For the life of me, I couldn't remember whether I'd written about this previously or not. So I took time to check and saw that I hadn't. So here we are.
Recently , I've been thinking about props. No, not movie props. Props as in 'proper recognition', respect, acknowledgement, accolades, etc. In particular, about winning awards, or even being nominated for one. Of course, it'd be cool to win one - I won't lie. But I won't beg either.
As yet, the only award/acknowledgement I've had is an Honourable Mention from the AHWA (Australian Horror Writers' Association) when I entered a short story competition some years ago. Note that short story in question is still unpublished so far, but a character or two from it may surface in the near future.
I think of the awards in the genre, like a BFS (British Fantasy Society) award or a Bram Stoker (Horror Writers' Association award). It'd be nice to be nominated for one, let alone win one. Don't misunderstand me - this isn't a tantrum or a cry for help. It would be nice because, among other things, such an accolade would raise your profile, boost your audience, and all that good stuff that goes with it. In much the same way that some restaurants are Michelin starred, some household appliances may be recommended by Which? and how recording artists may win a Grammy, how those in film may win an Oscar/Academy Award, etc. etc. etc. Of course, such awards and accolades are also partly subjective, since they'll draw on the personal taste of the judges as well as the audience(s). From the longlist to the shortlist to the final list. Good on those who rightfully get on any kind of list. But then, some may beat their audience over the head with the desire to be a winner; as a jury panel may follow politics and bias at the expense of fairness. The Oscars have been a good example of this; whether it's racism, sexism, etc. (and, as a black man writing in a genre that's been famously white for many years, I'm aware of bias). By all means, call out such bias where it's evident, but don't lose sight of what else is important.
The bottom line is this - and I will continue to say this: as an author, the writing is the bottom line. It's the absolute be-all and end-all, it's the bread and butter, it's the alpha-omega. The writing is what makes it all possible. And if you're not putting those words down on a regular basis, good luck with getting anything else to happen.
I count myself 'lucky' that I don't have writer's block. As is, I'm still writing as fast as I can to keep the muse in my sights, let alone catch up to her. I'm aware that my work might not move everyone, and that's okay. Mama's not quick to read my work, although she'll happily keep the books as some kind of trophy. I've been unfriended in real life and social media over the content, perceived or otherwise, of my work. Friends will applaud the hustle, but won't necessarily read the work. But that's okay. What matters is my audience and I do my level best to deliver my best work for them. And me.
There are only a handful of reviews of my work on the likes of Amazon, Goodreads, etc. - even if those reviews are mostly favourable. For a platform like Amazon, the business of leaving reviews/feedback has been made easier. That said, I'm guilty of missing it - one savvy head in the genre had to point out that at the end of reading a Kindle book, there's an option to leave a star rating, just in case you don't want to leave a full-blown review. No need for paragraphs of praise, just a couple of button clicks. Just click the 'Review this book on Amazon' star rating and once you've done that, you should then see the 'Add a review (Optional)' section come up. Add your review and click the 'Submit' button. Or - and even easier, once you've left the star rating, just drag the title bar down the page to return to your Kindle book. Job done. Reviews help the author, the publisher and the audience(s). Everybody wins.
What such accolades do is not only reward you in part for your hard work, but reward you for your product. Yes, accolades and awards can be gratifying, but shouldn't be the be-all and end-all. That's not a healthy approach to take. It can be something of a Catch-22 where an audience won't buy into your brand without reviews, and that same audience won't review anything (favourably or otherwise) without buying into your brand. Patience and persistence should see that both of those come in.
My audience has told me that my work has been hard to put down, given them the creeps, made their skin crawl and - one favourite to date - 'some of you motherfuckers need Jesus' on another story that is, as yet, unpublished. I'll gladly and humbly take those as wins in the meantime. What else can I do; apart from write?