Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Whitney Awards Q&A

by Robison Wells
Jeff is going to be blogging for real today. But this week I'll probably post here several times, answering questions and concerns about the Whitney Awards.

The Whitney Awards were announced to the public yesterday, and there has already been an overwhelming flood of support. Several questions have popped up in several places, so I'm going to try to address some of them today. I'll probably answer more tomorrow.

What are the six categories?

Currently, we plan for the 2007 awards to include the following:
Romance/Women's Fiction
Science Fiction/Fantasy
Novel of the Year
Best Novel by a New Author

What about YA?

Very good question. Admittedly, it's still being hotly debated within the Whitney Awards Committee. At this point, it could still go either way.

The reasoning for leaving it out is this: most YA books can fit into another category, be it romance or fantasy or whatever. But more importantly, the number of titles released in the LDS market has taken a significant plunge since two or three years ago. (I don't have the exact figure in front of me, but I seem to recall it was about 76 titles last year, compared to 110 or so three years ago.) We in the Whitney Committee have to walk a fine line between giving too many awards (making the awards less-meaningful) and omitting important awards (making the awards less-effective).

This is the same reason that seemingly disparate genres--such as Romance and Women's Fiction--have been combined into a single category. It's definitely not a perfect system. The whole purpose of the awards are to increase the quality and quantity of LDS authors--I would love nothing more than to give away an award in every single genre, if that meant that there were enough terrific books in every genre to support individual awards.

I can't get the nomination form to work. What's wrong?

Good question. When we tested the forms, they were working fine. Even now, some of the nominations have been coming through. But I know that some aren't. I'm going to spend all evening fixing the dang thing, and making sure that it doesn't happen again. As part of that, I'll include our general nomination email address, so that even if you can't make the form work (at the moment it's seeming to require that you have Outlook set up on your computer) then you can just email your nominations directly.

Sorry. I'll get it fixed today.

If this is an awards program sponsored by the LDStorymakers, and all the members of the committee are LDStorymakers, won't there be favortism shown to other LDStorymakers? Will they show favortism to authors from their same publisher? Same genre?

Nope. Or, at least, we're doing our darnedest to ensure that will not happen. There are two checks in place:

First of all, the committee. As president, I tried to select a committee with varying backgrounds, and a committee that was well-read and respected. Here's the list of committee members, along with their publishers and their genres:

Rob Wells: Covenant; Humor, Suspense
Crystal Liechty: Cedar Fort; Romance
Kerry Blair: Covenant; Humor, Suspense, Mystery, Romance
BJ Rowley: Golden Wings Enterprises, LDStorymakers Publishing, Covenant; YA, Fantasy, Non-Fiction, General Fiction
James Dashner: Cedar Fort, Shadow Mountain; YA Fantasy
Stephanie Black: Covenant; Science Fiction, Suspense/Thriller
Julie Wright: Deseret Book, Bonneville; YA, Women's Fiction, Romance

(Authors are notoriously sensitive about their genres, so if I've miscategorized you, please forgive me.)

Anyway, the point is that we write different kinds of books, and we're from different publishers. We've already discussed the bias issue at length, and we've all committed to vote as objectively as possible.

As for LDStorymakers, two of the committee members weren't Storymakers when they were invited to join the committee--that's not a requirement. They have both since joined, however.

But second, and more important: we on the committee only whittle down the vast number of nominees to a group of five finalists. The voters who make the real decision will be authors, bookstore owners, publishers, critics, distributors, and other industry professionals. The LDStorymakers will be in the minority there.

(Besides, I've been a Storymaker for over a year now, and can honestly say that we never agree on anything! It's not we'd vote as a block anyway.) :)

Of course, our hope is that ALL LDS writers will join Storymakers, so I'd love to have a day when all the award winners were Storymakers. But membership certainly WILL NOT affect results.

Authors can't nominate their own books, but can they encourage others to do so?

Absolutely. Campaign all you'd like.


At 6/19/2007 2:51 PM, Blogger Josi said...

Couple other questions:

Can we only nominate a book one time?

What if the book was published a different year?

What does a sponsor do?

At 6/19/2007 6:27 PM, Blogger Tristi Pinkston said...

I'd like to disagree with Rob's comment that the Storymakers disagree all the time.

At 6/19/2007 6:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I'll answer for Rob since he's probably busy earning a living, or something silly like that.

1. You can nominate a book only once for one genre category. So if, for instance, a book is a historical romance, you couldn't nominate the same book under both historical and romance--you'd have to pick one category. And you couldn't nominate the same book three times for that category--you can only nominate it once.

But you could nominate the same book for novel of the year and/or best novel by a new author. So, for instance, Sheep's Clothing could win both best suspense novel and novel of the year.

2. Only books released between January 1 and December 31 of the award year are eligible. If the book was published in 2005 or 2006 or 1991, it's not eligible for the 2007 Whitneys.

3. Sponsors give us money. Sponsors are cool. Even a couple of dollars will help, and you get your name listed on the Whitney website. All donations are greatly appreciated.

P.S. Tristi, I disagree.


At 6/19/2007 7:04 PM, Blogger John Ferguson said...


If you need some technical help with your submission form I'd be happy to help. BJ knows how to get a hold of me.

a.k.a. John Ferguson

At 6/19/2007 8:53 PM, Blogger RobisonWells said...

Hooray! The nomination form is fixed. It's not pretty or final, but it's a good, workable band-aid.

John, I might take you up on your offer in the near future. I'll email you.

At 6/22/2007 8:32 PM, Blogger Sariah S. Wilson said...

Question then - while I understand that a book could be in a regular genre category and the best novel/best first novel categories, what if the book gets nominated in historical AND in romance? Is the rule that it can only be in one of those categories? Do we have to decide which category we'd most like to have the book considered in?


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