7/20/09

Recommended by Moi—Does Anyone Care?

What are your favorite LDS novels? Which do you recommend?

Over the years that I've been doing this blog, I've gotten this question many, many, many times—at least a few times a month. Another variation on theme that I get several times a year is, would I consider creating an LDSP award for the best books?

I've mostly ignored these questions because I have a hard enough time finding and reading all the Whitney nominees. The task of finding and reading every novel by an LDS author would be outside my current resources—both in time and finances.

Then there's the possible backlash—accusations of favoritism to friends and genres; promoting books I've worked on, blah-blah-blah. If I give an award to one book, will people think I'm dissing all others? Also, there are a select few individuals who know my secret identity, and I might not give an award to them. Will they hate me forever?

Therefore, my answer has always been No.


But recently I've gotten a deluge of people asking me about this, which has caused me to do some rethinking. I want to be seen as a trusted source of general and unbiased information here on these sites—and I think I've accomplished that for the most part. Any LDS author can get their novel and author events listed for free, simply by letting me know about it. The networking is open to any LDS author, publisher or group (it is just taking me some time to get them posted). The only site that has judgment or opinion attached is the LDS Fiction Review site, and there are a variety of reviewers there.

So a few questions for you are:
  • Do you really care which books I'd recommend?
  • If I came out with an award for the best of the best (IMHO), would that skew the value of any other information I post on these sites?
  • Would you be willing to send me a copy of your book to read—knowing that it may not be chosen for the award, but that by sending a copy you were guaranteed to:

    —be considered for the award

    —have it passed along to one of the LDS Fiction Review reviewers for review

    —get its spot on LDS fiction

    —move you up on the "Add to LDS Author Network site" list?

    —get you listed on the LDSP Good Reads shelf (which does not yet exist but will be created if I decide to do this)

    —get you added as a friend on the LDSP Facebook account (which does not yet exist but will be created if I decide to do this)
What do you think? Great idea or one to be tossed in File 13? Ideas? Suggestions?

27 comments:

Karen Gowen said...

Glad to see you back online LDSP! I missed your daily posts, although I rarely comment I definitely have one for today. And that is a big YES! Because, you're blog site is listed everywhere on LDS writing sites, you are respected as a voice in LDS publishing (maybe because you're anonymous?) and because we authors are all eager and anxious for our books to be reviewed and noticed. So count me in, Yes, I think all those ideas are fantastic and I support all of them!

Karen Gowen said...

And oops! I really do know the difference between "you're" and "your".

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

totally with Karen! Yes, yes, Yes! Heck, I'd send you a book for free just for the honor of knowing you'd read it!

Aubrey said...

I think it's a great idea and I would be happy to send you a book for review. I would definitely be interested to see which books you would recommend.

Weston Elliott said...

but you already have a review site. Why bother with a second? if people really wanted to know what you thought of books, wouldn't they just run over there to look? Can't someone already send you a book for review over there?

While awards are appealing (the vanity of us writers is always looking for validation!) it seems a little redundant to me.

Why make extra work for yourself? :)

LDS_Publisher said...

Weston,

Yes, you can already send me a book for a review over there, but I won't necessarily read it myself. I may have a secret life, but split personalities?? (I'm only slightly nuts.) Those reviewers are people whose arms I've twisted to help me out and I may or may not agree with their review.

Also, I'm not talking about a review site. I'm talking about a list and an award that authors can put on their blogs.

Anonymous said...

So you want to do an award? Really? That sounds like so much work. If you do it, you're gonna need to find your own nitch. Here's a thought about nitch hunting:

The Whitney award is pretty much an insider industry professional award given by authors to authors. Its true that any reader or auto mechanic can nominate a novel, and its also true that the five finalist are selected by industry insider professionals that represent publishers, booksellers and authors. But the winner is selected by industry insider authors. Not publishers. Not booksellers. Not readers. The Whitney awards is pretty much an
"Author's Choice Award". Its authors telling other authors that they like their work. That's great. Its like going to a conference with other authors and getting a professional award from your peers.

If LDS Publisher gave an award it would be another industry insider award. But instead of a panel of industry professional authors, you (the panel of one) would be a panel of industry insider publishing professionals.

If you want to follow the LDS PUBLISHER nitch that you've created, you may want to develop the "Publisher's Choice Awards" which would allow you a slightly different nitch than the Whitneys.

To avoid a conflict of interest, solicit the top three or five novel selections from each publishing house. Tally the result to get your finalists. You may even want to stipulate that the publisher is allowed five selections in each category and at least one must be from another publishing house. And publishers who don't have works in all categories can still make selections. Then LDS Publisher makes the final choice from the three or five finalists in each category.

This is something you could manage fairly easily, without too much work. There aren't too many LDS publishers out there. And all they have to do is have their managing editor send you their list of three or five in each category.


And you have it. The LDS Publisher's Choice awards.

