one, with lots of money made and lots and lots of happy people, having fun, enjoying the music, the pork, the good beer and the fine view of the buxom beer-servers.
What do you think happened to the carpet-sellers?
Do the beer customers care?
Well I didn’t win either category of Dragon Award I was in, and I’m still smiling. It was a victory anyway, for genre I love with popular work from across the socio-political range winning, and a range of shortlisted nominees that made choosing really hard. A big thank you to all of those of my readers and fans who voted for me anyway. It was great just to be there.
Someone sent me commiserations on Changeling’s Island (Baen) not winning the YA Novel Dragon Award. Heh. I think of it like this – If I was in chosen to be in a hundred meter foot race with Usain Bolt in the starting line-up, I’d be walking around with just as much of a silly grin on my ugly mug. I’d run my guts out (because that’s me), but I’d have no real expectation of winning. Just having got to be in the same damn race as such a runner would make me feel like a champion. There’s certainly no dishonor in losing that race, and that’s how I feel about losing to Sir Terry Pratchett. I’m just so pleased to have had the honor of being on the same short-list. I could hardly lose to a better man or be gladder to see him win, as that last token of respect to one of the greatest writers our field has ever seen. Someone comforted me with the fact that he would never be eligible again. Well hell… If Sir Terry could come back and write for us, I’d happily volunteer to not win for just as long as he could write for. Not, frankly, that my winning is terribly likely, ever. CHANGELING’S ISLAND was a notch up for me. I don’t know if I will get that high again. That’s kind of unimportant. I was shortlisted with Sir Terry Pratchett. That’s plenty for my ego. My only ‘advantage’ is I’m not dead, and winning would maybe give me a career and sales lift to push me to write more. You can buy, review or just plain read my books if you feel that’s a good thing. There’s a Labor Day Sale on MGC and that includes TOM (picture is a link).
I’m delighted Larry Correia beat me in Fantasy award too. Son of the Black Sword is a great read, and very deserving winner. Just being short-listed in that category with Correia AND Butcher was enough to make me big-headed. CHANGELING’S ISLAND is YA so it didn’t belong there, and as I thought the field was split enough, I voted Larry Correia, and asked fans to consider doing the same. And lo it won. I’m sure one of the carpet sellers will soon complain.
One of the interesting things about the Dragon awards is that it fits my ‘game theory’ of how to make an award work.
An award of itself is a worthless thing.
I could start the Monkey Award tomorrow, and award it to Fred Sellsalot.
If Fred is delighted, puts ‘Monkey Award Winner’ on all his book covers the award gains prestige, gets better know, and is worth winning. If Fred ignores it, it dies.
If I give the inaugural Monkey Award to Marie Three-book-Sales… whether she loves it, hates it or denies winning… makes no difference.
BUT if Marie wins the award the year after Fred, she catches his tail-wind. If Marie has a good book that just never caught the wider public eye, that can be very good for the Monkey Award and her. If it’s not much fun, but very PC (which is why it sold 3 copies) then, well, the Award dies.
The same is true of the an Award with multiple categories – with one further addendum. Spread the net far and wide – SOMEWITHER is a great book, but a hard read, aimed at a specific bright audience (I have to laugh at the carpet salesmen’s hatey-hate of John Wright. He’s awful, they now assure us… except a few years ago, before they realized he drank beer and ate pork… they said he was brilliant) On the other hand Correia is very accessible, and gets a different market segment. Pratchett, the same is true. Then you have Weber, Novik – each with a different fan base, some cross-over. Nick Cole and Brian Niemeier are less well known, perhaps BUT both are really good reads. It’s a fine balance of popular names and less known authors with good offerings. There are people from across the political spectrum, probably in a close approximation of actual demographics. It’s a win for everyone, and, as a rising tide floats all boats (regardless of who they belong to) will help writers and the industry as a whole. Even the carpet bazaar will get a few extra customers out of it.
I believe the geniuses at file 770 response has been to say it gives them a list of authors not to buy. Yes, well that’s rather like the carpet sellers threatening not to buy pork or beer. The difference was the pork and beer sellers and their customers did buy carpets.
I think by next year we can expect carpet stalls.