Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Three Reasons To Get Excited For Cybil Season

You have one week left to nominate a favorite book for a Cybil. Here are three reasons why you should.

Reason 3: It's Free

No, I'm not making some kind of joke. Some book awards require a nomination fee. The National Book Award for instance, requires a $125 entry fee as well as a contribution of $1,000 from the publisher toward a promotion campaign if the book becomes a finalist. Some state awards (I'm not talking about the state readers' choice awards for children's books) also require a nomination fee.

I don't mean to suggest that there's anything wrong in requiring a nomination fee. There are expenses involved with running an award program, and, since many thousands of books are published every year, the fee probably helps keep the number of books in contention at a manageable level. Or nearly so. But I do think that the fee has an impact on awards. Of course a publisher that has to come up with $125 for every book it nominates for the National Book Award isn't going to nominate every book it published. Anyone can nominate a title for the Connecticut Book Award, but I don't think I have any fans who are so enthusiastic that they'd want to come up with $50 or $75 to do so. (There was a sliding fee determined by the number of copies published, two years ago, anyway.). So I'm guessing that people who want to use their money wisely, look at their books and decide what has the best shot of winning. That decision may be made on the basis of the book's quality or it may be made on the basis of the book's quality and its similarity to books that won the award in the past.

That's what I'd do, anyway.

So for a lot of book awards, the winner is not necessarily the best book of the year, but the best book that was nominated.

Reason 2: It's Your Chance To Influence An Award

You know all that talk about mavericks and outsiders we've been hearing lately? Well, that's sort of what the Cybils are because readers--any readers--have a hand in the decision making. Remember Reason 3, which you should have just read. Any book award is given to the best book of those nominated. You have a chance to nominate a brilliant book that the professionals haven't noticed.

Reason 1: It Gets Book Titles Out In Front Of Readers

Books disappear very rapidly from the public consciousness. Even award winning books. Within a month or two of the Newbery and Caldecott announcements, I see people on listservs starting to speculate about the next year's winners. This year's winner is so yesterday. It's time to go on to the next big thing.

Bloggers are the judges who make decisions about your nominations. And what do bloggers do? They blog. Unlike other book awards where decisions are made behind closed doors (not that there's anything wrong with that), the Cybils panelists and judges are allowed to talk about what they're reading. That means that nominated titles from back as far as January can get some attention again. The attention is good for the books, and it's good for you readers.

While only one book can win, there are thousands of good books out there. During Cybil Season, you'll get a chance to read about them. And one of the books you--and thousands of others--read about could be a book you nominated.

1 comment:

Jen Robinson said...

Excellent points all, Gail. Thanks for taking time to spell all of this out.