Tag Archives: Aurora Awards

Your Regularly Scheduled Program

7 Sep

It’s been over five weeks since I’ve posted anything new here at Bundoran Press’ blog — so I guess it’s time to return to a more regular schedule. I’m not sure if I can maintain a weekly post here while still doing my daily posts at 10 Minutes of Words and striving to blog monthly over on Hayden’s Hubris but we’ll start today and see where that takes us.

August was a busy month personally but I did manage to complete some publishing work while roaming across Canada and parts of Europe.

I’ve been working on the final edits to M. Darusha Wehm’s novel, Children of Arkadia. They should have been done today but I still have a few more chapters to go. The book is slated for release in the spring — probably launched at Ad Astra in early April — but I hope to have it pretty well ready to go by late October so I can spend a good five months pre-marketing it. There’s not a ton of cash in the advertising budget but sometimes effort over time can be just as effective. No spoilers yet but it’s in the vein of a dystopic utopia with space stations, artificial intelligences and love.

I’ve also completed the first editorial suggestions for our other spring release, the second volume of Alison Sinclair’s Plague Confederacy series. Contagion: Eyre looks to be even more exciting than the first book. It’s already in pretty good shape and, if I put my nose to the grindstone, I’m sure I can have it ready to go by the end of November, giving me four months to push for reviews and pre-release publicity. Everything in the publishing business is about building buzz.

I also managed to sit down with Edward Willett while we were both at When Words Collide (WWC) in Calgary and had a good conversation about where we need to go with the first draft of his new space opera, Falcon’s Egg — a follow-up to Right to Know, which SFRevu called ‘wildly entertaining.’ We have a longer lead time for this book, as it is slated for release in August of 2015. I’m hoping to get it near completion by the end of March.

Also at WWC, the launch of Al Onia’s Javenny was a great success. We sold so many books that I had to get Al to give back his author’s copies when we ran out. (Don’t worry; I mailed him some more on my return to Ottawa).

I had a presence as both author and publisher at LonCon III, where I sat on several panels and met many old and new friends in the field. On Sunday, we had a small book reception where we were able to introduce a couple of dozen people to our product line. We certainly had fun if nothing else comes of it.

In eight more days (September 15), submissions open for our new anthology, Second Contacts, which I will be editing with Michael Rimar. You can see the listing on Ralan.com and Duotrope and read the full guidelines on our web-site. We will be receiving stories until January 15th with a view to releasing the book in October of next year. In the meantime, I’m reading a few solicited submissions for novels for release in 2016. More to follow.

Publishing continues to be challenging for everyone. I had a number of conversations with publishers, editors and writers that brought that home this summer. Being visible, delivering the product to readers, finding the optimal price point to maximize incomes for creators and meet the needs of the bottom line are challenges that all publishers — large, small and self-publishers alike — face. Not everyone succeeds in overcoming them and I’ve heard rumours of some further consolidations in the field. However, I’ve also heard some interesting ideas for innovative solutions to our problems, too, so I remain optimistic. More on that later.

Still, it was no fun to come home to the news that Quebec-based Lebonfon Printing is closing their doors at the end of October. They’ve been a major force in Canadian printing for a number of years and were our printer for most of the books published in the last two years. Marquis, also in Quebec, is acquiring some of their assets. I’ve dealt with Marquis before so I’m not worried about any loss of quality. But with one fewer company in an already narrow field, I suspect prices may rise — not something that makes me happy.

On that note, I’d like to direct your attention to our new fund raising campaign on Patreon. For as little as a dollar a month (or, better yet, the cost of a latte a month), you can help make sure that Bundoran will continue to publish quality science fiction into the future. We’re passing out a few nifty benefits, too. So please take a look and consider contributing. And don’t worry: you’ll hear more about this in the coming months.

Publishing News and Notes

Resolve by Neil Godbout is a finalist for Best YA Novel in the Canadian SF Aurora Awards. Bundoran partner, Mike Rimar, was nominated in the short story category. Voting has now ended and the winners will be announced at VCon in Vancouver the first weekend of October.

Angry Robot books closes two of its imprints.

You think it took a long time for your novel to be published? Margaret Atwood has to wait 100 years.



