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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Literary Awards... Talent or Popularity?

Literary Awards – Talent or Popularity?
One of the first revelations I had when beginning in the literary industry is that it is extremely cliquish. It was quite disturbing to realize that a lot of popularity didn’t actually come from talent, it was more about who you associated and social-networked with.
There are those few that have a natural God-given talent that were inevitable to be successful but for every one of the rare people that applies to, there are ten more who just know and associate with the right person. Unfortunately, we have even made the mistake of making a talentless person relevant in the industry just because of their association with us. Unfortunately, we are still paying for that mistake. But that is not what I wanted to share today. I am wondering what my fellow peers think about the Literary Award winners and nominees.
Obviously, we at 21st Street Urban Editing & Publishing specialize in urban fiction. I will have to do an entirely different post regarding my feelings surrounding the exclusion of mainstream publishing awards and well-deserving urban authors. 
Because of this, the urban industry has come up with a few of their own award ceremonies. The nominees for these awards are often the same year after year. Some of these are well deserved nominations as these authors are continuing to put out quality work but in my humble opinion, some of these are based strictly on a popularity contest and nothing to do with skill or sales; therefore, are the awards being given worth any merit? I know popularity is a factor, but in the urban industry, it seems to mostly be the only criteria for winning an award. 
Should we respect these wins or just congratulate them for remaining relevant? 
Should it be based wins on actual numbers of sales and talent or are the only numbers important the amount of Twitter followers or FB friends the only numbers relevant? 
I always assumed awards were given based on talent, sales, etc. I am curious as to what my industry peers opinion is on this. Maybe it is a popularity contest and I am just na├»ve to believe that hard work, hustle and dedication to a craft should be award winning as opposed to who has the most time to social network and beg for votes. What say you literary friends? 

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