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Personal Nebula Thoughts

To start off, I'd like to thank everyone who congratulated me (and I'm sure there will be others) on my nomination. I'd also like to congratulate all my fellow nominees. Some of them are being nominated for the Nebula for their very first time, and I know how awesome that feels.

This is my fourth Nebula nomination, and to be honest I don't think my chances of winning are likely. I'm up against some very good stories, including one by an author to whom I've already lost a Nebula. Still, I plan to enjoy the ride, as I always do. I'm just grateful that my writing colleagues and peers still feel that my work is worth honoring.

Now to answer a few of the questions I've gotten since the ballot was posted.

Q: Are you excited? It must be exciting!

It's always delightful to be nominated for an award, but I have to admit, I'm a little jaded too. Part of that is because of my long losing streak; it's difficult to work up the same level of excitement as I had when my first published story got nominated for the Hugo, all the way back in 1996. When I got the call on Wednesday informing me of my nomination, the caller even acknowledged that I probably already knew how this worked. (Actually, having run the Nebulas in 1999, I'm more aware than most of how the whole process works.) So I would say that I'm somewhat excited, but probably not as excited as some of the other nominees. I've been up these same stairs before.

On the other hand, knowing that people like my work? That never gets old.

Q: Will you be going to the Nebula Awards banquet?

Sad to say, that's rather unlikely. The Nebulas are being held in Florida this year, the weekend before the Jewish holiday of Shavuot. Leaving aside the religious issues, it's a little harder for Nomi and me to travel anywhere nowadays, what with adding Muffin and Squeaker into the combination. I'll probably just stay at home, refreshing the SFWA webpage until the results are posted.

Q: Why don't you just go to the Nebulas by yourself, and leave Nomi at home to take care of the kids?

Tell you what. Why don't you go suggest that to her? I'll be standing over here, two towns over. :-)

Seriously, though, I've been to the Nebula Awards twice without Nomi and twice with Nomi. It's a lot more fun when she's around. And I don't want to be away from my kids for even a weekend. They still have that brand-new baby smell. :-)

Q: So who are you going to ask to serve as your official acceptor, should you win?

I have no idea. Jason Sizemore, the publisher of Apex Publications, is the obvious person to ask, but I already know that he's not planning to be at the Nebulas either. I might ask Stanley Schmidt to do so; he served as my acceptor when I won the Campbell Award in 1997, and he's often played the role of my acceptor again at various Hugo and Nebula ceremonies (except that he's never had to actually, you know, accept for me, since I haven't won). But it would feel odd asking him to accept for a story that I didn't offer to him for Analog.

Maybe I'll hold a contest.

Q: Why isn't "I Remember the Future" available for free on the Internet, like some of the other stories on the ballot?

A few people have asked me if I plan to make "I Remember the Future" available for free on the web for people to read. The short answer is no, not at this time. Here's the much longer answer.

Over the years, I've been happy to offer some of my stories for free over the Internet for one reason or another. In every single case, I've already had the story published by a paying market. In one case, the story was published by an online magazine that posted it for free for readers, but I got paid nevertheless. Writers have different perspectives on how much of their work to provide for free in electronic format and what good they think will come of it. I see it as a thank-you to readers who have supported me in the past and as a way to attract new readers.

The most logical reason for me to post a Nebula-nominated story online for free would be if it were eligible for the Hugo Award. This would give potential Hugo nominators a chance to read it and nominate it should they feel it as worthy as the Nebula nominators did. But by an odd quirk of the Nebula rules changes, "I Remember the Future" was still eligible for the Nebula this year even though it was published in 2008. Its chance to be on the Hugo ballot was last year, and although it did receive a lot of nominations, it failed to make it to the ballot. So as much as I would love to have that as an excuse to post the story online, I don't.

And I'll be blunt here – I'd like to sell more copies of the book I Remember the Future and I imagine my publisher would like to as well. This Nebula nomination is a chance for us to spotlight the book one more time, and possibly to convince a reader who hasn't bought it yet to finally get it. If a reader is interested enough and the story is only available in the book, it's that much more likely we'll sell more copies of the book.

