Hi everyone, and thank you for tuning in to another episode of the We Make Books Podcast - A podcast about writing, publishing, and everything in between!

This week is a double header and it’s all about accolades!  First we take a question from one of our Patreon subscribers and talk about starred reviews. What are they, how do you get them, and why is that star such a big deal?  Then it’s on to our second topic: Awards!  They’re pretty awesome if you can get one, but how do you qualify for one and exactly how important to your career are these?  Just keep in mind here, the word of the week is “Subjective”.

We Make Books is hosted by Rekka Jay and Kaelyn Considine; Rekka is a published author and Kaelyn is an editor and together they are going to take you through what goes into getting a book out of your head, on to paper, in to the hands of a publisher, and finally on to book store shelves.

We Make Books is a podcast for writers and publishers, by writers and publishers and we want to hear from our listeners! Hit us up on our social media, linked below, and send us your questions, comments, concerns, the award you most wish you could win during your life, real or imagined!

We hope you enjoy We Make Books!

Twitter: @WMBCast  |  @KindofKaelyn  |  @BittyBittyZap

Instagram: @WMBCast 



Rekka (00:00):

So welcome back to another episode of we make books, a podcast about writing, publishing and everything in between. And then sometimes you publish your book and you want people to look at it and you have to figure out how to get them to look at it. And so sometimes it's after the publishing, so sometimes beyond.

Kaelyn (00:17):

Yeah. So, um, I'm Kaelyn, I'm the acquisitions editor for Parvus Press.

Rekka (00:22):

I'm Rekka and I'm fired. And I write science fiction and fantasy is RJ theater.

Kaelyn (00:28):

I'm Kaelyn and I want to go to bed.

Rekka (00:30):

Yeah, we've been doing this all day. We're backing up some episodes because we both have some travel coming up and we weren't sure when we get together again. So we have gotten to the point of being entirely punchy where, um, luckily this, this clip for the beginning is the last bit we're recording for today.

Kaelyn (00:47):

But yeah. Um, so this episode, uh, actually came to us from one of our, uh, question from one of our Patreon users, um, who was asking about starred reviews. And that kind of then also segwayed into other things that are given out to especially awesome books, which was awards as we're kind of approaching awards season. Uh, so this, this is a little bit of a split episode. We're gonna talk about starred reviews and industry reviews and then we're gonna talk about awards,

Rekka (01:14):

But we chose them to fill in the same episode because they are somewhat related in that, you know, you are being, you know, critically reviewed and um, and judged by an outside party who is considered an authority of some sort, whether that's a voting committee, a voting, um, membership or a reviewer for a publication that deals solely with, you know, reviewing books and stuff.

Kaelyn (01:40):

Exactly. So, um, you know, this is just kind of, I won't say a lot of insider knowledge, but just like a little explanation about some things that are going on behind all of this. Um, you know, in terms of the book reviews, uh, you know, trade publications and who's reviewing these and with the awards, um, we specifically talk about a couple that are relevant to our genre.

Rekka (02:06):

Our genra specifically.

Kaelyn (02:06):

Yes. Um, and you know what you have to do to qualify for some of these and what you have to do to be a voting member. So, um, anyway, uh, take a listen as always, we hope you enjoy. And as always, if you have questions, send them to us.

Rekka (02:19):

Absolutely. We love to answer listener questions because we want to know what gaps we haven't filled in yet. Um, sometimes we look into -

Kaelyn (02:26):

We may do a whole episode about it.

Rekka (02:28):

Yeah, we do. Yeah. But sometimes we look at each other and we're like, so what are we talking about this time? And like, you know what, we don't have to decide cause someone asked us a question. So here we go. So we appreciate questions and comments and interaction online. It's, it's all great and we, we really do love it. So thank you for that. And um, in our, to express our thanks. Here's an episode,

Kaelyn (03:03):

Just jotting stuff down.

Rekka (03:03):

Keep that in mind, folks. She always takes notes and she never forgets.

Kaelyn (03:10):

Oh, that's why I write stuff down, written down somewhere.

Rekka (03:13):

It's not that she hasn't forgotten, but she's going to uncover that note someday and realize that's the thing that you said. So watch what you say.

Kaelyn (03:19):

Yeah. I, um, something I don't think I've ever brought up on this. I spent three years in college as like the senior student archivist for my university. So I'm very into records

Rekka (03:33):

Archives are her jam.

Kaelyn (03:36):

Archives are awesome. They're, you know, they're fun, they're full, full, great stuff. Uh, speaking of things full of great stuff.

