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Fandom Awards and Self-Nominations : Some thinky-thoughts from spankedbyspike

spankedbyspike , one of the mods/admins of the No Rest for the Wicked Awards, continued our conversation re: the concept of self-nominations in fandom awards a few days ago and I thought their remarks worth sharing (with their kind permission):

[Spike has an opinion about this, what's your's?]
"Outside of   angelus2hot  who contact the nominees and receive the nominations, none of us know who self nominate or who is nominated by others. It's a conversation that doesn't even occur, so for those of you hesitating to self nominate you shouldn't. Also, not all of us have a lot of friends out there that know about the Awards and will think about nominating folks from their friend's list. Therefore there are amazing works online never nominated for some misgavings about self-nomination... We are all poorer for it.

I hope people reading this will stop hesitating and nominate their creations as well as those that impacted them. The Awards are simply a safe place to discover new art,fiction, meta that can touch us, make us think, make us live by proxy with characters and situations that bring new depths to our understanding and love of those fandoms and at times of ourselves. Let's all enjoy it!"

Some of my friends in this fandom have confessed to me privately that they've self-nominated one of their works, as if it were a dirty little secret.  And my response has been to reassure them that it's ok because that doesn't affect the judging processes, and  most importantly, they are a terrific writer and have a right to be proud of their work. Do I then apply that encouragement to myself?  Oh hell no, honey: "Oh I couldn't because that would be immodest and...unseemly."  I think I may actually have done so once in the past year, maybe.  (Maybe not, I don't remember.  Either  1) I've suppressed the memory, 2) my ADD is getting worse in my old age, or  3) a bit of both.  Take your pick.) Then if/when I do I go overboard in nominating work by other fans, as in "way more than the judges' minimum requirement". The Wicked Awards, for example, ask that if you self-nom, you nominate at least three other works as well. In this fandom the problem is not coming up with enough nominees but selecting a few from an embarrassment of riches. It's as if somehow this will counterbalance the terrible sin of pride I've committed.

Spike: "You've nominated how many other peoples' work?  One self-nomination doesn't tip the scales!"

(Image "borrowed" and played around with from Shadow of Reflection)

Ok, time for a Reality Check(TM): I'm a fan of a show that includes murder, torture, abuse of power, necrophilia etc as everyday occurrences - hell, I live in a world in which murder, torture, abuse of power, necrophilia, etc are everyday occurrences. (I actually have no idea about that last one, btw.  But there's some pretty freaky people in this world.) And I'm worried about being perceived as "unseemly"?  What is up with that, really?

As I'm pretty new to fandom and not the only person who has wrestled with this issue, I'd love to hear your thoughts and perspectives on this issue.  Agree or disagree with spankedbyspike , and in either case, why?  Have you ever self-nominated your own works, and how did you feel about it?  Is the reluctance to do so a "gender thing" (traditionally girls have been conditioned to be "modest" about their accomplishments), a cultural thing, or a more general "personality thing"?

(And, completely OT: Why in the name of all that is unholy do I have to put an ocean of space between every single paragraph on LJ? *le sigh*)
If the rules of the community allow self-nomination, then I see nothing wrong with it. That said, I don't nominate myself for anything because... well, if someone else nominates me for something, then win or lose, it means someone liked my stuff. Yay! But if I nominate myself, then if I win I'm being selfish (because back when fandom was in its heyday and I was writing fic regularly, I won a number of awards, and I should stand aside and let other people have a chance) or if I lose, then I'm a pathetic has-been trying and failing to cling to her glory days cringecringecringe. Boo!

(Yes, I know this is completely irrational. )

(I wouldn't nom myself at AOL regardless, because I don't write much darkfic.)

Edited at 2013-04-04 06:51 pm (UTC)
if someone else nominates me for something, then win or lose, it means someone liked my stuff.

That's how I see it, too. To me the fact that someone's nominated my story is already as good as winning. And, if were to nominate myself and lost, that would just make me worse since it would be mean that the story really wasn't good enough to be nominated :)
I have to agree. I see nothing wrong with self-nominating. There's nothing obscene about being proud of one's work and now, with it being frankly harder to drum up participation, nominating one's own work is often a necessity. I think as long as you also nominate others whose work you admire, it's absolutely above reproach.