Tristi Pinkston said...

I do need to beg to differ with Anon's comment here: But the winner is selected by industry insider authors. Not publishers. Not booksellers. Not readers. The Whitney awards is pretty much an
"Author's Choice Award".

The Whitney Academy is made up of all those persons Anon says aren't involved - publishers, sellers, etc. Each of the publishers and each of the bookstores have been given ballots and their votes are counted just as much as everyone else's. If Anon would like to go take a look at the Whitney website at http://www.whitneyawards.com/academy.html there is a listing there of the members of the Academy and there are many other industry professionals besides authors. The list of retailers is longer than the list of authors.

Tristi Pinkston said...

And should Anon be interested, several of the authors listed are not members of LDStorymakers. Over twenty, in fact.

Anonymous said...

Tristi:

To be fair we really should examine the entire quote rather than the last phrase. Here's what I wrote in its entirety:

The Whitney award is pretty much an insider industry professional award given by authors to authors. Its true that any reader or auto mechanic can nominate a novel, and its also true that the five finalist are selected by industry insider professionals that represent publishers, booksellers and authors. But the winner is selected by industry insider authors. Not publishers. Not booksellers. Not readers. The Whitney awards is pretty much an
"Author's Choice Award".

With the exception Shanda Cottam, founding member of LDS Women's Book Review and Sheila Stanley whose biography says she is a budding writer and also with LDS Women's Book Review, there are no Whitney Award Judges who represent any group other than published authors (28 out of 30 judges). Here's a link to the Whitney Award Judging Committees.

Besides Shanda and Sheila do any represent a publishing house or a retailer or a reader? None. These judges make the final selection. They choose the winner. The Whitney Awards is an Author's Choice Awards. That's a wonderful thing. Its professional writers honoring and recognizing professional writers. There's nothing wrong with that.

It also gives LDP Publisher a nitch where she can build a different kind of award. In fact, a third "Reader's Choice" award would also be cool. And a fourth "Retailer's Choice Award" (which used to be offered by the LDS Bookseller's Association) would also be fun.

We could have a discussion here about how having three or four different awards would point out the different bias authors, publishers, retaliers, and readers hold, but that's not what this discussion is about.

Should LDS Publisher offer an award? That's the question I tried to answer. I think there is a nitch here she could exploit. A nitch that isn't filled by the Whitney Awards. But if your claim is, indeed true and the Whitney Awards actually represent the combined selection of readers, publishers, retaliers and authors (a claim which I disupte) then there probably isn't any room for LDS Publisher to go ahead with an award except for the sheer advertising potential it presents for her website, rather than a service to the LDS fiction writing, publishing, selling and reading community. Which is a whole different discussion.

Anonymous said...

Tristi:

And, as an afterthought, if the Whitney Awards were to claim fair representation of the entire fiction writing, publishing, retailing and reading communities, then the final judging panel should include authors, former publishers or editors, retailers, and readers in a fairly even distribution. Right now it is skewed toward only one segment of that community. Published Authors.

Wouldn't it be cool to have the LDS storymaker's conference each year, and during lunch on the first day give out the Publishers Choice Award. Then at dinner the first evening do the Readers Choice Award. Then at Lunch on day two award the retailers choice awards. And then, in the grand finale, on closing night award the Whitney?

Just a thought.

Tristi Pinkston said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tristi Pinkston said...

I admit that I misread Anon's statement and it is true that the Whitney judges, who select the final five in each category, are primarily made up of authors. The vote then goes to the Academy, which is comprised of industry professionals from authors, to bookstores, to publishers, etc. I apologize for misquoting.

As far as LDSP's award goes, though, I think if it's an LDSP award, it should be chosen by LDSP. If the publishers were to send her their top five, that's not a real representation of what's good and what's not good - that's just a representation of what's popular.

Marny said...

I don't care about an LDSP award, but I think a recommended reading list would be interesting. (And a lot less work.)

Anonymous said...

Tristi:

Every award is a representation of what's popular.

A Publisher's Award would be what is popular among publishers. They usually like something that fits into an already proven genre. Something that is an acceptable length. Written by a proven author who doesn't write something too long and make them spend money on extra paper. They also like authors who spell correctly, don't require too much editing time, don't need to be coddled, and get their stuff in on time. That makes the author's work popular among publishing professionals.

A retailer's choice award is usually something that is popular among those who hawk books. That usually means something that is easy to sell. Usually a topic that is hot will sell. Retailer's typically select novels that are in the hot category. Vampires stories this year. Magician fantasy stories last year. And next year it will be...gottcha, you thought I was going to predict the next big thing, didn't you?

A Reader's choice award is something that usually has great word of mouth. Lots of readers are talking about it, reccomending it. It also includes the marketing department. If they put a lot of ad dollars into it, then there will be a lot more readers and a chance for more word of mouth to get going. Reader's choice award tends to reward story, with a lot less concern for pros, technique, copy editing, etc. Those are the things that industry pros. are supposed to take care of so the reader can enjoy the story. If the story is strong, who cares about the rest of it. The reader's choice award tends to reward inventiveness, creativity, compelling plot lines.