Rekka (03:42):

Hey, I like that segue. It's not a segue if you call attention to it. I've, I've come to understand,

Kaelyn (03:47):

Oh, that just seems like it's, yeah, that's unfair.

Rekka (03:49):

That's, yeah, that's not fair. I want to be able to recognize this. That's why you get a gong. So you don't actually say, Hey, nice segue. You just, it just rang a little.

Kaelyn (03:57):

. Is there like a noise we can insert, you know, to indicate that there's a segue. Okay.

Rekka (04:03):

You can come up with, we'll do a nice like page flip like, okay. Um, so today's episode topics starts with a question suggested by one of our patrons on patreon.com/WMBcast and Robert D McAdams who says we do not have to give him credit for the question, but we just did anyway. Asks what is a starred review? So we've touched on this in passing in a previous episode, which I'm sure Robert heard, um, when we talked about reviews in general, but a starred review is a very specific term. These are not reviews that come with star ratings like you might find on Amazon. Like, yes, there are stars, but that's not what we're talking about. So what is Kaelyn? A starred review?

Kaelyn (04:48):

Well, so before we get into that, um, and as Rekka said, we talked about this in the episode, we did all about reviews. Uh, the difference between, you know, reader reviews on good reads and Amazon and industry reviews. Industry reviews are professional trade publications, or you might hear them called the traits and they are exactly what they sound like. People send advanced copies of books to them before publication and there are people there that read them and write a few hundred words on them. Three to maybe 400. This is that -

Rekka (05:20):

If that.

Kaelyn (05:21):

Yeah, this is not, this is not going to be a long multiple page insightful exploration of this book

Rekka (05:27):

Cause they know let's be real. All you wanted was the star review.

Kaelyn (05:33):

Um, no, but even just general positive review. So there are four major trade publications. I'll start with the most, you know, coveted one publisher's weekly. A publisher's weekly is almost 150 years old. Um, they've been around for a very long time. It's a magazine that you can subscribe to or you can actually pick up on new stands in New York city.

Rekka (05:56):

Wow. Really?

Kaelyn (05:57):

Yeah, well publishers weekly is in New York city there. Um -

Rekka (05:59):

So they distribute locally.

Kaelyn (06:01):

Yup. So you can actually go to newsstands in New York city and pick up publishers weekly.

Rekka (06:05):

I have never tried to do that.

Kaelyn (06:07):

You can have it mailed to you or you can get it online. Of course there's online subscriptions. Every issue, they review a couple of hundred books, um, that are coming out. And if there is a book that they particularly like, um, it is exemplary, uh, they want to denote this book of being as particularly high quality, uh, either in writing or story or what the book accomplishes if someone there, you know, and the process when, how this happens is a little, no one's really quite sure. But anyway, yeah.

Rekka (06:45):

It's behind a curtain.

Kaelyn (06:45):

Um, they'll give it a star and that is just, it's a stamp that says we think this book is excellent. How many books do you think every year get a starred review from publishers weekly? What would you say?

Rekka (06:59):

Is it, is it guaranteed to be one per issue or a certain number per issue?

Kaelyn (07:03):

There's no guarantee for anything.

Rekka (07:04):

So there may be an issue where they don't start one at all.

Kaelyn (07:07):

Correct. They are in no way, shape or form obligated to give out a star. You only earn it on merit.

Rekka (07:12):

So the idea being this is, you did say coveted, but we're talking extremely coveted and they know you want it.

Kaelyn (07:17):

Yes. So how many do you think approximately they start in a year?

Rekka (07:22):

I'm gonna say -

Kaelyn (07:23):

Keep in mind. They will review thousands and thousands of books.

Rekka (07:26):


Kaelyn (07:26):

About 200.

Rekka (07:27):

Yeah. Okay.

Kaelyn (07:28):

Um, you know, sometimes it's a little more, sometimes it's a little less, but that's what they're, they're averaging.

Rekka (07:33):

See, I lowered it because I'm assuming that all these readers are just freaking sick of books.

Kaelyn (07:39):

Um, so publishers weekly, uh, Kirkus is kind of the, um, most close competitor of, uh, of publishers weekly. Here's the big difference between them. Uh, publisher's weekly also has like some industry gossip and some forecast kind of things in it. Kirkus is no gossip. It's a very straight forward, you know, here's the book. Here's the reveal. I'm a starred review from Kirkus is also still fantastic.