One small thing, spankedbyspike is one of the mods/admins of the awesome wicked_awards, not absence_oflight.

with it being frankly harder to drum up participation, nominating one's own work is often a necessity. I think as long as you also nominate others whose work you admire, it's absolutely above reproach.

Good points.

One small thing, spankedbyspike is one of the mods/admins of the awesome wicked_awards, not absence_oflight.

*facepalm* Yikes! Thanks for catching that sweetie, I'll fix that right now. (I can't believe I was staring right at the wicked awards website and yet it didn't even register. If my head wasn't attached....)

I couldn't possibly self-nominate. I'd lose all my self-deprecating Brit credentials in one fell swoop.
I have self-nominated in the past, though that was for an award that specifically requested self-nomination. I don't think there's anything wrong with it, but I don't really do it now because... well, what Barb said, basically. Except for the bit about being around in fandom's heyday. :) When I first started writing I realised that there were awards, but I had absolutely no idea how one got nominated for them - so when I got my first nominations, it really did feel like an honour just to be nominated. I liked that feeling, and still do. If I self-nominate, I can't claim that. So I don't do it for utterly selfish reasons, haha.
so when I got my first nominations, it really did feel like an honour just to be nominated. I liked that feeling, and still do. If I self-nominate, I can't claim that.

*nods* Absolutely - and some of that "someone liked my work"? sort of feeling, as if I still don't trust that anyone could, even when people tell me they do. (Pretty sure that's a big freakin' childhood trust issue, though.) But I can see both sides of the issue.

With my fic, I'm on shakier ground, ie the "someone likes this?" feeling. I think I'm a very good judge of other people's fiction but not my own. Whereas with nonfiction (meta) I'm as confident judging the quality of my own as other people's. I have no idea why the discrepancy.
- (Anonymous)

What's a WGA?

I'm very firm about the notion of the quality of a work speaking for itself. And if you enjoy your own stories certainly someone else must.

if I lose, I get a little upset and then I just try harder as a writer.

*nods* Which to me is the mark of someone serious about their craft.

Not a lot of people want to read those things in the Buffyverse. But I think the Buffyverse is the perfect place for those stories.

You've raised another issue I want to post about and discuss - is "audience" a consideration for fandom writers? (We all want to be read, but it's not the same as writing for a living and having to "target" your writing.)

I've recently been a judge on *mumbleymumbley* awards in the past and I pride myself on being able to do that (yeah I'm patting myself on the freaking back here; "I have skills!") A story can come from someone I love and adore, but I judge the work on it's own terms. But then I've had a lot of practice doing that as a reader/"muse" for friends over the past ten years, including my best friend who is a novelist.
I have self-nominated in the past when the rules state that it's allowed because there are some stories I've written that I'm damn proud of. I also nominate other stories that I think should be recognized as well. Generally speaking, I don't feel guilty about doing it.
You shouldn't, because your work is terrific. No matter who nominates you, it's the judges or the reading public who chooses the winners and that renders the issue of where the nomination came from moot.

I can't imagine ever nominating my own work. If I'm nommed by someone, I get warm fuzzies for whoever nominated me, definitely, and I am BEYOND FLATTERED - mostly because I don't see in my fic what others might see in it, so if people like it enough to fill out a nomination form, it's this added pleasure that feels like a high. But I write because I love to write, and I write for others who share my OTP because I want to make them smile when they log on to LJ, and I write for the possible comments I get. There's nothing like it. If it also wins something because someone liked it enough to nominate it, that's like the ultimate cherry on top of an already incredible sundae - like making out with Channing Tatum and Ryan Gosling instead of just Channing. But I'm not into nominating myself for anything. It sounds seriously like an awards show cliché, but the writing and the sharing of my writing is enough for me.
like the ultimate cherry on top of an already incredible sundae

I've used the same "cherry on top" metaphor to describe getting nominated myself; and I'm entirely sincere about it. (but then recently when I didn't win an award even though I KNEW I wasn't the best of the nominees, my Inner Moppet - who apparently does need to be spanked - was a teensy bit disappointed. But it also made me determined to improve my writing.)

It sounds seriously like an awards show cliché, but the writing and the sharing of my writing is enough for me.

Now to me that reflects a certain confidence that is completely valid and I admire quite a bit. It's entirely different to the notion of "I don't self-nominate because I'm somehow ashamed about what that says about me."