And the winner is…

15 Sep

Now that voting has ended for the Prix Aurora Awards, it seems timely to talk about why awards are important. And why they aren’t quite what they appear to be. For those who don’t know, the Aurora Awards are the Canadian fan-voted award for speculative fiction. They are similar to the Hugo Awards that were recently awarded at WorldCon in San Antonio – though there are fewer award categories. I’ve been nominated as an author eight times and won twice for short fiction. This year I’m nominated as an editor in the category “Related Work,” for the anthology Blood and Water. The prizes will be handed out at Ottawa’s CanCon where I’m Editor Guest of Honour and MC for the awards ceremony.

Awards are lovely. It’s nice to be nominated – even nicer to win. Even better, they’re fun to complain about. My favorite complaints about the Hugos this year were the competing conspiracy ones. According to John Ringo, the best novel award went to John Scalzi because of a liberal and feminist cabal. From the other direction, an anti-female bias robbed Mary Robinette Kowal of a nomination in the novelette category. And, of course, everyone has an opinion as to who should have been nominated and who shouldn’t. There is probably even a list somewhere of who should have won based on literary hindsight.

Of course none of this outrage comes close to the kerfuffle over the win by James Kelman of the Mann Booker Prize for How Late It Was, How Late. One of the judges threatened to resign if it won – and when it did, she did and subsequently called the book ‘crap.’ Numerous literary mavens declared the end of civilization. Book reviewers either loved it or despised everything associated with it. Kelman gave a spirited defense of his book and happily took the $50,000 prize. I liked the book. Was it the best book in the English language in 1994? Somebody obviously thought so.

Awards are what they are, a combination of popular appeal, recognition of literary merit, deliberate contrariness or pandering on the part of ‘judges’ (whether a committee of 5 or 1500 voting fans – they are all judges). Public personae of prize winners play a role no doubt – whether positive or negative – as does sentiment and anger from the selectors. I do get annoyed at those who think it’s just a popularity contest – a claim, especially when made by those who are eligible to be nominated, that is the grown up equivalent of ‘nobody likes me, everybody hates me, I’m going to eat some worms.’

Having said that, I’m sure being known, making an effort to be ‘out there,’ presenting yourself as likable or interesting or smart, does play a role in getting nominated. So what? If nobody knows or, worse yet, cares who you are, why would they nominate your work? It is, especially in the 21st century, part of the process. Writers are a brand – marketing is part of what they do.

On the other hand, ‘merit’ is a relative thing. “De gustibus non est disputandum;” “á chaque, son goût;” every language has an expression to say: to each, their own. Still, bad books and stories generally don’t get nominated for significant awards. You must have achieved a high level of ability to even be considered. Occasionally the system can be gamed (there is a perhaps apocryphal story of someone buying enough World Con memberships to get their name on the ballot – though they then finished dead last in voting) but it’s rare, difficult and the rules are soon changed to make sure it doesn’t happen again.  And then there is the John Wayne factor, who got an Oscar late in his career, as much, perhaps, because of his longevity as for the role he played. Or Peter O’Toole, who never won despite 8 nominations and was finally given a lifetime achievement award.

Do awards matter? No doubt. How much they matter depends on the award. The Mann Booker, the IMPAC, the Orange, the Pulitzer, the Giller, the Governor General’s Award (in Canada and Australia) all have a nice cash prize attached (from $10,000 to £100,000) which certainly doesn’t hurt. More importantly, perhaps, they lead to a significant increase in books sales both for the winning book but for subsequent books by the winner. Prizes matter to writers but they matter to publishers and book sellers, too. And, clearly, they matter to readers. No wonder people get so snippy about who gets nominated and who wins.

Of course the farther down the pecking order an award goes, the less impact it has financially. I can’t honestly say that winning two Auroras and being nominated for a Sunburst (the juried award for SF in Canada) sold a ton of books. But they did sell a few and they certainly helped raise my credibility and, I might add, the credibility of the publishing house I now own. Perhaps most importantly, the psychological boost an award or even a nomination gives a writer is amazing. It’s a lonely profession and, despite impressions to the contrary, most writers are not brimming over with self-esteem. Having someone tell them that they like their work – or maybe that they like them – is one of the things that keep writers writing.

So I say: congratulations to every nominee, huzzahs to every winner. And to those who think they know better, create your own award or get used to the taste of sour grapes.