What with all the new forum categories, I hardly know where to post. This seems like as good a place as any.

After coming back from New York, I started to wonder about awards for mystery writers. There are so many of them that I can't even make a list because I'll leave some off. So my question is, are there too many?

Once upon a time, there were the Edgars. And that was all. I believe that's still the most prestigious award, the one most likely to translate into more sales or better contracts for a writer, particularly in the novel categories. Now, though, it could be that the prestige is a little less, thanks to all the other awards out there.

On the other hand, the more awards there are, the more publicity the books get, even if the other awards aren't hyped quite as much as the Edgars. And we all know that publicity is good for everybody in the field.

So what do you think. Are there too many awards, are there just enough, or do we need more?

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You're correct Bill, there are a lot of awards but personally I think that anything which brings books to potential readers' attention is a good thing. As long as they are given by well respected organisations. I don't mean things like "The Award For The Best Book Featuring a Fluffy Ginger Cat" sponsored by Auntie Betty's Fluffy Ginger Cat Website, but awards sponsored by organisations/magazines/conventions are great, although they do get a bit confusing.

I like the array of awards - specific awards for specific types of book that might not otherwise get nominated, awards nominated and voted on by fans (I like those - it gives me a chance to do something - however little - for my favourite authors and books), or picked by committee.

When I think about it there ARE bloody millions. Off the top of my head:

The Dagger awards sponsored by the CWA in the UK - awards for best European crime fiction, crime in translation, best adventure/thriller, debut, unpublished, historical, one voted on by librarians and readers' groups, lifetime achievement.
Theakstons Old Peculier - best novel - voted on by the public and presented at Harrogate crime festival.
Edgars (MWA sponsored) - various categories - voted on by committee of MWA members
Agatha - for best traditional in various categories - voted on by attendees of Malice Dometic
Shamus (PWA sponsored) - for best PI in various categories - voted on by committee of PWA members
Anthony Awards - various categories - the Bouchercon awards - nominated and voted by attendees of current and previous Bouchercon
Lefty Award - for best humourous crime novel - nominated and voted on by attendees of Left Coast Crime
Bruce Alexander - historical - nominated and voted on by attendees of LCC
Arthur Ellis Awards - sponsored by Crime Writers of Canada - voted by committee
Dilys Award - voted on by IMBA members for favourite book booksellers have enjoyed selling
Macavity Awards - various categories - Mystery Readers Journal sponsored - voted for by subscribers (I think)
Barry - Deadly Pleasures awards - various categories - voted on by readers of Deadly Pleasures
Gumshoe - various categories - sponsored by Mystery Ink - not sure how those are picked
ITW Thriller awards - various categories for 'thrillers' - voted on by committee

I've probably missed loads out but those are the ones off the top of my head, so apologies if I have any wrong.
You thought of a couple that would have escaped me. I think you're probably right about the awards being a good thing, but there sure are a lot of 'em. I'd like to win the one for "Best Book Featuring a Fluffy Ginger Cat."
The committee (that's Auntie Betty and Tiddles) have been voting all afternoon. And the award is yours. The award is a fur ball on a tiny wee plinth. Congratulations!
Just what I wanted!
I think it's a double edged sword. On the one hand, more awards means more people are paying attention to the genre and that's good. On the other hand, the abundance of awards renders many of them meaningless and can dilute the importance of those that actually matter.

I doubt that the Edgar or Dagger awards would be heavily impacted by having too many, though. They're so well known, it's hard to see them get confused with the Hornblower Award for Best Use of A Double Entendre Name In Epic, Turn of The Century, Naval Noir Fiction. So, I think it probably all washes out and the benefits outweigh the negatives.
Are the lesser-known awards pretty much ignored by readers, do you think? Or do they pay attention to "Lesser-Known Award Winner" when it's on the cover?
I think some readers do pay attention. Not to the "Lesser-Known" part, but to the "Award Winner" part. Slap a sticker on the cover and it's going to catch someone's eye. "It must be good. It won an award."
Since the reviewing space is shrinking, this is one of the few ways books get attention. As the numbers of awards grow, maybe the prestige diminishes but at least the people who give out the awards have to read the books. And that may be the most sizeable group reading them.
Sad but true, Patti. And even sadder that review space is disappearing so rapidly.
I wonder if the average reader has the same reaction. I do know writers to whom being a nominee or winner has made a huge difference.
What I have to offer may be more along the lines of questions than answers.

At what point do the awards become meaningless because they're just another 'award' and nobody understands it anyway? We know what the Edgars are. Certainly most people in the community know of the Daggers in the UK. We know a few others. After that? What does it mean? If I'm in a video store and a movie cover has 'Winner of 4 Academy Awards' or 'Winner of 3 Golden Globes' on it, I understand what those are. If it says, 'Winner of 6 Spade Awards' I'm left to wonder if that's a series of awards that pay tribute to PI movies or if it's got something to do with gardening.

Patti makes a good point, as do others: They can bring attention to books.

My thinking is, not all do much, though.

The list Donna made points out some awards where the criteria for selecting winners is unknown. We were researching awards for a bit, trying to decide if we should have Tinglers (Evil Kev's wretched name). We found that in some cases, send in your book, no guarantee they'll even read it. The list is selected from what the people running it choose to read. In others, no guidelines. Some committee awards have a body of three, others a body of five, and how you get to be on some of those committees is a mystery in some cases.

However, just last night the award discussion was rekindled here, because of the Arthur Ellis Awards. What we were asking was how do you compare noir to cozy? How much of the decisions is based on taste, not on writing? IMO, a lot.

So, what I wish is that the awards were not 'Best Novel' and 'Best First Novel By An American' and such, but more in keeping with the Daggers:

Best Police Procedural
Best Thriller
Best Comedy
Best PI


I should add in I have no issue with awards given out at cons voted on by attendees. It's more the other awards I'm thinking of. With some of the other awards on the list, I could name award-winners who've gone on to be dropped by their publisher, so I'm not sure how much they do help generate awareness and sales.

Always nice to win something, though. So... no real solid opinion as to if there are too many. I just wish they were structured a bit differently.
Years ago I served on the best novel committee for the Edgars. There were around 350 books submitted that year. I believe there are 500 or more now. It's really tough saying that one is better than all the others, so I'm sure taste indeed enters into it.

Isn't there a saying like, "No funny book ever wins an Edgar"? It's not true, of course. I can remember when Sharyn McCrumb won for Bimbos of the Death Sun. But not many comic mysteries have won. Or maybe my memory is just faulty.


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