Catching up here if no one minds...
If you go on my LJ you will realize I have stories with absolutely no comments. Even the small amount of friends I have mostly do not comment on my stories. The people that do get to read them usually don't friend me or go and spread the word about them.... Folks certainly don't trip over themselves to nominate any of my work anywhere.
Could it be that I don't write well enough? Quite possibly!
Could it be that my topics are of no interest to most people? Arguably yes!
Could it be that I am simply not out there enough for the right people to find me? Sure that's definitively a possibility!
Could it be that I need to specialize in a niche? Probably as I don't foster return business!
Should I stop writing because of all of the above reasons and maybe even more reasons not mentioned yet? No.
You write because you like the challenge, because there is a 'calling' within your soul, because there is a story that needs to be told and you can't rest until it's committed to paper, because it brings you fun, closure, pleasure and assuage your curiosity.

So, yes an Award or Prize is the Cherry on top of the Cake, it's a validation, a wonderful surprise and Most Importantly a way to find a larger public, people that have yet to discover the fabulous work you've been producing but was too 'niche' or 'buried' for them to find by themselves.

So, we are not posting just because we need somebody to tell us how great we are, but if we like to discuss the Art, the Concepts, the Means etc then we need to be found and if self-nominating is the way to go, you should.

Now I've been raised with the same European sense of self-effacing personality other people have but I am also well aware that every time I find a story that makes me happy, that I loved so much I still can't stop talking about it, then I thank everyone and every deity for putting that artist or author in my path. I can't care if that person self-nominated or not!

You don't always hear about the random people watching or joining the site; you don't know how many people discovered a work that way but we do get plenty of feedback by pm (it seems that it is hard to get people commenting on the site). People accepting to participate in Awards need to think in bigger terms than simply in "Was I validated, was I the best or not?"

I can't vouch for all award sites, I have no understanding of how voting sites work, but I and plenty of other LJ users, spend an insane amount of time following links and hoping to read quality (after all either someone nominated or someone self nominated something they are proud enough that it's bound to be enjoyable...) work.

I do it every year and I looove it.

So you won or you didn't but above that all, you also got discovered, brought concepts worth discussing to the world and made some new friends along the way. Wasn't it worthed?

As well, Awards like to only have one winner and a few runners up in general. In which perfect world do people think there can only be 3 excellent products in a pile? Sometimes there are only one and sometimes there are five or even ten. What do you think happens then? It's math and logic, you find little quirks that allow you to eliminate the extra or you have more friends than the other entries and allow math again to tip the balance. In no way it means that the other entries did not change your life and you have no appreciation for them Why get hang up on the 'oh my gosh people didn't like me because I did not win?'

Of course I am a teacher at heart, it may also mean that with some tweaks you can make a good project excellent, check the winners find out (without putting the blinders of fandoms, pairings, topics) what really works and what doesn't and then check if there are things that could have been expanded, reduced, reworked.
There is nothing that stops any nominee in any award to reread their work, catch these little typos we always miss, add a transition here and there and therefore add a bonus weight to their work just before it's reviewed by those that vote or the judges...

Overall, by participating you've made your work tighter, you've discovered new work and sometimes you get special kudos by folks you don't know... I fail to see the downside...
Re: Catching up here if no one minds...
I may have killed the thread... Sorry.

I still have one more point to make.

If one writes mostly Willow/Spike for example, has developed a following doing so and a life experience put in perspective something about the character of Oz or Wesley and said person writes a beautiful meta about the evolution of that character. The friends this LJ user have may still continue to nominate Willow/Spike stories in a way to push their agendas, getting more done in a verse they like, or get a validation of why they think the rest of the world should read more Willow/Spike.
That LJ user doesn't have that many Wes or Oz fans, don't know where to find them because she spends most of his/her time with Willow or Spike fans. Are you comfortable with the fact that maybe one of your best work ever may never be nominated for such a non-logical reason?

The idea of getting that little 'pang' of joy because someone else thought well enough about your work to nominate it is awesome but what if you know in your heart of heart that a better work of yours is getting overlooked, simply because those that could nominate you don't care about 'that' topic or character? What about the right to people that do not revolve around your circle to discover and find a validation in this rare outlook you have in that particular worlk?

Sorry for playing devil's advocte :-)

Wow. this is an interesting conversation. I've been reading fanfic for around 2 years now. I only read BTVS, specifically with Spike as a main charachter.

