Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Yes ladies and gentlemen I can keep a secret...

I was very proud of myself yesterday. I actually did some editing on my WIP and some university study. So proud of myself that of course I am giving myself the day off today :)

Tomorrow the finalists for this years NZ Post Children's Book Awards are announced. This year they went back to the previous format of advising the finalists a few days before the list is made public. Last year the format was a subtle and ingenious form of torture whereby finalists were advised around six weeks before the public announcement but sworn to CIA-like secrecy. My picture book The Were-Nana was a finalist and I couldn't even tell my SO. It was really HARD as I was busting to share my GOOD NEWS the entire time but I felt very proud of myself that I said nothing. Yes ladies and gentlemen I can keep a secret (but get me to sign a form first). So this time last year everything was very bubbly and exciting. This year I am not on the list as I had no books published in the preceding year. Award finalist lists are powerful things (check out Fifi Colston's blog post on the topic here). Being a finalist makes a difference, and winning adds a whole other dimension of different on top. But its important to note that the difference it makes is different for different finalists and winners. It can affect book sales, author profile, author recognition, publisher interest, international interest and probably a few other things besides but it affects each of these things in different ways for different people. It is also important to note that there are plenty of really good books published that didn't make the list - lists by their very nature are limited to a certain number of titles and tastes and opinions will always vary. This is not a criticism of the awards so much as a request that folk don't dismiss the non-finalists. This year, from a distance, the awards (both last years and this years) are still having a profound affect on me, both good and bad. Those award lists can mess with your head, whether you are inside amongst it all or on the outside looking in.

PS - Now this is not to say that I think the awards are a bad idea. I was very proud and honoured to be shortlisted and a winner last year. The NZ Post awards are huge with lots of positive repercussions. They are an essential part of the writing/publishing industry and to make the list again one day is one of my goals. But this means I also have to have strategies for what happens when I don't make the cut. Not making the list has repercussions as well, and the more invested I become in this business the more it matters to me.


Old Kitty said...


Six weeks before the public announcement??!! You had to keep quiet about such momentous news for that long??! That's really, really.... er.. well sadistic. I'm sorry but that's just CRUEL.

You deserve a medal in your own right for not busting a gut trying to keep such a thing down. Well done you and well done The Were Nana!!!

Lists and making shortlists are really quite evil. They do mess with your head - they do bring out all the writerly self-doubts if you don't make it but they bring such high when you do make it.



Take care

Melinda Szymanik said...

Old Kitty, you are so right. I would not trade that high for anything but then not making the list is so...so...arghhhh! It is very diffuclt to reconcile the two. Its a bit like String Theory or Fermat's last theorem

SF said...

Six weeks! Good thing they saw sense this year.
Lists are tricky things. To have a shortlist you have to have a (much longer) list of people who aren't on it. But you know, give yourself a pat on the back when it's deserved. Well done on making it last year!