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:
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.