Rekka (08:03):


Kaelyn (08:04):

Um, library journal is by the same sister, uh, company as publisher weekly. Uh, library journal, however, as its name implies, is focused more towards libraries. Um, if you're wondering, well why is that different? It's because they're looking at this more from the educational side of the book. Do you think this is a valuable thing that we want to buy? Will people be asking for it? Um, finally there's Booklist a Booklist is perhaps the most kind of all of these. Um, from, you know, things I've read and heard editors and writers at Booklist are encouraged to find something nice to nice to say about the book publishers weekly and Kirk is hold no such compunction.

Rekka (08:49):

Yes. In fact, sometimes it feels as though they really enjoy taking people to task for things they don't enjoy.

Kaelyn (08:56):

Yes. Um, library journal tends to be a little more academic and a little more thumbs up, thumbs down.

Rekka (09:02):


Kaelyn (09:03):

Yeah. This is good for this. It is not good for, this would not recommend for X, Y and Z recommend for, yeah. You know what, they're gonna give you both sides.

Rekka (09:10):

Like watch out for this, but you might enjoy it if you like this.

Kaelyn (09:13):

Getting a star in publisher's weekly and Kirkus is a big fucking deal.

Rekka (09:19):

Um, so it's almost predictive of how your book is going to succeed or not, but not accurately predictive. Let's just say across the board. If you don't get a starred review or you don't get a review at all, it does not mean that your book will not do well. But people do pay attention to which reviews are starred. And at the same time, if they are willing to give it a star, it's because they're not afraid to stick their neck out about how much they like your book.

Kaelyn (09:26):

Yep. So now you're probably wondering, well, who are these, these kingmakers who are the gods sitting on top of the mountain that, um, decide these things? Um, the answer is a little bit of everyone. Um, there's going to be, you know, published authors, um, editors, school teachers, librarians, people that are involved in this, so hadn't, and you may be going like, okay, well what makes them qualified to do this? A lot of times the reviewers are broken up by subject, by genre, by category, and have some kind of expertise in that area. It could be anything from, I've read extensively about this particular thing and you have to keep in mind, I know we talk about genre fiction a lot on this show. They're reviewing everything, you know, biographies.

Rekka (10:30):

I'm just about to point that out.

Kaelyn (10:31):

Yeah, true crime,

Rekka (10:32):

Everything. Historical fiction, historical documentation style.

Kaelyn (10:37):

Um, there are viewing everything. So maybe your history teacher, well then you get to read, um, you know, the latest biography of James Madison. Uh, maybe you were in the military, so you get to read the most recent military fiction that you know, comes out.

Rekka (10:53):

So what you're saying is they're not just sending these out to anyone randomly and haphazardly.

Kaelyn (10:58):

They're focused with who receives these that said, look, reviews are subjective. You know, it's, um, and again, is there a system of checks and balances? Maybe? Probably. Hopefully.

Rekka (11:08):


Kaelyn (11:13):

You know, I think a lot of people think like, Oh, it's just, you know, college students and whatever. It's really not. They're pretty from everything, you know, I understand they're, they're pretty good about matching the books to the readers, making sure that the people that read these are people that are actually gonna enjoy that kind of book. Now, um, one thing that I will explain, I'm gonna use publisher's weekly as the example for this because they are kind of the, uh, the gold standard here, if you will. Um, so you might be thinking like, well, I have a book that I'm self publishing. Can I just send it over to get a review? Uh, you can't. Um, the reason for this is an -

Rekka (11:45):

It is gatekeeping.

Kaelyn (11:47):

It is gatekeeping. Yeah. You need to have the book be distributed. So even if you are with a publisher that only does eBooks, they're still not going to look at it. The book needs to be distributed through a traditional distributor.

Rekka (12:02):

If your indie publisher only does print on demand through KTP or IngramSpark, which is not like traditional distribution, they're not going to look at it.

Kaelyn (12:14):

Um, also, and this is where I'm, I start to get a little, uh,

Rekka (12:19):

Hot under the collar.

Kaelyn (12:20):

Get my feathers ruffled a little bit is when you go to the, um, the submissions guidelines pages on these, they'll give you a whole list of like, things they want to know. You know, a lot of it is things that you should obviously include, like release date information about the -

Rekka (12:36):

Targeted audience.

Kaelyn (12:37):

Targeted audience, that kind of important stuff. They'll also want to know how much are you spending on the marketing campaign? And for those of you who just jumped up out of your seat and went, are you kidding me? No, I'm not. Um, there is absolutely inside circles within this. If you don't think that Amazon and Barnes and noble pay publishers weekly for certain things, you're out of your mind. They do. Um, if you don't think that major publishing houses do things to guarantee eyes on copies of this, they do. Now, can they guarantee a favorable review? Absolutely not.

