Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Moderating Expectations

This time next week I'll be in Manhattan, unrolling my tux from my carry-on bag, feeling a little queasy, and getting ready to attend the Quill Book Awards. The Quill people have posted a commercial here and some clips of last year's awards here, and I can safely say that--although the Eisner Awards were pretty cool--I've never been to anything quite like that.

Now that voting is closed I can tell you what I really think...which is that the Quills strike me as an odd duck. Reed Publishing and Al Roker Entertainment have done a swell job of creating a glitzy event that makes the book world look glamorous. At the same time, as I wrote a while ago, I saw almost no awareness among the award's bookstore partners, no way for people to vote but online and, except for one page in "Parade" magazine, no advertising. You have to wonder about the usefulness and validity of awards that, as far as I can tell, are decided by a tiny fraction of the reading public that had to go out of their way to participate. In addition, the Quills seem to have a way to go before they earn the kind of reputation that yields literary respect or, more practically, increased book sales. Maybe that'll come with time.

Despite my possibly uninformed and misguided observations, I am grateful and excited. I also sincerely do not expect to win. Based simply on literary merit, I think Alison Bechdel's Fun Home should win. On the other hand, if the millions of readers who made Naruto one of the best-selling manga series in the U.S. found their way to the ballots (and I'm betting they're more Internet-saavy than most), I think it could win based on sheer numbers.

So in the unlikely event Mom's Cancer wins, do I intend to take a principled stand and decline the award because I believe in my heart that other books are more deserving or popular than mine?

Don't be ridiculous.


Mike said...

Plaques are for haques.

When I was in the newsroom, I used to win awards regularly -- but never for my best work and sometimes for stuff that was mediocre but on a subject that happened to be hot that year. No, I never turned them down, either. But they don't really measure much. A true zen master knows that things like awards and sales figures do not measure the value of a piece of work.

Presumably you don't have to be warned not to turn down royalty checks.

Brian Fies said...

Mike, thanks for the perspective. I struggle mightily to achieve your level of zen enlightenment and confess that "rich and famous" still sounds better. You have shamed me.

What's a royalty check?

Anonymous said...

"What's a royalty check?"

Still wondering that myself.

Good luck, Brian!