The wonderful Sarah Hoyt (a writer who blogs, who is one of my favorite people) was talking about the “Art of the Human Condition” this morning over at her blog (read it here) and just what people seem to want. The quotes are mine, since it was hard for me to sum up the entirety of her message. But this got me thinking about how, a few years back, a good friend of mine and I broke down the Hugo and Nebula winners and saw a strange pattern develop.
Much like the Newberry Award, the Nebula Award seemed to go to books that didn’t sell too well but were critic faves (kinda like the Academy Awards). Meanwhile, the Hugo seemed to go to whoever was the “it” book at the current Worldcon where voting was taking place. We figured (rightly or wrongly, it was a few years ago) that an intermediate publicity push at the Worldcon could affect the voting upwards of 15%. He thought about how easy it would be for a writer to buy the Hugo Award, which I concurred.
Now, don’t get me wrong. This was two guys bullsh*tting around at a bar, tipsy and bored and trying to come up with ways to take over the world (Super large death rays? That’s so 1960’s…) or the literary world. We weren’t (and aren’t, so far as I know) planning on “buying” a Hugo award.
I don’t have that much money.
But… what sells? It’s very hard for a writer to determine what is going to be popular. Twenty years ago, when Interview with a Vampire first came out, could any of us imagines that vampires who sparkle in daylight and stalk teenaged girls in their sleep because they lvoe them would be popular? Yes, I have an odd hatred/fixation for sparkly vampires. Next thing someone’s going to do is say that werewolves love infants (and not in the “snack food” sort of way).
It’s impossible for us to predict what’s going to happen, what’s going to be popular. As Sarah said, we suck at sensing how “good” our own work is. How are we to know if it’s any good? We’re our own worst critics.
That being said, now think about how hard it is for us to think about the various writing awards out there. Would I love to win a Newberry? Depends. Will it increase my sales? Will it make my books more popular? Will it finally make me as cool as LeVar Burton (that’ll never happen, by the way)?
Who knows (other than being as cool as LeVar… the man just oozes cool) what’ll happen in the next few years. I’m 100% certain I won’t win any awards for Corruptor, and feel the same about And Injustice For All (though that one may get me sued one day… fracking James Hetfield).
But, as I said before, authors are the worst judge of their own creations.