Rekka (13:20):


Kaelyn (13:20):

Believe me, they have, you know, I'm sure you can probably find websites that just collect, you know, quote unquote -

Rekka (13:27):

Devastating reviews.

Kaelyn (13:29):

You know, and I mean, I've, I've seen some of them. There's definitely, you know, people have written some truly scathing things.

Rekka (13:35):

Yes. I meant devastating.

Kaelyn (13:58):

Yeah. About, about people's books. Um, so the other thing to keep in mind is a lot of people that do this are paid kind of on a per review basis. They're definitely, you know, full time staff there and everything. But when you have this many books come in, you don't have that many people sitting in an office just reading these. Um, they get sent out to reviewers who aren't necessarily at the office, read them in their time and then turn in the review.

Rekka (14:05):

So the people are getting paid on a per view basis, which means they're motivated to read fast and submit as many as possible.

Kaelyn (14:13):

Do not think that even if you had a thousand people sitting in a room whose only job was to care with, to read every book that came in, they would not get through the pile they receive. They don't have time to read every single word very carefully. Um, so it's, you know, it's, it's a good group of people who truly enjoy what they're doing because they're not making a fortune off of this.

Rekka (14:37):

Right. Um, but, but they do make more if they get through more books and review more.

Kaelyn (14:41):

Yeah, exactly. So, um, what, you know is a starred review important, important is not the right word. Nice is a good word.

Rekka (14:49):

Um, is there a benefit to receiving a starred review?

Kaelyn (14:54):

Absolutely, it's going to get more attention. Um, it will, you know, it will make other, uh, publications and people within the industry set up and pay attention to it. You're a publisher and you get to go online and talk about how you got to start review.

Rekka (15:10):

Yup. Other, it's more content you can tweet.

Kaelyn (15:12):

Other outlets will specifically pay attention to it.

Rekka (15:15):

Is it the end of the world if you don't get one.

Kaelyn (15:17):

Absolutely not because most books don't.

Rekka (15:19):


Kaelyn (15:19):

90 something percent of them do not. Um, then there are books that I have personally read that got starred reviews and I was like, why? Really? Okay. And it's not that they were bad, it was just that, you know, and, but that could just be that whoever it wasn't reviewing it was particularly enjoyed.

Rekka (15:40):

Interested in that one.

Kaelyn (15:40):


Rekka (15:41):

I mean it is, no matter what you try to do at the end of the day, it is subjective.

Kaelyn (15:45):

It is subjective. Um, a starred review is you did an extra good job.

Rekka (15:51):

We really, really are excited that you're releasing this into the world. So can, if you get a, a positive review but it's not starred, it's still real helpful. You can still tweet that content. You can still add that blurb to your, if there's a usable blurb in it, you can still add that to your um copy.

Kaelyn (16:10):

Anytime somebody reviews your book and publishes it, that review is yours. Now you can quote it, you can put it on the book. You can do, you know, that is them offering that into the world for you to use.

Rekka (16:22):


Kaelyn (16:22):

Um, so if you have a pog- you know, you'll see a lot of books you pick up that say, uh, you know, an astounding tour de force author, you know, completely redefines the genre or whatever and it'll just say such and such publisher's weekly.

Rekka (16:39):


Kaelyn (16:39):

And that's, you know, that's a great thing to have if you have a review and it's not starred, but it's still good review. That's great. Most authors do not or never will have a starred review. It's like winning an Oscar, you know.

Rekka (16:55):

And by its rarity makes it more valuable, exactly why they are going to be invested in not giving them out to everybody, which means the difference between this and an Oscar is they don't have to give out one of these.

Kaelyn (17:07):


Rekka (17:08):

And the 200 that you mentioned are across all genre. So how many books are coming out in your specific genre each year or each, you know, yes. A year. How many books are coming out in your specific genre each year is they're only going to get a slice of those and those aren't promised to be distributed evenly across the genre. It might be a big year for biographies and you're just out of luck.

Kaelyn (17:28):

Yup. Yeah. So, um, start reviews are great if you get one. They are by no stretch of the imagination, the end of the world if you don't. So, you know, before we wrap that up, um, I was talking a lot about publishers weekly and I mentioned Kirkus as kind of being, you know, the counterpart to publisher's weekly. Just a couple, you know, things to clarify real quick. Um, about Kirkus and a few things that are unique about them. Um, as I'd mentioned, a, uh, publisher's weekly and library journal are a sister publications. They're both owned by Reed business organization, which puts out a whole bunch of different trade magazines. Like they put a variety.

