Linda Nagata: the blog at Hahví.net


Going Dark–a Campbell Award finalist

Thursday, June 16th, 2016

GoingDark_200x358The list of finalists for this year’s John W. Campbell Memorial Award was just released, and I’m very pleased to report that Going Dark was included.

Back in 2014, The Red: First Light also made the list.

The Campbell Memorial award honors the best English-language science fiction novel published in the prior year.

For the full list of finalists, and information about the award, visit the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction.

Hugo Nominations

Thursday, March 24th, 2016

Going Dark: book 3 of The Red TrilogyThird post within 24 hours, because apparently I blog in flurries…

The deadline for Hugo Award nominations is March 31, just a few days away. For those eligible to nominate, I hope you’ll consider Going Dark in the best novel category when filling out your nomination ballot. The Trials is also eligible, if you’re truly enthusiastic. 😉

Another suggestion is a vote for my editor, Joe Monti, in the Editor/Long Form category — but not just because he had the courage and enthusiasm to publish me. In 2015, Joe launched Saga Press, a rapidly growing and much praised line of science fiction and fantasy, at a time when other SF imprints are disappearing. Click here to see some of the books published by Saga Press in their first year, 2015. Scroll through the pages and you’ll be able to see some upcoming titles.

Saga Press is an imprint of Simon & Schuster.

Awards: What are they good for?

Friday, March 4th, 2016

The Trials by Linda Nagata, UK editionIn a word: Publicity.

With thousands of books published every month (and all those earlier books still available, if not in print, then in ebook form) what are the odds of any particular book being noticed? Well, the odds are not good.

On occasion I will hear that “awards don’t matter” and for many titles this is true. They sell abundantly regardless of short lists. But I can say from personal experience that being short-listed for a significant award really does increase a book’s visibility, and I think it’s a safe bet that winning a significant award increases visibility exponentially. So, since I really don’t want to see my books quietly fade away, I’ve made it a point to try to get them considered for awards.

Going Dark by Linda Nagata, UK editionWith the Hugos and the Nebulas there’s not a lot you can do beyond saying “Hey, voters, please consider my book.” With other awards, the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, for example, the publisher has to send print copies of a qualified book to a jury of judges.

All three of the awards I just mentioned are open to all novels published in their area of interest in the award year, regardless of who the publisher is … in other words, they are technically open to self-published novels.

The Arthur C. Clarke Award
Much to my disappointment, another major award, the Arthur C. Clarke award, is not open to self-published novels. The Clarke Award is a juried award for best science fiction novel published in the United Kingdom, but when I asked if I could send in the UK editions of The Trials and Going Dark, I was told those books did not qualify because they had been published under my own imprint, Mythic Island Press LLC. (The North American edition is published by Saga Press/Simon & Schuster.)

Yes, I was disappointed, but I am not criticizing. The award administrators have a very challenging job as it is, and it’s certainly up to them to set the rules. I was also told that they are continuing to review their policy regarding self-published submissions.

Unlike most awards that I’m aware of, the Clarke Award releases a list of those books that have been submitted for consideration. This list of novels was published today. It includes 113 titles — with just 33% by women.

I would have loved to increase that percent just a little! Ah well.

I do encourage you to read the commentary that follows the list of books. There is some interesting analysis and a brief discussion on the focus of the award, and on the question of “What is science fiction?”

2014 Nebula Awards Nominations

Friday, February 20th, 2015

The 2014 Nebula Awards Nominations were published today. If you haven’t seen the list yet, you can find it here. A lot of the shorter fiction — those works published at Tor.com, Lightspeed, and Clarkesworld for example, are available to read online, so check those out if you get the chance.

Given the vast amount of fiction being published these days, the publicity that follows being nominated for an award like the Nebulas can be a real boost to a writer’s career, as I can personally attest after The Red: First Light was nominated last year in the novel category.

TRFL was initially self-published. (It’s being re-released by Saga Press/Simon & Schuster in June.) Back in December 2013 I posted on “Awards & Self-published Books” in response to Shaun Duke, who suggested there were logistical problems in considering self-published books for the major awards. If you’re interested in revisiting the discussion, my post includes links to Shaun’s, and there is a follow-up here.

A hearty congratulations to this year’s nominees!

Third!

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

Cover rebranding-- The Red: First LightSo this is kind of cool…

As I mentioned last month, The Red: First Light was included as one of fifteen nominees for the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, a juried award presented for the best science-fiction novel of the year. It didn’t win the award — that enviable honor went to Strange Bodies by Marcel Theroux — but as it turns out, it placed third, behind Paul McAuley’s Evening’s Empires. I’m happy with that.

The link above will fall out of date as time passes, so here’s a link to a PDF announcement detailing both the John W. Campbell Memorial Award results, and the associated Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for the best short science fiction.

The John W. Campbell Memorial Award

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

More good news for The Red: First Light! The novel has been honored as a finalist for The John W. Campbell Memorial Award. This must have been a good year for science fiction, because there are fifteen finalists — more than in any other recent year.

The Campbell Memorial Award is a juried award presented for the best science-fiction novel of the year. It’s considered one of the three major annual awards for science fiction, and is generally limited to science fiction — in other words, it does not consider fantasy novels. The award is administered by Christopher McKitterick, Director of the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas.

The winner has not been announced yet, though no doubt it will be soon. Again, I have no expectation of winning, but as with the Nebulas, it truly is an honor just to be nominated.

This is actually my second Campbell nomination. My novel Memory was nominated back in 2004 — something I never knew at the time. It was only in the last year or so that I discovered it on the list of nominees — a rather ironic surprise.

The full list of finalists can be found here.

