Author Topic: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires  (Read 65189 times)

C.R. Barker

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #45 on: August 16, 2006, 07:11:54 pm »
Okay, Marie, here's the thing:

I've had nothing but good support from the society since my career took off. I think Prism is cracking and I ALWAYS try to get the BFS more members when I'm on events......

.....so I'm at this one event in Cambridge, along with Susanna Clarke, Mark C and Stan Nicholls, among others. Up comes this bloke - nice guy - buys one of my books - I sign it and the conversation goes:

Me: Do you like fantasy?
Man: Yeah, love it.
Me: Have you read Orcs by Stan Nicholls?
Man: Oh yeah: I've also read (he then reels off just about every fantasy and children's fantasy author I know of, all in one big breath :-)).
Me: Have you heard of the British Fantasy Society
(guy grimaces as I say the name)
Man: Yeah, I was a member....but they're all about horror these days.

.....and that, honestly, is the reply I've got just about EVERY time I've mentioned the society to readers at my signings. And it can't just be
MY readers who think it????

I'm trying to help, here.....REALLY.? :D



Perhaps by selecting someone who has a strong fantasy background as next President would help remedy this problem? It would certainly alter people's perceptions of the organisation if it's public representative was a relatively high profile fantasy author.

Who might fit the bill? (Fantasy is not my strong point I'm afraid.)






Paul Kane

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #46 on: August 16, 2006, 07:17:42 pm »
One problem with that voting system jumps out at me straight away - if these are experts in their fields, no doubt they're also going to be extremely busy. How would they find the time to read all the books from a long list that members have submitted? Especially in the space of only a couple of months before the awards are handed out.

We have enough trouble reading all the competition entries and they're only short stories.


Paul.

Offline Lermontov

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #47 on: August 16, 2006, 07:27:45 pm »
Blimey! This is the most life I've seen on the site in one YEAR let alone in one day since I've been a member from early on in 2005.

WHO THREW THAT CAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!??

It is damned refreshing though to see so much lively activity on the site. Thank goodness for it.

Don't get rid of the Novella category, I've just finished one and have another in the works!

All these hints and inferences of nepotism and incestuous connections, well, that's publishing unfortunately. I've not been a member very long and don't know the ins and outs one way or the other and really don't need to know. Life's too short and I find it hard enough to squeeze out a page of my own prose that half the time doesn't make me want to perform violence upon myself when I reread it. Eventually, talent will out (not infering that's applicable to me BTW; my hubris only extends to bouts of Medal of Honor Multiplayer online) and the dross will be - albeit eventually - returned to pulp. As a budding writer you have to make what you do so damned good that it simply cannot and will not be ignored, no matter how clique-like anything may or may not be. the old cliche from writers who are 'there' is true: never give up.

I know that through the BFS I have a chance of sorts to pitch my novella and novel for free (as long as they don't keep cancelling! but there you go, gift horse and all that) to people and maybe even get it published one day. There is no other society in the country I know of focused on Fantasy/Horror in general that allows you to have the chance to do that. That the society puts you into contact with editors, publishers and agents (as long as they don't keep cancelling!) can only be a good thing for any aspiring writer, because it's bloody cold and lonely out here!

C.R. Barker

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #48 on: August 16, 2006, 07:29:35 pm »
Hear, hear. And Ramsey, I'd hate to see you resign as President, so my first inclination, personally, would be to vote you back in. If you really are adamant about standing down, however, and speaking purely as an individual member I'd nominate Stephen Jones as your successor.

Well, I for one would have very strong objections to Stephen Jones as BFS president. The BFS needs invigorating, not timewarping. It probably could also do with a President who comes from a fantasy background as opposed to horror to correct the various imbalances recently highlighted.

To drive the BFS forward you need someone who is innovative, accountable and fan (customer)-focused. No offence to anyone involved, but the Prism and Dark Horizon journals need sprucing-up, as do various aspects of the Society, ranging from the website to the day to day administration through to the awards process. If this were a commercial business you would call in a consultant to do these things, hence the need for a dynamic new leader who can lead and galvanise everybody.

Take a look at the high street glossies like FHM and EMPIRE. That's how the BFS journals should present themselves - slicker, more contemporary style, bolder and more dynamic features, etc. And improvements like that aren't really a question of money, rather it is down to using a half decent desktop publishing package and recruiting volunteers to contribute the various features. Artists and cartoonists are crying out for the opportunity to get into print, as are aspiring writers and editors.

Just take a look at BOOK & MAGAZINE COLLECTOR. For years it was a hoary old specialist appeal journal which never varied its style or editorial slant for decades. It was dying a slow and painful death. Then along came a new editor who completely restyled the format and it is now a very attractive journal with a steadily improving circulation. It looks zappier and sexier than ever. What's more, through the judicious employment of contributors who were fast becoming perceived as dinosaurs into the new style, much experience was retained.

CB
http://hauntedriver.co.uk




 



 


C.R. Barker

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #49 on: August 16, 2006, 07:33:45 pm »
One problem with that voting system jumps out at me straight away - if these are experts in their fields, no doubt they're also going to be extremely busy. How would they find the time to read all the books from a long list that members have submitted? Especially in the space of only a couple of months before the awards are handed out.