Rekka (18:11):


Kaelyn (18:11):

Too for instance.

Rekka (18:11):


Kaelyn (18:23):

Um, these are glossy magazine type things. They're going to have pictures of the cover and you know, the thing in nice font and everything Kirkus is not glossy. It's like newspaper reprint paper. There's no pictures. It's black and white and it's just the title, the author, the review. Yeah. Here's the thing about Kirkus. Um, it costs money to get them to review your book. It's over $400. Why? Because Kirkus is kind of considering themselves a cut above. Uh, they really try to be objective, I guess, which I'm not sure how that works when you're asking for money.

Rekka (18:52):


Kaelyn (18:53):

Well, like I had mentioned, you know, like publisher's weekly has like, you know, they do some like industry gossip and that kinds of Kirkus it doesn't do that. It's very -

Rekka (19:00):

Right, they're trying to leave out everything, but the, what they think you are, you want out of their publication, they have a format that the reviews follow. That's pretty consistent so that you know what you're getting when you ask for a review. Just you don't know what they're going to think of it.

Kaelyn (19:17):

Yeah. So here's a, just an, another little thing about Kirkus. Kirkus had a controversial couple of years ago. Uh, they took back a star on a book.

Rekka (19:29):


Kaelyn (19:30):

Um, I won't mention the book exactly. Um, they -

Rekka (19:35):

It's easy to find.

Kaelyn (19:36):

It's very easy to find. Yeah. They gave it a starred review and then there, I mean -

Rekka (19:42):

There was a backlash.

Kaelyn (19:43):

There was backlash. Um, it was social backlash and Kirkus maybe not being as sensitive towards some things as they should have and they took it back. To my knowledge, that's the only time that's ever happened.

Rekka (19:57):

Yeah. It's the only one mentioned on the Wikipedia page about Kirkus. So, um, hopefully it doesn't happen again. Maybe it's taught them to be more careful so that it doesn't have to happen.

Kaelyn (20:06):

I mean, across trade publications in general. To my knowledge, and I did look for this. I could not find another instance of that ever happening.

Rekka (20:14):


Kaelyn (20:15):

Um, if, if you know of one, let us know.

Rekka (20:18):

@WMBcast on Twitter and Instagram and yeah. Um, yeah, the, I cannot imagine what it felt like to be an author who believed they received a star review and then had it rescinded because it was determined that their book made them a bad human. Yeah. Um, I'm not saying I agree or disagree with the decision because I really don't, I don't know the book, but as an author, I cannot imagine how heartbreaking that must be. Yeah. So hopefully everyone's learned their lesson and this won't have to happen again, but it probably will in this day and age, honestly.

Kaelyn (20:52):

Yeah. Um, to be honest with you, I'm surprised it took that long for it to happen. Um, this was two years ago, I think, 2017 that this happened. Um, and it was, you know, it was big news when it happened.

Rekka (21:06):

Um, so if you bring it up, I'm sure you could get people heated up over even now.

Kaelyn (21:09):

Oh God. So don't.

Rekka (21:10):

Don't do that. Don't do it. Um, but we only bring it up because it does show that there is historical precedent for a star being removed, removed after someone quote unquote earned it.

Kaelyn (21:20):

Yeah. So that it just kinda goes to show that, you know, like, yes, review magazines are supposed to kind of be the authority, the authority, and they are supposed to have the ability to review at their discretion, but sometimes they do have to take other things into consideration after they've already done that.

Rekka (21:41):


Kaelyn (21:41):

Um, so anyway, start reviews. Um, they're, they're great if you can get them. If not, it is in no way, shape or form the end of the world or your writing career in that order.

Rekka (21:53):

But that is what I started review is to answer your question, Robert, that's, um, that's what they are. That's how they're different from the, uh, reader reviews and maybe peer reviews that you might get from other authors. Um, or even, you know, just great blurbs from other people who might be, you know, like if you're writing a science fiction story like the Martian and an astronaut gave you a review and astronaut can give you an excellent review and it might look great on your cover, but it does not qualify as a starred review.

Kaelyn (22:21):

Yup. So, um, there you go. Yeah.

Rekka (22:24):

And Kaelyn can, can I have an astronaut reviewing my book?

