A word on the Aurealis Awards

It’s just a week to the presentation of this year’s Aurealis awards for Australian spec fic, taking place in Queensland.

Every time any award winners are announced, there’s always talk of how unpredictable these things are, how little they mean etc, etc. Inevitable, I suppose, because it’s not ever a first past the post thing. Book awards are not a race with a clear winner. Judges are basing their decisions on their own personal preferences and the judges of the books for 2006 would doubtless have selected different winners for the books entered 2005 which were judged by another group of people.

The one thing that makes the Aurealis Awards a tad different from many such awards is that the judges of a section (in my case fantasy novels) read pretty much every book eligible in that category (books published that year by Australians and Australian permanent residents anywhere in the world are eligible). In many other awards the books submitted are weeded long before the judges see then, simply because there are too many.

William Boyd, the latest winner of the Whitbread Award, now called the Costa Award, remarked that it was “the equivalent of a win on the horses or the lottery”, which is true – lovely to have, but don’t let winning put your nose too far up in the air, or feel that a loss is a kick in the pants.

So why then bother with awards at all?

Well, Boyd also said, “I think they’re a good thing because they encourage readers and that’s what all writers want.” I agree with that, but I also think it encourages writers. Not because we write to win or to be short listed, or because we can live on the prize money (the Aurealis has none) but because it means that there are people out there who care enough about what we are doing to have organised this prize in the first place, and others who do the work involved year after year, without remuneration, whether it be organization or judging. I find that encouraging; morale-boosting, if you like.

I don’t know who will win this year. There are books by four other very talented writers short listed (in my category, Juliet Marillier, Grace Dugan, Sean McMullen and Michael Pryor) but I do want to say thank you anyway. Thank you to all the people who have had a hand in this award. To all those who put in the work. I appreciate it and I’d appreciate it even if I wasn’t shortlisted.

And to all those who are going to the prize giving next Saturday, I wish I could be there, just to see you all.


A word on the Aurealis Awards — 8 Comments

  1. Well said!

    But there is prize money this year, and they’re hoping to increase it subsequently.

    End of the day, it’s a crap shoot. But you know I’m rooting for you to win so hard my teeth are hurting!

  2. Every time any award winners are announced, there’s always talk of how unpredictable these things are, how little they mean etc, etc.

    Isn’t that the case of all awards and competitions?

    In this case, and in my personal opinion, I didn’t see a novel or story on the list that didn’t deserve to be there. It made me think that we have a bunch of very talented writers in Australia.

    Good luck.

  3. Glenda, hang in there. You’ve got to win this gong one year and it’s only a matter of time. I am blown away by the way your writing constantly gains depth with every book you write.

    It’s both encouraging as discouraging for me, as a tyro writer, to watch my faves getting better with every book. Encouraging because it shows me that the more one writes, the better one gets and discouraging because it’s obvious I still have a long way to go:-)

    Best of luck in the awards!

  4. I think it’s the seal of approval that is the morale-booster for writers. Seems to me that most writers crave validation to some extent, so even to be nominated for an award (let alone shortlisted, or win) is – as glenda said – encouraging because there are people out there who care about the work we all do, ad who want to give us some sort of recognition for doing it well. It’s the pat on the back that encourages one to keep working.

    Though of course being on an award list probably does give a welcome little boost to sales figures – and any cash handout that comes with the accolade is likely to be welcome. :o)

  5. I wonder if winning does boost sales? It would be interesting to find out. Obviously it does with big awards like the Man-Booker or Pulitzer, but somehow I wonder if a sticker on a book in Dymock’s saying “Aurealis Winner 2006” means anything at all to the average buyer.

  6. The sticker shows it won a prize. Even if the punter (customer) doesn’t know what the prize is, just the winning – or shortlisting for – is an added recommendation that someone thinks the book is worthwhile. :o)

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