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More on the Aurealis Awards Discussion

Firstly I would like to apologise for any offense that I caused with my last post. It was not my intention to hurt anyone nor to belittle the work that goes into organising the AAs and the work that FQ does. I appreciate and thank those who have contacted me and have continued the discussion, both on this blog and off the blog. I personally believe that it is only through open communication and discussion that we can move forward. And if I am wrong about something, I am more than happy to rectify it.

That said ... a question ... which would you, dear reader, rather choose - a car or an Aussie small press debt?

I went into this with an idea of how much money I was willing to spend in order to play my small role in contribution to the arts. I think, if I were honest, I've already exceeded that amount. Recently I got a pretty decent sum of backpay due to a reclassification in my job role. And I put a portion of that into my shiny new Twelfth Planet Press bank account. The rest I put in my savings towards my house deposit. And when I gave up some of my future security for TPP, I promised myself that that was it. That was all the money I was ever going to loan my company. That was the amount of debt beyond which I am not prepared to go. It's less than pretty much every other Aussie specfic small press debt that I know of (there's a few I don't know, one is not in debt and I suspect maybe another is also not in debt). It would buy you a decent second hand car that's not too old.

When my TPP bank account runs dry, it's game over for TPP. If it's not viable, it's not viable. That's the deal I made with myself going in. That's business.

Shiny runs at about $150 per issue. We haven't recouped the money on any single issue yet and we have already committed to 3 more issues this year. (Never ever ask me about New Ceres - it makes me cry). So to put it into perspective, I reckon it would cost me at least half an issue of Shiny to enter all my year's publications into the AAs. When I say I can't afford to print or photocopy 5 copies or more of all those stories (50 pages or more per issue) and then post packages, it's because the decision I have made is - one more issue of Shiny over entering my stories into an awards process where last year some of the shortlisted YA stories, were not even YA (and Shiny did not make the cut). The decision I guess I am making is, how much further (pubications) I have down the road before I pull the plug. And one more issue of Shiny buys me maybe some more readers who buy back issues and so I may just limp along one more issue further down the road. $80 in printing and posting is not nothing to me.


Comments

roberthoge
Jun. 16th, 2008 09:30 pm (UTC)
> That said ... a question ... which would you, dear reader, rather choose - a car or an Aussie small press debt?

Depends on the colour of the car. ;)

Seriously, financial viability of small press is a serious issue - here and around the world. You shouldn't have to sacrifice your financial future because of the small press. But if awards are what tips a small press into the red, then it sounds like it may be a marginal enterprise to start with.

I also think publishers should have a plan for how they handle promotional, review and award copies. Either things like the World Fantasy Awards and the AAs deliver value for publishers, editors, writers and readers or they don't. And on that basis, publishers need to plan for how to handle them. I would have thought the oportunity to share one copy of a book or send judges galleys or print outs was a sensible compromise to all of this.
jonathanstrahan
Jun. 17th, 2008 12:27 am (UTC)
I agree it's a decision you have to make as an editor or publisher: do you want to bear the financial burden of being considered for an award. It's a question I'm pondering at the moment, and I know others are.

There is one thing which does make the AAs stand out from the crowd, though. The sheer number of judges and juries. It multiplies the cost significantly. The World Fantasy Awards, by comparison, require an absolute maximum of six copies (five for the judges and one for the administrator) of any work. That's a much more manageable expense.
girliejones
Jun. 17th, 2008 02:43 am (UTC)
I also think its the number of judges - there are more on the panels every year. I wonder also what that does to the outcome. Three judges works as a tie breaker. Surely by 5 its a committee and we all know what those kind of decisions are like.

I'm working round in my head that it would be better to pick stories and send those off to some panels rather than whole books or issues of mags. But that is going to become very fiddly and will be a very time consuming job. Especially with 5 panels that I will be sending different combinations of works to. It's not something that will make it to near the top of my to do list until at least August now.
exp_err
Jun. 17th, 2008 03:34 am (UTC)
I suggest if you're not going to submit the stories, suggest to your authors that they do so. For an individual author with one story, the costs are lower, and for some, the potential rewards are greater.
girliejones
Jun. 17th, 2008 03:38 am (UTC)
I would never not tell my authors what I was doing.
exp_err
Jun. 17th, 2008 03:40 am (UTC)
Of course not. But add some words of encouragement for them to submit their stories, as they may not realise that they can, or may not feel that it is their place to do so.
girliejones
Jun. 17th, 2008 02:35 am (UTC)
Seriously, financial viability of small press is a serious issue - here and around the world. You shouldn't have to sacrifice your financial future because of the small press. But if awards are what tips a small press into the red, then it sounds like it may be a marginal enterprise to start with.

I used to think that too, when I first started ASif. I didn't want electronic review copies and figured what's a couple of free books in return for free publicity? When you sit down and work out what that actually translates to (sending review copies to all the outlets, and then all the awards places) .. and that actually more people place higher value on reviews than awards shortlists ... it's not just a matter of an awards process breaking the bank, it's one extra thing that's pulling down the whole stack of cards.

Aurealis Awards nominations don't exist on their own. They are one extra factor that actually decide whether a book breaks even or not. (I've got the spreadsheet to prove that).

I also think publishers should have a plan for how they handle promotional, review and award copies. Either things like the World Fantasy Awards and the AAs deliver value for publishers, editors, writers and readers or they don't.

But we do have a plan - and they don't deliver value for small press publishers. So ... that's I guess, really what I am saying. To then be asked to spend money for something that has no real reward for me, it's why my reaction is what it is.

would have thought the oportunity to share one copy of a book or send judges galleys or print outs was a sensible compromise to all of this.

Absolutely it is. And I will again point out that the website does not show this as a default, it says that you need to discuss this with the convenor and he will decide at his discretion. Why should I be made to feel like I have to go into the principal's office and plead my cause? I did it last year and was told off. The wording this year on the site is not different to last year except for the "No Electronic submissions will be accepted" - that's been added.

Some extra things - it's June 17. I'm going away. Other presses are maybe not so on top of their email and their submitting works to places. Negotations with the convenor last year took over a month because often he took a week to reply to my emails. Time is ticking. Why make the process more involved than it has to be?

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