We have enough trouble reading all the competition entries and they're only short stories.


Paul.

Well, assuming that you appointed judges until such time as they were resigned (or were voted off), I should imagine that many writers would be flattered to be a resident BFS awards judge. It would akin to a credential.





Paul Kane

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #50 on: August 16, 2006, 07:37:52 pm »
They might well be flattered, but they would definitely quit when they saw how much they had to read. I can tell you right now, most experts in their field don't have much time to spare for this - they're too busy writing or publishing etc - and those that do probably wouldn't be able to call themselves experts anyway  :)

Paul.

Offline Marie O'Regan

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #51 on: August 16, 2006, 07:49:28 pm »
To answer your points, Chris:

1. Ramsey is our President, and as Dave mentioned previously, fantasy fans class his Cthulhu work as Heroic Fantasy and have even based an RPG on those stories. Steve Jones would also, in my own opinion, do a good job as President as he is very 'fan-focused'. Everyone has their own opinion on this, I am sure, but I for one would like to see Ramsey continue.
2. Jen is in the process of overhauling Prism, and the next Dark Horizons is my last one as editor - family matters preclude me continuing with it, much as I would love to. I changed the magazine whilst editing it, and I'm sure my successor will too. Magazines by their nature evolve with editorial changes. Both look and content have cost as a factor, though, so I doubt whether we could compete with Empire. I'm sure the new Editor will do his best to provide a magazine everyone will enjoy, though. As to a half decent desktop publishinig package, I used Quark, which I believe is industry standard. Some of the top fantasy artists around have helped me on various publications, and I'm very grateful for their help. We've had contributions from artists such as Les Edwards, Lara Bandilla, James Ryman, Paul Campion...the list goes on. And from authors such as Mark Chadbourn, Tony Richards, Chaz Brenchley, Neil Williamson...loads more. Again, these were voluntary contributions I was very grateful for.
3. Your point on judges is an interesting one, and we do have successful authors acting as judges on the Annual Short Story Competition. I remain convinced, however, that the most representative vote is one from the members themselves - telling us what they liked. To do otherwise would be to invite a situation where judges get 'spammed' by potentially huge amounts of short stories, novels, collections, anthologies...and wouldn't be able to find time to do all of them justice. As it stands, readers are able to vote on what they've read, and what the majority of them like wins. I also think that the fact that it is the readers who have voted means something to the winners.

Lermontov - I agree completely. I've been a member for four or five years now, and have met so many interesting people - some published, some not, and have made some very good friends in the process, both at Open Nights and at FantasyCon.

C.R. Barker

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #52 on: August 16, 2006, 07:52:04 pm »
They might well be flattered, but they would definitely quit when they saw how much they had to read. I can tell you right now, most experts in their field don't have much time to spare for this - they're too busy writing or publishing etc - and those that do probably wouldn't be able to call themselves experts anyway? :)

Paul.

OK, why not then limit the number of works / authors that can be nominated? For example, ten short stories, five novels etc etc. Have BFS members vote for who they want, then have those who receive the most votes make it to the judges list.

There are ways around all of these problems, I feel sure. It just requires open-mindedness and a serious amount of collective brainstorming!

CB
(off to watch the footie)





Offline Marie O'Regan

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #53 on: August 16, 2006, 07:55:25 pm »
That's effectively the shortlist we already have each year, Chris. The top five, I think, in each category make it from nomination to recommendation. That's still an awful lot of material to read in a very short time.

David Lee Stone

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #54 on: August 16, 2006, 08:46:41 pm »
Hmm.......dare I suggest, albeit in a friendly way, that it is time for The British Heroic Fantasy Society?????? :-)

That way (if Ramsey is DETERMINED to stand down - and he shouldn't) the horror folks can elect Stephen Jones and we'll cater for the fans of Tolkien, early Pratchett, Gemmell, the members of The Light Fantastic, myself and every other British supplier of sword-weilding warriors in the business!

But WE get the banner: it belongs to us anyway!? ;)

C.R. Barker

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #55 on: August 16, 2006, 10:31:17 pm »
I won't be withdrawing my stuff from eligibility for the BFS awards unless a majority of members at the AGM vote that I should. However, let me announce now that I'll be standing down as President at the forthcoming AGM. If I'm voted back in, fine, but any other nominations?

Well, that's like John Terry saying he'll be resigning as England captain, but that he'll stand against any rival should anyone be so brave as to stand against him. Effectively what you're doing is asking for a show of support. If you are serious about resigning you should just do so, like Alan Shearer did, when he announced at thirty that he wouldn't play for England again and that he was leaving of his own volition to clear the decks for new arrivals. Alternatively, you could have made this announcement much sooner, which would have enabled the BFS to cast about for other prospective candidates, and even possibly arranged a vote in advance.