Kaelyn (22:27):


Rekka (22:28):

Let's get one get that arranged would ya please? Awesome. So something else, let's just speaking of accolades, accolades and uh, pinning your dreams to receiving one. Yes, it's award season as we record this. Meaning there are a lot of authors out there, very hopeful that their book might gain notice and end up shortlisted for a literary award within there's genre.

Kaelyn (22:56):

I'm going to qualify all of this by saying I am going to do everything I can to be positive

Rekka (23:04):

Hold back feelings.

Kaelyn (23:04):

Be positive.

New Speaker (23:07):

Kaelyn has some feelings about awards.

Kaelyn (23:08):

Well, here's the thing. They're great. It really is like wonderful.

Rekka (23:13):

As you were just saying it's fantastic if you get one.

Kaelyn (23:16):


Rekka (23:16):

It is not the end of your career or a reflection of you as a human being or writer if you don't.

Kaelyn (23:23):

Yeah. So let's, uh, let's real quick talk about some awards now. We, you know, as we say frequently on this, uh, we, we both work in genre fiction, um, specifically science fiction and fantasy. Um, that said there are a lot of awards out there that can range to something small and local to the Nobel prize in literature, which I don't think they give out for just one book. You've got to have a pretty stellar career

Rekka (23:51):

Yeah. That's, that's more lifetime achievement award than a specific project. Um, unlike the Nobel prize for science where you might get it for one project and project for, if you're going to be a writer, you're not going to cure cancer with one book.

Kaelyn (24:07):

I don't think that's humanly possible unless it's a book on how to cure cancer.

Rekka (24:13):

Well, maybe you never can tell. Um, there's a lot of money in pharmaceuticals to treating people with cancer. You know, there's, there are some players behind those curtains moving against you. But, um, yeah, so the, the awards we're talking about are the annual awards that review much like tax seasons, the years prior activity in that genre, and someone needs to nominate you and enough people need to nominate you to put you toward the top of the list, which then is skimmed very, very much just the top of that list gets put on the ballot.

Kaelyn (24:52):

Yeah, there's usually. Well, it's like any award thing, you know, there's going to be five, maybe six choices in a category. Um, so typically what you'll find in, uh, industry, and this is, I'm, I'm fairly sure this is true across genres. There's association, there's guilds, there's, um, you know, groups that award these things. You have to be a member to vote in them.

Rekka (25:17):

But not a member usually to be nominated.

Kaelyn (25:20):

No. Um, because a lot of times to qualify for membership for these things, you might not be at that stage in your career yet. Um, but they, not all of them are just open to the general public. Some of them are the Hugo's -

Rekka (25:33):

The Hugo's are open to the general public .

Kaelyn (25:34):

- are open to the general public, um, the nebulas are not. Um, so just real quick, uh, we're talking specifically about the nebulas which are given out by the, uh, by SFWA, the science fiction and fantasy writers of America. So that is, um, American and therefore fairly English speaking centric. Uh, the Hugo's are also pretty English-speaking.

Rekka (25:53):

Yes. Though that is a global, but it is a global organization. The conference itself pops about the world each year. Um, and we say it's open to the public. You do have to pay to become a member for the year in which you want to vote. But there is no qualification like royalties or book sales or anything like that like there is with SFWA.

Kaelyn (26:14):

Yup. So SFWA is more of a professional organization because they are the science fiction and fantasy writers of America. Um, they are ma, they are very much geared towards like if anyone listening has ever gone to the nebulous conference. Um, a lot of the panels and discussions are career oriented. Um, the Hugo's are a little bit more readership oriented. Um, so that's, you know, that's just a, that's just a difference in a distinguishing point there. Uh, that said, you're going to see a lot of the people nominated across both of them.

Rekka (26:45):

Yes. The list will look very familiar across them because the people who are nominating tend to be members of more than just one. Yeah. It's like also they let's, you know, get right down to where we're going with this. The books are stand out in their category before they're nominated.

Kaelyn (27:04):

Yeah. It's kind of like the Oscars and the golden Globes and stuff. You know, the good stuff is the good stuff that's going to be already know what's going up there before anyone else finishes the year out with their own stuff. Now there's of course, all kinds of literary awards given out. There's awards that are specifically, you know, for children's books. Uh, there's awards for every genre and group is going to have their own awards that they give out. Um, you can go find lists of these online if it's something that you're interested in. Here is where, um, I get a little cynical with these things. Uh, one is that again, sometimes these can be hard to get nominated for if you're not traditionally published.

