By Rocky Wood
Let me introduce you to the Bram Stoker Awards, given annually by the Horror Writer’s Association (HWA). Past winners include luminaries such as Stephen King and lots of lesser known writers and include a broad range of categories from Novel and First Novel, through to Non-Fiction and Poetry. They are the centerpiece of the Annual Bram Stoker Banquet and are keenly sought after Awards. The actual Award is for ‘Superior Achievement’, rather than ‘Best’ (ie, ‘Superior Achievement in Long Fiction’, not ‘Best Long Fiction’).
The HWA has only a few members in Australasia. It happens that I am just completing the first year of a two year term as an HWA Trustee (sort of like a Board Member). But everyone who writes dark fiction or non-fiction in Australia need to know about the process for the Stokers. Why?
The purpose of this post is to bring to your attention the fact that your work is eligible to be entered for this Award. You do not have to be a Member of the HWA to have your work considered. All you need to do is bring it to the attention of people who are members. These range from professional writers through those who are just beginning to get published and include such related types as Academics and Librarians. All HWA Members are entitled to ‘Recommend’ a work for Stoker consideration.
How does it work? Well, there’s a detailed review here: http://www.horror.org/stokers.htm . But in simple terms any HWA member can ‘Recommend’ an eligible work (there are some Rules but they are inclusive rather than exclusive) – the key to eligibility is that the work be published (not self-published) in any format (including electronic) during a Calendar Year. So, right now the HWA is accepting Recommendations from its members for Works published during 2009. Early in 2010 there will be a cut-off point from which the Top 10 Works (not always ten but don’t worry about that for now) in each category go onto a ‘Long Ballot’. Only ‘Active’ Members of the HWA may vote on this ballot (for definition of an Active member check here: http://www.horror.org/memrule.htm – in simple terms you have to have sold a certain amount of professional dark fiction writing).
The ‘Long Ballot’ is used to reduce the number of ‘Recommendations’ down to those ‘Nominated’ for the Final Ballot (normally four or five works). The Active Members again vote on this Ballot and the winners are announced each year at the Stoker Banquet (the 2009 nominees will learn their fate at the Banquet held in late March in Brighton, England in conjunction with the World Horror Convention).
So, what can you do? If you are a Member of the HWA you should seriously consider making Recommendations of works you consider worthy of the consideration of other Members – this process is in my opinion inclusive, not exclusive. It doesn’t necessarily mean you think the work should ‘win’ the Stoker but that it deserves consideration and listing on at least the Long Ballot. It’s often these recommendations that bring the work to the attention of other HWA Members and particularly Active voters. I am an Active – but if I don’t know about a story or poem how can I read it, or consider it for recommendation, or of course, vote for it (if it’s that good)?
If you are not a Member of the HWA you need to promote your work to those who are (to find out who are members, check out: http://horror.org/mempages.htm ). However, there are strict Protocols to avoid spamming and gratuitous over self-promotion. Here are the Rules: http://www.horror.org/stoker-etiquette.htm . Breach them at your own risk!
So, there you are. Writers are always looking to ‘break-through’. Awards are not the be-all and end-all but they may help your career.