Author Etiquette - Awards and Award Etiquette

by Jennifer 31. January 2018 09:56

Now that 2017 has officially ended, it’s time to start thinking about AWARDS. There are all types of awards. Some are for artwork, some specifically for poetry, still others are for a particular genre or subgenre. Each type of award has its own set of rules on who can apply and at what time. There are also rules on who may or may not vote for particular awards. Today we are going to discuss different types of awards, who qualifies, the etiquette of being nominated, and of course, why awards matter.


Why Awards Matter

Some people might wonder why awards matter? For some, they don’t. Many great authors never win any awards at all. But for some, it’s a goal post that they would like to achieve. Different authors have different interpretations on what makes awards matter. They range from:

  • Becoming a professional
  • Networking opportunities
  • Agent or publishing deals
  • Awards being a “gold star” on a bibliography
  • Attention from fans and other professionals
  • Possibly more sales

All of these interpretations, and more, are good reasons for every author to locate and post what works they have available for many different types of awards. Some may take work to find, but they can be a fun way to connect with more readers.  



First, before anything else, find out what the awards are about, who puts them on, and what are the nomination requirements. No matter what kind of award is out there, there are rules. Be sure to read and understand them. Follow the rules and etiquette associated with them.


Types of Awards

If you’ve seen an influx of posts from your favorite authors on the works they published in the previous year, you know it’s nomination time again. For convenience, many authors compile their work into a single post so that readers can easily find yearly works, not only because someone might have missed a release, but to help refresh a reader’s minds on what they read the previous year. Many authors would love to have their works nominated for Industry awards, but Fan and personal awards are also greatly appreciated.


Industry Awards

Industry awards are given out by professional organizations and some large professional conventions in the industry. Most major writing organizations such as SFWA (Nebulas), HWA (Stokers), RWA (RITA Award) and IAMTA (Scribe) have their own awards and their own set of rules about who can nominate and who can vote. A few large conventions such as World Con (Hugos) have their own industry awards. These awards are usually the pinnacle of the genre and highly sought after.


Smaller lesser known awards like Ursa Major Awards (for Anthropomorphics) are given out by groups who specialize in particular sub genres. Other industry awards include awards given out to authors who live in a particular area or state.


Most of these professional awards limit voting to either members of the organization. attendees of the convention, or to a select group of judges familiar with the genre or subgenre.


Fan Awards

Fan awards are awards that are voted upon by fans. A fan award can be very large such as the Dragons (DragonCon) or small such as an award held on a book promotion site. These are often open voting awards where authors solicit votes from their fans.


While often not as well known or even prestigious, these awards can get your books in front of more readers, so although it takes time and effort, they are worth pursuing.


Personal Awards

Personal awards are often given by individuals such as bloggers or sometimes even other authors. While they are mainly a “Best of” list, they still hold weight in the minds of readers. It can be a great honor to receive a personal award, especially if you receive one of these from your own favorite author!


Who Qualifies for Awards?

Everyone qualifies for some award or another. (Note: qualify does not equate to winning.) The deciding factor is reading the rules of the awards you want to be submitted for and following them. Most newly published works from the previous year are eligible for awards; however, some awards have cut off dates before the end of the year, so read closely. Other awards require that you be a member of a group or live in a particular state or region. If you don’t qualify, don’t apply.


Award Etiquette

Being awarded or even nominated for an award is a great honor, but there are right and wrong ways of going about getting on the ballot. The etiquette of being nominated for industry awards can be complicated while fan awards can wear you down because you are soliciting votes. Always be sure of the rules for each kind of award you are being nominated for and the etiquette attached to such awards.


Publication Lists

Many authors put together a list of works that are eligible for nomination. These lists contain novels, novellas, short stories, and even blog posts that they’ve written in the previous year. While an author might have other stories out, some could be reprints which are not eligible or other works that don’t fit into specific division. Often authors will list categories such as novel, short story, editor, or nonfiction work to help people classify the work. Posting a list of eligible works is not soliciting for votes in most cases.


Recommended Reading Lists

Organizations, groups, forums, and even individuals may create lists of works that they enjoyed. Often works on the list are grouped by year, although they can be grouped by genre or subgenre, relativity to the group, or other category. Works on the list may or may not be eligible for awards depending on the publication date. Recommended reading lists are often a head’s up for works that people enjoy; however, if a group posts the recommended lists and pushes that list, it could be considered a slate.


Vote Solicitation

Solicitation of votes occurs when an author specifically asks people to vote for them. For industry awards this is considered bad form; however in some fan and personal awards this is considered okay. If you are unsure of the etiquette of an award read the rules first. If things are unclear, then ask either other professionals who have been nominated before, the committee, governing body of the award, or do some research. For the most part, do not solicit votes on industry awards.


Slates and Log Rolling

For many awards slates and log rolling are two ways to “beat the system” and win an award. These are frowned upon tactics. Many industry awards have created rules to either diminish the usefulness of such tactics or eliminate them altogether.


In a slate, a group or individual produces a list of works to nominate and vote upon. If a group then votes for those works on the list, it increases the chances that those works will appear on the final ballot and then win the award.


Log rolling is a practice of requesting votes on particular work for favors. These favors can range from promoting someone else's work, recommending preferential treatment, or other favors.



Each award has its own rules on how an author or works get on the nomination list. Publishers, publicists, fans, editors, and other authors can nominate a work for consideration for many awards. For the most part, an author does not nominate themselves, but there are some exceptions. If an indie or self published author wants to submit a work for consideration as a publisher, that can be acceptable for some awards (but read the rules).


Do note that to be included in some awards, you might be required to release copies of your work to the voting body. Other awards just require publication information such as release date, publisher, and other publication information.


You can direct readers, fans, and family members to where works can be nominated, however, suggesting your work is generally frowned upon.


Preliminary Ballots

Some awards have a preliminary ballot that compiles the top few works in each category. For large awards where many works are nominated this narrows the field down to a few for the final vote.


If your work makes it to a preliminary ballot it is a good idea to make some sort of post about it. However, do not solicit votes. DO be sure your work is available for reading to the voting body. Discuss this with your publisher on what you need to do if necessary.


Final Ballot

If you do happen to make it onto the final ballot, first congratulations!  Do make other people aware that your name is on the list and where to find your work. Again, don’t ask for votes. There’s a few other things you’ll need to do.


For smaller awards such as personal awards or smaller awards held on blog sites, composing a thank you to those who voted for you is always a great idea. It’s great content for your platform even if you don’t win. Talk about your experiences and what you’ll do next time.


Industry and the larger fan awards awards are a bit more complex. Many times there is some sort of banquet or celebration for these awards. You, of course are invited to go if you so choose. Do be sure to find out more about the awards and what is expected. Many of these award ceremonies are hours long and are followed by various other activities. Even if you do not think you have a chance of winning, do write out an acceptance speech--you never know.


During the award, do be a good participant. Because only a few works will win, do be realistic. If you win be graceful. It is okay to be upset if you lose. Try to have fun the rest of the evening.


Pay attention to what awards people are talking about in the next few months. Even if you have nothing for nominations this year, you still have 11 months until the cycle starts again. Keep writing, learning, and honing your craft and your name will appear in some awards in the future.


Good luck.


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