Here comes awards season!
Pro writers have been given a great resource in Mary Robinette Kowal’s post at the SFWA Blog “How to deal with self-promotion and award season” —
Let’s talk about self-promotion and how it feels icky.
Yes, self-promotion is awkward to do the first time. Yes, it is very easy to do badly. But–it is incredibly important to your career.
She offers eight effective strategies to help writers advance themselves for awards in a more civil manner.
What about fans? I think there’s something for them in her post, too.
We fans don’t have careers, per se. We’re supposedly just here having a good time. But let’s be honest. It’s common for fans to seek attention and validation in any number of ways – throwing renowned parties, headlining a filksing, publishing the best art, chairing cons.
And awards? Some crave that kind of recognition, even if many are happy to let the chips fall where they may. Whether awards genuinely meet any inner need is a subject for another day (my quick take – they don’t). That said, as long as events like the Hugos, Nebulas, etc. are central events of the sf community, plenty of people will dream of writing or painting something that earns them a place on that stage. Expressed in those terms it’s a great dream to have. Only beware of turning the dream into an irritating campaign.
People who will put up with being nudged to vote for a Worldcon bid will often bridle at the same kind of campaigning for an award. Maybe it’s the gift psychology at work – it’s rude to demand a gift. Or perhaps it’s a twinge of ethics – awards should go to the best work, and soliciting a vote may also imply a solicitation to bypass the process of fairly evaluating the competition.
It’s hard to keep the ickiness out of self-promotion. Anyone who sent out barefaced vote-for-me e-mails during last year’s Hugo nominations period should promptly enroll in Kowal’s charm school. And (here’s the carrot) it will undoubtedly improve any chance they have of reaching their goal.