I probably would be okay with self-nomination if I ever did something that I thought, OMG, people must read this. I am however just beginning and have no idea if there is an OMG in the tangled web of synapses that fire the neurons round my brain. Like most everyone I guess, I am not big on the self praise, agree with the idea, if someone nominates you that is validating your worth, even though I logically know that this is more than a bit silly.

I love that Barb says she is 'clinging to the glory days'. Prime example of our self effacing nature. I wonder if Stephen King thinks of himself like that. I hope so otherwise the drive to do better is not working. Barb, someone who penned, I suppose really that is typed, Raising in the Sun will NEVER be other than a genius.

I did not comment much during my first 12 to 18 months of reading. I have never nominated at an award. I am flat out remembering what I read yesterday let alone last month, let alone when and what I would have to do to nominate. I am flat out finding the time to read what I do read. It's all a bad circle.

I have tried to post to several communities here and have got into trouble three times posting to the wrong community. I have a little white board on the wall that I keep the prompts on in an attempt to keep things straight. I still have no idea when I post if it is appropriate, Lol. My brain has lost its magical ability to keep me ordered. I blame menopause. I now know what it is like for a man, all of their lives, because I can only do one thing at a time and only think about one thing at a time. It's devastating! The poor things, they've had to cope with such a narrow view all their lives.

Anyway, I digress. (no that is nothing to do with the brain changes, my thoughts have always run off in tangents. It's just these days I usually get terribly lost, forget what I was supposed to be thinking about and run away. Sometimes it is actually kind of liberating.)

I read an author's comment on a WIP a little while ago where she said she would finish the story if people commented they wanted her to. I thought that sad, that she did not love her story enough to finish it for its sake, for the characters she had birthed and nurtured and were even then, waiting for her to finish telling their tale, to give them their end. I felt bad for the charachters, bad for the readers who wanted to see it through and bad for the author's muse, bad for the author who, to me, had lost her passion.

Now I am not so sure what I think. I have become in less than 6 weeks, a comment whore. From utter astonishment and confusion as to how to reply when the first comments started to come, to, oh no-one loves me, if I don't get any, in less than 42 days.

Comments are a nice validation and unlike a novel, you get them as you go. Instant feedback. Awards are a bit like putting out that novel. You plotted away, laughed, cried, groaned, lived with your charachters for a time now, seeing them through one crisis after another.

Just to see one's work in a list of nominations is official recognition of that work. Lovely if someone else nominated it but just as lovely if you thought enough of your work to do it yourself. I had not even thought of the other reasons put forth by Spankedbylife and others. It is a great way to get you some wider readership. It's where I went to find stories when I was in a total devour stage of fic reading.

So is this rambly enough I wonder. I think so. Yes! It is okay to self nominate! From what I've read here, we actually owe it our chosen fandom to do so because it is shrinking.

Part the two. (Obviously bloody rambly Jan.)

Will I ever self nominate? Don't know. There is my new found pesky inability to read instructions and understand them - god poor men, they've put up with this their whole miserable lives - and the whole forgetting to do it even though I meant to do it, you know, why do it today when you can put it off till tomorrow, now enhanced to the power of a million because of a truly terrifying ability to completely forget almost everything, including my name on one occasion recently! And I have not won a lot of awards in my life.

There is also my self- awareness. I have not won a lot of awards in my life. I do know that I am fairly clever at whatever I want to put some effort into. This is not a brag just recognition of how lucky I was to be born with certain abilities. I'm usually rather self contained in my need for recognition from others. Not smug. Confident. Oh, okay smug bitch. But contented one. I'm not brilliant but I'm averagely good, maybe a teeny bit above.

I just read the above para and what a lot of shit. I showed horses for a long time and I still remember a particular award where I jumped into the air when my horse was announced winner and scared the crap out of him when I threw my arms around his neck and sobbed like a little girl.

If we venture something of our own into the public arena, then we are already self nominating. If we keep doing it without feedback or award then maybe we really suck at it, maybe people are going to comment tomorrow, or maybe we are so good that we frighten everyone off.

I will try to do the nom thing and will try to do the self nom thing in the future. There must be something I've done that I like enough. I do like that feedback. And we owe it to all those people like Spanked, ..., (sorry just had to pause there for a naughty thought), who give up their own time to organise these things for the rest of us who get a whole lot of value out of them.