The Whiteny Awards are, for the most part, a representation of what is popular among published authors. They tend to like novels written by author's they like or to whom they have an affinity. Kindred Spirits. There is a tendency to reward new, rising stars because authors know what it takes to get published and they tend to want to reward the new kids on the block, make them feel like their work is valued. Author's tend to also like novels that deal with the same genre in which they write. That may explain why the Whitney Awards tend to reward romance in other genre categories outside of romantic fiction--the judges who were mostly romance fiction writers were rewarding something they were familiar with and which they appreciated.

Every award is a popularity contest. It just depends on what group is doing the awarding.

Sue said...

Personally, I think putting together another award might be a lot of time for very little payoff. I don't know that awards really interest very many people other than authors who might win them.

I'm with Marne - it would be very interesting to see a one-time list of a few of your favorite LDS reads (kind of a "greatest hits" type of thing) but not an awards thing.

Julie Wright said...

I think a list of your favorites would be fun but running an all out contest DOES sound time consuming. I think you should do what you can handle and no more. Like you, I have a hard time getting all the Whitney's read. I cannot imagine how much time it would take to read everything.

And to get in on the anon/tristi debate, I just want to clarify a few things: The whitney awards can be nominated by *anyone* as you said Anon.

From those nominees, five in each category are selected by the whitney award judging committees which is made of primarily *authors*.

From the five finalists, a winner is chosen by the academy. The academy is made up of publishers, retailers, authors, reviewers, and industry specialists.

So Anon, I'm just keeping you straight here: the final winner in each category is selected by the academy which is made up of *everyone* in the industry not just authors. This means it is not an award to authors by authors.

Anonymous said...

Anon,

It's niche, not nitch. Just had to get that off my chest.

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Julie:

You're right. I was mis-informed. I also spelled niche wrong. More than once.

So I must change my opinion entirely given this new information. The Whitney awards are, indeed, an award from all sectors of the LDS novel world, publishers, authors, retailers and you could could reviewers as the "reading" public.

I stand corrected.

Sorry LDSP, there isn't any room for your award. How about an LDSP award.

I have gained a much higher opinion of the Whitney Award as well. Thanks Julie. You have enlightened.

I really should have read the rules more closely. Its right there in black and white.

Becky said...

I like the idea of seeing a list of your favorites. If you had the time and resources for something more elaborate that would be nice too. But I would think maintaining your anonymity for such an award would be complicated.

Tristi Pinkston said...

Anon,

I understand that about popularity. But if it's an LDSP award, then it should be an award given to a book that's popular with her, should it not? If the publishers simply send her their picks and she chooses from those, that's not really giving her much to choose from.

Anonymous said...

Tristi:

Using your logic, you could say the same thing about the Whitney awards. The panel gives the retailers, publishers, authors, and reviewers five choices. That's not a lot to pick from. The Whitney Judging panel acts as the filter, sifting through all the nominations and then presenting their selection for a vote.

I'm just suggesting you reverse the order. Let the publishers suggest the finalists and have LDSP make the final selection. At least then we'd know if LDSP has gone mad and what her preferences are.

Anonymous said...

We'd also find out if you were friends with LDSP if Agent in Old Lace one every category. Maybe you are her.

Anon

PS: That couldn't be. Because I'm her. Or am I?

Melanie Goldmund said...

When I lived in the U.S. many years ago, you could buy greeting cards from a certain company that had a "bite" taken out of the back page, and the comment "sign of good taste."

Why not do something similar here? Instead of an award, why not just make an official sticker with two big R's on it, and in fine print, the words "read and recommended by LDSPublisher"?

Tristi Pinkston said...

Anon -

I thought one of the lines of your logic was for LDSP to find her own niche, something different from the Whitneys?

Noble M Standing said...

I like the idea. I'm sure I am not the only one interested in what others think about books in the LDS realm. But ultimately isn't the decision up to you?

I have a feeling that anonymous has a serious problem with the Whitneys. Wasn't there an anonymous antagonistic commenter when LDSP was talking about the Whitneys in April? Sounds like they are the same. It seems to me that anonymous stalks this blog just waiting for an oportunity to bash the Whitneys.

While they are entitled to thier opinion, it's geting old. I'm sure I'm not the only one who thinks so either. If anonymous is so concerned about a LDS literary award with a specific judging system, they should create their own. Maybe then we could find out their identity. LOL

LDS_Publisher said...

All of you have made great points. Thanks for the feedback. Still thinking about it. . .

And yes, I am both Tristi Pinkston and ANONYMOUS. Despite denying it in a previous comment, I admit that I have split personalities and love to argue with myself in blog comments.