And more information on the award itself can be found here.

2013 Nebula Nominee: The Red: First Light

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

Cover for The Red: First Light; digital painting by Dallas Nagata WhiteToday, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) announced the nominees for the 2013 Nebula Awards, to be presented in 2014. I don’t mind saying that I was a bit stunned but very pleased to learn that the The Red: First Light was on the novel shortlist.

Thank you to everyone who took time out to read the novel and recommend it to others, and who helped to get the word out! This was the first science fiction novel I wrote in over ten years. Given that span of time, it was really gratifying to know that readers were still interested in my work.

I haven’t done the research, but the consensus on twitter is that this is the first self-published novel to make the Nebula shortlist, which is kind of interesting. If you’d like to know why I chose to self-publish, here’s a post from last fall.

For SFWA members who’d like to read TRFL, ebook copies are available in the forum.

Congratulations to all the other 2013 Nebula nominees. To see the complete list, visit Locus Online.

More on Awards & Self-published Books

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

At the end of December I wrote a post “Awards & Self-published Books” as a response to Shaun Duke’s thoughts on the logistical problems of considering self-published books for literary awards.

Shaun has responded to my response, and while I have not persuaded him (and he has not persuaded me), he has some interesting thoughts. Here is his conclusion: (SP ==> self-published)

I’ve read some amazing SPed books, mostly by chance or word of mouth, but the field is so overwhelmed with people hoping they’ll be the next super rich SPer that it becomes nearly impossible to survey the field in any meaningful sense. I can’t effectively make those consumer evaluations because assessing the quality of a given work becomes nearly impossible. What is this author’s track record? I don’t know, because this is their first book. How do I know they got their book edited? I don’t. How do I know the words inside are better than the cheap cover on the outside? I don’t. How do I know they treated the writing process like a professional? I don’t. The gambles pile gets larger and larger…

All of which should be taken as excellent, persuasive reasons for indie writers to treat their book with at least the care a traditional publisher would take with it — and hopefully to exceed that level of care. As Shaun points out, the situation is especially challenging for a first-time novelist with no track record at all.

I offer no advice on whether to try for a traditional publishing career or to go indie. Everyone is different, and all of you will have to consider your own circumstances and ambitions, and decide for yourselves. What I do advise is to strive to sell in the short fiction markets to establish yourself, and to read, read, read — know your genre, and know what you like and why. What is it that sets the work of your favorite authors apart from all the others? Understand that, and translate the lessons into your own work.

As for getting super rich? Well, there is always the lottery. 😉

Read Shaun’s post in full here.

Awards & Self-published Books

Thursday, December 26th, 2013

Shaun Duke — who was kind enough to do a podcast interview with me last spring for his website skiffyandfanty.com — recently wrote an essay — “Self-Published Books vs. Literary Awards: A Logistical Problem?” It was a post that I found … troubling.

The main point of the essay is that there are so many books being published, both traditionally and independently, that logistics do not allow all books to be considered for literary awards, and that the simplest way to narrow the field and make the administration of an award more feasible is to limit that award to traditionally published books. My experience is with science fiction and fantasy, and in our field awards tend not to have this limitation. I would very much like to keep it that way.

I understand both the urge and the need of an awards committee to limit the number of qualified books and qualified authors. Every annual award presumably faces this challenge every year, because just the number of traditionally published books alone is staggering, and there will always be far more possible contenders for any award than there is time to consider them all.

The awards that might have the possibility of getting closest to the ideal of universal consideration may be the publically-voted awards like the storySouth Million Writers Award for short stories or the Locus Awards — but it’s not as if those who participate in the voting have read all the books. That will never happen with any award. The likely result is that awards like these probably have a very long-tail effect, in which many books and stories get only one vote, while a few, by better known authors, do far better.

The way I see it, there are two main purposes to a literary award: (1) to bring attention to specific books and authors, and by so doing (2) to shape the genre. Whether (1) & (2) come to pass or not, neither purpose is harmed or diminished by consideration of a self-published work.

Shaun asks: “why would SPed authors want to win these awards anyway?” That’s an easy one to answer: for the publicity and for the credibility. Every writer – traditional or not – is desperate to be better known, to sell just a few more copies. Some awards are great for this purpose; others, I’m sure, don’t make much difference to the bottom line, but can still be a moral victory. As for credibility, Shaun notes that “There’s crap in traditional publishing, too, but my experience has always been that it’s much easier to find good things in traditional publishing, whereas the inverse is still true in the self-publishing world.” This is still a common assumption, so credibility is extremely important for a writer who chooses to publish her own work.

I’m an author of six traditionally published science fiction novels, but with my last three novels I’ve turned to self-publishing, not because I think my new work is inferior, but because the business model makes more sense to me, and having more control over the production of my work makes me vastly happier. I am not now and have never been a well-known writer, so winning another award would definitely be a boost to my career. But if the open nature of the awards in our field change so that only books that come up through “the system” can be considered — that would consign me and former midlist writers like me to an outsider status because we’ve decided to do things a bit differently. Then, the only way to be taken seriously as a writer within the genre would be to return to traditional publishing, giving up creative control, and in many cases, making less money.

All that said, the problem Shaun noted still exists: too many books are published to consider all of them for awards. But it’s always been that way. Only select books are ever truly considered for most awards, and especially for juried awards. How are those selections made? Traditional publishers might pick what they consider their best two or three books. Other books might get positive word-of-mouth or recommendations from respected authors, or they might earn a spot because the author has a reputation as a novelist or short story writer. This is the old way of doing things, and while it isn’t entirely fair either, it at least avoids arbitrarily disqualifying books simply because of the way they came into print.