Indies Ante Portas or The Real Shocker about this Year’s Awards Nominations

In the past few days, the online SFF community has been ablaze with debates and discussions about the various genre awards, most notably the Hugos and the Clarke Award. I got into the frey, mainly by linking to other people’s posts, as well and in return, the traffic on my personal blog shot through the roof.

My own posts on the awards debate are here, here and here.

If you’ve read all the posts and links, your head is probably spinning by now. However, among all the talk of whether the Hugos and other genre awards are static or changing, whether they are changing too little or too much and whether they are changing in the right direction, there is one huge change that everybody seems to have missed:

For there is a self-published novelette on the Hugo shortlist. The novelette is In Sea-Salt Tears by Seanan McGuire, who garnered a record-breaking five Hugo nominations this year, and it’s available in PDF format at her site. Initially, I thought that one of the nominated novellas might be self-published as well, but turns out that it was published by a new e-press. Still, a self-published story has been nominated for a Hugo in one of the fiction categories, which is a true first.

The Hugos are not even the only genre award whose hallowed gates have been stormed by indie writers. For the 2013 BSFA Award given out by the British Science Fiction Association does not just boast a technically self-published book among the nominees – no, that title has actually won in the short fiction category. The book in question is the novella Adrift on the Sea of Rains by Ian Sales. Listed as the publisher is Whippleshield Books, a micro-press founded by writer Ian Sales.

When I started indie publishing, I always knew that there were some things I was giving up such as a certain degree of validation*, the opportunity to join organisations like the SFWA as well as the chance at winning awards. In the end, I decided to do it anyway, because I’ve never been sure whether I want to join a writers’ organisation anyway (besides, I could still qualify via selling to pro mags), I don’t really care what people who never liked my writing in the first place think of me and awards, while certainly nice, aren’t that important to me. After all, I rarely bothered to enter contests, even if I was eligible.

Nonetheless, I’m pleased to see that self-published works have broken into at least two major genre awards. We’ll probably be seeing more of this in the future.

*Most of my old offline writing pals – even if all they’ve ever had published was a poem in a non-paying lit mag or a chapbook with a regional small press – clearly frown on self-publishing. Not that anybody has ever said so to my face, but it’s kind of obvious.

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3 Responses to Indies Ante Portas or The Real Shocker about this Year’s Awards Nominations

  1. Pingback: Award me, baby, one more time | Cora Buhlert

  2. Ian Sales says:

    I’m not sure you can count the Seanan McGuire one as she has a massive fanbase – as is evidenced by the number of her appearances on the fiction shortlists. She’s also a published author, with a dozen or so books from major imprints to her name (and her pen-name).

    Adrift on the Sea of Rains, on the other hand, was the first book published by Whippleshield Books, is my first (self-)published “book”, and I only have around twenty short fiction sales to my name – mostly in small press anthologies.

    • Cora says:

      First of all, congrats on the BSFA Award win and the best of luck for Whippleshield Books.

      I agree that Seanan McGuire’s fanbase certainly helped to get her novelette nominated, but it still is a self-published work on the Hugo shortlist. And come to think of it, it does make sense that the first technically self-published works to break into the major genre awards would be authors with an established track record such as Seanan McGuire and yourself rather than a relative newcomer such as e.g. Hugh Howey.

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