It seems pretty clear that you don't actually want to resign and also that you would like a show of support. I think you have handled this issue in an old-fashioned political way e.g. intending to give the impression that you are being fair and openminded, but actually having engineered things is such a manner that you will almost certainly remain in office. Full marks for the politicking however; you must be pretty sound at chess.  ;)

CB


Offline Marie O'Regan

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #56 on: August 16, 2006, 11:23:56 pm »
Dave, I'm actually amazed that you'd suggest such a thing. The British Fantasy Society has catered to all aspects of the genre since the early seventies, and its members have all supported each other during that time. Might I suggest that if you wish to set up a separate society you are of course entitled to do so - but I think you should come up with your own, original, banner rather than try and take over that of something that's existed for thirty odd years. And I think you mean the Write Fantastic? Who are all, by the way, staunch BFS supporters of Fantasy in its broadest definition.

Chris, I can't see any reason Ramsey should have to tout for support. He's been a great President and I hope he will continue to be so.

C.R. Barker

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #57 on: August 17, 2006, 12:28:22 am »
Dave, I'm actually amazed that you'd suggest such a thing. The British Fantasy Society has catered to all aspects of the genre since the early seventies, and its members have all supported each other during that time. Might I suggest that if you wish to set up a separate society you are of course entitled to do so - but I think you should come up with your own, original, banner rather than try and take over that of something that's existed for thirty odd years. And I think you mean the Write Fantastic? Who are all, by the way, staunch BFS supporters of Fantasy in its broadest definition.

Chris, I can't see any reason Ramsey should have to tout for support. He's been a great President and I hope he will continue to be so.

Marie:

With respect, you appear to have misunderstood me. If RC was serious about stepping aside then there are far more effective ways to do it. He has opted for the empty gesture method, which is to say, he will run through the charade of resigning knowing full well that he will be swiftly re-elected. That will then allow him and others to say that he did at least throw it open to other candidates, even if it is only disingenuously true.

As for having been a great President, how exactly do you qualify that? There have been grumblings about the BFS being stuck in the eighties; concern over the bias shown towards horror; suggestions that conventions appear to be run for the career advancement of the few; queries over the fairness of the award processes; anxiety that the BFS isn't recruiting enough new members (excepting the last year's intake); etc etc.

Seriously, how do you prove in a scientific way that someone has been a 'great' President? And even if someone's tenure can be shown to have reaped dividends for the society, isn't there a good case for arguing that the President's term of office should be limited to X number of years regardless, simply to ensure that the society is kept dynamic?

The saying 'a change is as good as a rest' has some validity. People like change after a while, they grow resentful if things just keep staying the same. After twelve years experience of working with local government officials and elected councillors, I am extremely sceptical about people's reasons for seeking office, and the worst I came across were those who were in the 'old boy network'. Crusty old buffers who no longer much cared the issues, they would cling stubbornly to office just to keep the enthusiastic aspirers out. They did it to prove that they were still top dog and because they took pleasure from the trappings of their minimalist successes. Now, I am in no way suggesting that this is a similar case, but as regards to the general principle, I don't think such an important aspect of the BFS as the Presidency should be manipulated in such a way. If RC wants to resign he should resign, and not allow himself to be immediately put forward as the new president. If he doesn't want to resign, then fine, but the BFS should at least clarify how long his tenure should last and give others (most definitely not me I hasten to add) the opportunity to challenge him in an election if they want to.

A final observation: staging a vote at the fantasy con on this issue favours the existing President. For this to be done fairly, BFS members should be allowed to vote in secret and by post or online rather than be asked to attend a meeting and have to face the people concerned.











C.R. Barker

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #58 on: August 17, 2006, 12:38:31 am »
That's effectively the shortlist we already have each year, Chris. The top five, I think, in each category make it from nomination to recommendation. That's still an awful lot of material to read in a very short time.

Easily solved: rejig the timescales. Rejig them so that the judges are allowed say three months to familiarise themselves with the five entries in each group.

I agree that asking unpaid judges to wade through twenty odd entries per category would be unfeasible, but the IHG and WFC judges appear to be able to get through the short list each year.

By taking the best bits from both options - that is to say, by cherry-picking from both the free vote and peer-assessment methods - I believe that the system would become more transparent and accountable whilst the decision-making would be tweaked to near perfection. However, that's just my view, and I would rather agree to disagree about what we each think rather than one of us try to impose his or her view on the other.




Offline Jen

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Re: A General Observation On Awards Questionnaires
« Reply #59 on: August 17, 2006, 07:31:35 am »
Quote
Hmm.......dare I suggest, albeit in a friendly way, that it is time for The British Heroic Fantasy Society?Huh?? :-)

Hee.. then, we really would get accused of being exclusionists!  As Paul said, way up on another page, there's more to life than just the heroic stuff...  As we stand, one of the good points about the BFS is that we hold a general umbrella over all the genre subdivisions, so, in theory, all we need to do is get people to actually *see* that we're not soley one or the other; but multiple offenders  :D  I like being able to get everything under the one roof...  ;)  (especially since it makes it easier to find out about what's new that's horror when I want a change after doing a mass fantasy jag...bouncing around the genres makes life much more interesting!)

What was the Cambridge event BTW?