The World Fantasy Awards winners were announced yesterday. I only make a note of the occasion since several close friends were nominated (none of whom won) and the accompanying convention is one of the reasons I’m blogging rather than Jeff. It’s not like the awards really mean anything in a real world money sense. There’s a joke/observation in the bookselling community that winning the World Fantasy Award dooms a book to an out of print status and relative obscurity.
Let’s look at the previous winners.
Of the nine books that won the award for best novel, five are still in print. Of those five, I’m discounting the 2005-06 winners since those were published and promoted heavily by mainstream book houses and should remain in prints for many, many years. That means 4 out of possible 7 books are out of print. A little over 50%. Not good.
- 2006 Kafka on the Shore, Haruki Murakami (in print)
- 2005 Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Susanna Clarke (in print)
- 2004 Tooth and Claw, Jo Walton (out of print)
- 2003 The Facts of Life, Graham Joyce (out of print) and Ombria in Shadow, Patricia A. McKillip (in print)
- 2002 The Other Wind, Ursula K. Le Guin (out of print)
- 2001 Declare, Tim Powers (in print) and Galveston, Sean Stewart (in print)
- 2000 Thraxas, Martin Scott (out of print)
Surprisingly as you get further out the numbers remain consistent. 6 out of 11 are out of print. Again, just over 50%.
- 1999 The Antelope Wife, Louise Erdrich (out of print)
- 1998 The Physiognomy, Jeffrey Ford (out of print)
- 1997 Godmother Night, Rachel Pollack (out of print)
- 1996 The Prestige, Christopher Priest (in print)
- 1995 Towing Jehovah, James Morrow (in print)
- 1994 Glimpses, Lewis Shiner (out of print)
- 1993 Last Call, Tim Powers (out of print)
- 1992 Boy’s Life, Robert R. McCammon (in print)
- 1991 Only Begotten Daughter, James Morrow (in print) and Thomas the Rhymer, Ellen Kushner (in print)
- 1990 Lyonesse: Madouc, Jack Vance (out of print)
8 out of 11 possible books are out of print. A whopping 73%!
- 1989 Koko, Peter Straub (out of print)
- 1988 Replay, Ken Grimwood (out of print)
- 1987 Perfume, Patrick Suskind (in print)
- 1986 Song of Kali, Dan Simmons (out of print)
- 1985 Mythago Wood, Robert Holdstock (in print) and Bridge of Birds, Barry Hughart (out of print)
- 1984 The Dragon Waiting, John M. Ford (out of print)
- 1983 Nifft the Lean, Michael Shea (out of print)
- 1982 Little, Big, John Crowley (in print)
- 1981 The Shadow of the Torturer, Gene Wolfe (out of print)
- 1980 Watchtower, Elizabeth A. Lynn (out of print)
Surprisingly, only 2 out of the 5 five winners are out of print.
- 1979 Gloriana, Michael Moorcock (out of print)
- 1978 Our Lady of Darkness, Fritz Leiber (in print)
- 1977 Doctor Rat, William Kotzwinkle (in print)
- 1976 Bid Time Return, Richard Matheson (out of print)
- 1975 The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, Patricia A. McKillip (in print)
So booksellers are not entirely wrong with some 57% of the award winners currently out of print.
I wondered how this compares to the Hugos during the same period.
There were 7 books awarded the Hugo for Best Novel 2000-2006. All are in print.
1990-1990 Of the 10 books, 3 are out of print.
1980-1989 Of the possible 9 books, 3 are out of print.
1975-1979 4 books. 1 is out of print
Roughly 23% of Hugo Award-winning novels since 1975 are out of print.
Of the genre awards, the Edgar Award for Best Mystery have the biggest impact on an author’s sales. Other key non-genre awards are the Pulitzer, National Book Award, and the Nobel. Basically, all other words including the World Fantasy, Stokers, IHG, etc. look great on the shelf, but have almost no impact on your sales.
As an editor, I was nominated for the 1996 Eisner Award for Best Anthology (Weird Business) and two other books I edited were nominated for awards. The Blueberry Saga: Confederate Gold was nominated for the 1997 Eisner Award for Best Archival Collection. Dead Heat won the the 1996 International Horror Guild (IHG) Award for Best First Novel and was nominated for The 1996 Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel. Paul Miles and I were finalist for the WSFA Small Press Award for our story “A Penny A Word”. I was honored by all the nominations, but they have little affect on my career either as a writer or editor.
I wish to extend a congratulations to all the winners and nominees. Though, it may not appear that way, the World Fantasy Awards are among my favorite awards and I have read many of the past winners and nominees. This award often speaks to my personal tastes. Sadly, according to sales, I am definitely in a minority.
(A little note… Print status was determined for US editions only. Also, I am referring primarily to adult books. Young adult and children books behavior similarly but for the addition of the Newberry and Caldecott Awards.)