Rekka (27:40):


Kaelyn (27:54):

Um, this is, you know, I won't beat around the Bush here. This isn't a secret. You can go online and find out this kind of stuff easily. If you're self published, you're going to have a really hard time being taken seriously in some of these communities. It's getting better, but it's still not quite to where it, I personally think it should.

Rekka (27:59):

Right. Just like your family likes to hold your holiday traditions in a certain way, people do not like to let go of what they're comfortable with. And a lot of these associations were going back to their beginnings, traditionally published authors, and they saw no reason to change it yet.

Kaelyn (28:18):

So that's very, so like for instance, with SFWA it can be very hard to get into SFWA because you have to either have a job relevant to the industry and be recommended by a certain number of people. They need to actually write you a letter of recommendation to be admitted. Or to qualify as an author, you have to have a certain number of words published and have made a certain amount off of them in a year.

Rekka (28:46):

Yup. Single calendar year.

Kaelyn (28:50):

In a single calendar year. Um, it's not an absurdly difficult to reach some of money.

Rekka (28:56):

It's not impossible. And if your book takes off, even just moderately successful, you probably going to get there.

Kaelyn (29:02):

But if you're not a fulltime self-publishing author, it's hard. Yeah, you can go look up all the SFWA qualification stuff, but in their defense, it is a professional organization. Their goal is not when you're not here to have members that are trying to become authors. We are an established group of authors and writers already, right.

Rekka (29:26):

Unlike the RWA, which has gone through its own, um, metamorphosis this year, which you can find out about elsewhere if you haven't already. But, um, they have traditionally invited in aspiring authors as well as published authors.

Kaelyn (29:41):

Now, all of this that I'm saying about SFWA, SFWA is a fantastic organization. Um, they are an excellent resource for, you know, even if you're not a published author and you're trying to -

Rekka (29:53):

You're welcome to come to the nebulas whether or not you remember anyone can, can show up.

Kaelyn (29:58):

Um, they have a lot of good resources that, and people that they can put you in touch with. Um, they have a really good legal team that helps people with various, you know, issues that they may come up against.

Rekka (30:11):

Yup. There's a, a service just called a writer beware, which alerts people in a single location where, um, they can find out like, Hey, you want to watch out for this company? They have bad practices. You, you know, their contracts are gotchas and all this kind of stuff and, and you can look out for that stuff.

Kaelyn (30:51):

Um, whether or not you're a member, that's, that's all public information on their website. So they have a lot of great resources for people and, um, they have become sort of a, you know, a beacon to which science fiction and fantasy writers will flock. Yeah. And they're, um, they're, I know a lot of people in it. They're very nice people. Um, you know, that said, just be aware that if you are self published, it's -

Rekka (30:59):

It's more challenging. It's more challenging to gain entry to gain entry into find yourself particularly welcomed there. Um, and it's even more challenging to get nominated for something there. Um, the Hugo's, I would even say it's also very challenging with that. So back to, you know, so back to the awards, the things you're, you know, it's, think of the typical kind of awards you're going to get. Best short fiction, best novel, best novella, novelette, um, best, all of the various writings.

Kaelyn (31:27):

Now, um, game writers are starting to get more recognition. So there's a game writing award. There are sort of lifetime achievements, uh, service awards, things like that.

Rekka (31:37):

And then you, you have the big one, which is, you know, best novel, a novel of the year.

Kaelyn (31:41):

That's the best picture standing, whatever.

Rekka (31:44):

Um, there are career marker ones. Like, um, the beginning of a career is the outstanding award for science fiction. Um, from the Hugo, um, awards. You know, the process of getting nominated. It's, it's really like, it's exactly the way you'd get nominated for most things. You submit, there's going to be a short list that comes out within that short list. The list will be shortened further and those will be the finalists.

Kaelyn (32:10):

Yeah. So, um, that's another thing that it's like, it's a great feather in your cap if you have it. Most people will go through their lives without having one, one of these. And that does not mean they had to not have a successful writing career.

Rekka (32:40):

Right. You're going to get a temporary uptick from winning these awards. It is not going to be career lasting. Now, if you somehow manage to sweep these awards and keep getting them year after year, then that's great. But then, I mean, then people are going to start rooting against you to see you and seated by some new up and comer because you know, you've been boring them by being the predictable winner every year.

Kaelyn (32:45):

Um, so, you know, that's just a little about awards. It's, you know, we were kind of like, okay, well we had a question about starred reviews in the industry. I don't think we could do a full episode of that. And we were like, you know, what's also a nice thing to have but not a full episodes worth is you know, industry awards.

