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  •  some of the awards matter more than others (4+ / 0-)
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    Susan from 29, Youffraita, NonnyO, mungley

    which is hardly news, heh. But here's my take, fwiw:

    The Edgar is the biggest deal--it's the mystery genre's Hugo Award. The incoming president of Mystery Writers of America selects committee heads who then put together 5-writer committees to decide the nominees and the winner. I've been on a few of those committees. Publishers send every committee member every qualifying book--a couple of hundred, in the big categories. Committee members spend the year reading & winnowing and then decide as a group on nominees and winners. The winner tends to be everyone's 2nd or 3rd choice because consensus on #1 picks is rare. So if you're looking for recommendations, it's worth a glace at some non-winner nominees. (I feel funny saying this because I've been nominated twice, which I would not mention but a few people here already know that. So just want to say, I don't mean me, honest. I just mean, in general.)

    The second biggest deal is the Anthony Award, equivalent to the Nebula Award. Everyone who signs up for the genre's biggest fan/writer convention of the year, Bouchercon, gets a ballot. Bouchercon is a very big con so a lot of ballots come in. As with the Edgars, the winners are announced at a banquet, in this case, after a couple of days of panels and events.

    It used to be that there were only two other awards that mattered much to American readers and, to a lesser extent, publishers. One is the Macavity, also awarded by reader ballots available from a Mystery Readers group. It skews cozy because that's the dedicated voter base there. The other is the Shamus Award, given by Private Eye Writers of America. It's awarded by committees, same process as the Edgars. Winners tend to be harder boiled because PI fiction grew out of that tradition. Dedicated readers care about these awards, of course, but most haven't heard of them, and publishers don't really publicize it when their writers win. (More full disclosure, gulp. I've been nominated for a few Anthonys and Macavitys, and I won a Shamus for a short story.)

    More recently, an international group of crime writers formed an organization that, by committee, awards the Hammett. This group is the best if you're a writer because it organizes trips to exotic places. (E.g. I got to go to Cuba with Ross Thomas, Lawrence Block, Don Westlake, Robert Campbell, Stewart Kaminsky, Paco Taibo and other very interesting folks.) The prize mostly flies under the radar in this country. Winning books have a predictably international bent and generally some social commentary.

    At around the time that Sisters in Crime was formed (because back then, so few mystery books by women were getting reviewed), there was considerable annoyance that the big prizes kept going to men. It was attributed to systemic disregard for cozier books. A new convention, Malice Domestic, was created, with its own award, the Agatha. People who sign up for Malice Domestic, a smaller conference than Bouchercon but big enough to fill multi-track panels for a few days, are sent ballots first to nominate and then to vote for winners. This award matters to readers who enjoy this type of book but doesn't matter as much to readers with more generalized taste.

    The thrillers group is newer and (sorry for the "inside baseball") is a source of some annoyance to writers who feel that the Edgars still heavily favor this type of book over cozies, and that Anthonys do too because thrillers tend to get heavily promoted & because more people read them, more people vote for them. There is grousing that too many new awards discount the value of existing awards. But that was what non-cozy lovers said about the Agathas, too.

    The other awards really don't get much attention outside their countries/groups.

    Sorry to have been so verbose and duplicative! And thanks, Susan from 29 for this series and this post!

    "America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between." Oscar Wilde

    by scilicet on Tue Jan 03, 2012 at 09:29:24 AM PST

    •  Thank you so much for your input. If I had known (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mainely49, NonnyO, mungley

      we had a nominee in the house I probably would have dragooned you into service!  It is kind of hard as a casual reader to keep track of all of the awards and your comment has helped organize them, at least in my mind.

      Thank you for the insight and behind the scenes look at the awards.  If you don't mind, I'd like to blockquote this comment and put it at the end of the diary.  

      And I agree with you about checking the nominees.  There is a bit of crossover, and it helps when looking for a new read.  Although my list of tbr books has already grown huge from readers' & book lovers' recommendations.

      "I cannot live without books" -- Thomas Jefferson, 1815

      by Susan Grigsby on Tue Jan 03, 2012 at 01:22:17 PM PST

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      •  so glad you didn't mind the blither (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Susan from 29, mainely49, mungley

        You did such a great job of researching it all, really took the bewilderment out of it. I'm glad if I helped in a lazy after-the-fact way, and of course quote me if you think it would be useful to anyone. I'm just relieved you didn't find this officious, heh. Thanks again for the post.

        "America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between." Oscar Wilde

        by scilicet on Tue Jan 03, 2012 at 01:49:47 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

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