All that said, I remind anyone who wants to read the story but can't afford to shell out money for the trade paperback or the hardcover of two things. One, the story is available in a variety of ebook formats, some DRM-free, for a much lower price than the hard copies. And two, you can always request that your local library acquire a copy.

Q: But doesn't that hurt your chances of winning a Nebula?

Not really.

Q: But if people can't read the story, they won't vote for it.

The only people who can vote in the Nebulas are active members of SFWA, and it so happens that the story is available to all of them in the private SFWA forums on the SFWA website. (In fact, that's probably how it ended up earning a few of its nominations.) If you're a member of SFWA, just follow this link and you'll be able to read the story.

Q: So what happens now?

I go back to work, do more writing, try to get some sleep, and celebrate my birthday in one week.

Comments

"If a reader is interested enough and the story is only available in the book, it's that much more likely we'll sell more copies of the book."

Really? Wouldn't it be more likely to work as a dazzling sampler? See this? Want more? There's more!

Then again, I'd throw all my work online happily given half a chance, and may do so.
(I mean, you should do as you like, obviously, it just seems like there are always a hundred different logic patterns to answer these questions, you know what I mean?)
Exactly. Every writer has a different approach as to what he or she wishes to do with their work when it comes to posting it online for free. IMHO, the most important basic principle is that in the end, it's the writer's decision, and no one else's.
Ah, but the first 15% of the book is already available for people to read and download for free, and that includes at least one complete story already, "Kaddish for the Last Survivor," which was both a Nebula and a Hugo finalist. So I'm already providing samplers.

If someone out there wants to read stories of mine for free, they're out there. But for the moment, I see no reason to make this particular story one of those.


Those of us who can, do and those of us who can't, read! :o)

Stick to your guns. I have to agree with you. If I spent a lot of hours, creating a Chess Set, I'm not going to set it up for folks to play for free. Time and Labor have value and folks who want things for free, should think about their own work. Do they work for free?

My personal request for all nominees who will not be attending is to consider asking a woman in attendance to accept on your behalf. If there's one you know, of course, but the "usual suspects" who tend to accept for people (such as Stanley) are mostly men and I feel like over the years this gives us pictures from the awards ceremonies that never seem to reflect the gender diversity of the winners.

Besides that, to you and all the other nominees: congrats! :)
Anne, I would be happy to ask a woman to serve as my acceptor, but as you say, it would have to be someone appropriate to act on my behalf. In the particular case of this story, I can think of three women who would be appropriate, but I don't think any of them will be in attendance.

Also, and this is a serious question: you say that you'd like me to consider asking a woman to accept in order to help get a picture from the award ceremony that would reflect the gender diversity of the winners. I'm guessing that of the eight women who won in the Short Story category in the past eight years, many of them chose a man to accept. But if I were to want my acceptor to correctly reflect diversity, shouldn't I be more concerned with choosing someone else who reflects my own diversity and is Orthodox Jewish? I think only four Jews have won this Nebula, and none of them religious.

For the Nebula Award for Short Story over the years, 22 of the winners have been women, and 21 have been men. It seems to me that this is an award category where SFWA has had no problem honoring great work, no matter the gender of the writer.

Edited at 2010-02-22 02:40 pm (UTC)
I think I see what the problem is: you keep asking Stan to do your accepting, but he's already accepted your Campbell. So, the awards simply know that you've already gotten one award via Stan, and now they shun him.

You need to pick another acceptor, and break the Curse of the Schmidt. You Boston area folks know about these sort of curse, don't you? I mean, you don't want to wait 86 years for your next writing award, do you?
Over the years, I've been happy to offer some of my stories for free over the Internet

You probably don't remember, but you once emailed your first SCSC story because I had very much enjoyed its sequel and I wanted to know how it had all begun.

My belated congratulations.
Actually, I do remember, and I was happy to do so!
Congratulations! (Sorry I'm late to the party.)
I thought the "new-baby smell" just meant that they needed changing. :)

Congratulations on the nomination.
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