Rekka (32:57):

Um, you know, the fact is that your book for an award like that needs to have hype before it gets nominated. So the nomination is not going to hype your book because your book has already hyped people nominated because they already know about it and have already read it. So it's not like each nomination is um, you know, guaranteed new reader or anything like that on the level.

Kaelyn (33:20):

It's very difficult to get nominated for one of these. You could have written and outstanding book. I know someone who got a starred review for their book that is probably not going to be nominated for anything this year.

Rekka (33:38):

There are a lot of books released every year and the list is short and it really does come down to who do you know that can nominate you and is willing to or wants to. Um, you know, it's, it's a numbers game. It really is because there's so many awards. Lots, you know, nomination slots and there's way more books than that. And it really comes down to, you know, unlike the numbers game of like, um, market submissions and stuff like that for publications. This is also like, you've, you've got to already know enough people are fanatic for your book that, um, they're going to vote for it.

Kaelyn (34:16):

Yeah. And it's like, I mean, I know I keep referencing the Oscars, but like, you know, the Academy awards, people don't just watch a bunch of movies and then decide they like this one. There's marketing campaigns and you gotta take out ads and it's very personal and who, you know, and, um, it's almost like trying to get Senate votes. It's a four year consideration type thing. Um, you know, books, obviously it's not, it's not the same kind of setup. It takes a lot longer to get for a book than it does through a movie.

Rekka (34:47):

But and that's tricky because like, you know, if I look at, uh, an awards nomination list and say, I know I'm going to be voting because I'm a member of that year of, of that association, I look at that list and I don't go, okay, I guess I gotta read all of these and then vote. Yeah. I vote for the one that I did read and enjoyed. Yeah. If I have, you know, if I had time, I'd absolutely read the rest of them, but like I don't always have the time. Yeah. So I'm going to vote for the one that I read and enjoyed, not knowing whether I would have enjoyed some of the others on the list more or that they are more or less worthy. Like it's, it's, Ooh, I know that name.

Kaelyn (35:26):

It's, look, it's like the reviews. I mean, this, this episode is about subjective things. Very subjective. This is, you know, and I don't think I've ever seen books. I didn't like nominated or win anything. It's not that the books that are getting nominated, it's, you know, because a lot of people know this person or knew about the book and the book wasn't good and they got nominated.

Rekka (35:50):

Right. And I've seen books that I have read that I would have said, okay, well that book's just not for me. But that doesn't mean the book was bad.

Kaelyn (35:59):

Exactly. Yeah. And yeah, I think that's an important part of understanding the subjective nature of this in anything with this as just because the book, not every book is meant for you. Um, you know, we talk a lot about your target demographics and audiences and things, and there's nothing wrong with taking a step back and saying the writing is good. I just can't get behind the plot or this character -

Rekka (36:20):

Or I just, this doesn't appeal to that trope that for whatever reason, even though it's very popular.

Kaelyn (36:26):

Yeah. Not every book nominated is going to be something that you were in love with. You may not have heard of some of the books that were nominated just because they didn't cross your path. Um, but I think their general, you know,

Rekka (36:36):

The lists are usually good. It doesn't look like someone bought their way on no, but, but they have and that's because let's like, okay, just straight talk. A lot of books come out every year and a lot of them are really good.

Kaelyn (36:51):

Yup. And things tend to not get published if they're really bad.

Rekka (36:56):

I mean not always, but the evidence is there to suggest that the people who pick and purchase books know what they're doing. Yeah. Um, and I'm not just saying that cause I'm in the room with one of them.

Kaelyn (37:07):

Um, I know what I'm doing?

Rekka (37:12):

Um, but the fact is there are excellent books out there and everybody who gets published deserves to be published with, you know, asterisk on that I'm sure. But like I mean that with my heart, like if you were a writer and you, and you do this cause you love it and you work very hard and you do everything you can then like you've already done it. Yeah. Like, who cares if you're going to get an award to sit on your mantle and let me tell you, nobody wants to see you posting a photo of that to social media every day and in a month they're going to forget that you want, so don't

Kaelyn (37:44):

worry about it. Yeah. It's, it's one of those things that if it happens in your career, that's amazing. If it doesn't, that doesn't mean you're not a success.

Rekka (37:52):

Right. Or if you win it, that's awesome. You deserved it. You might also have wanted if the right people also deserve it, you might also deserve it. Yeah. I wish we could give them out like candy, but that's not how these things work.

Kaelyn (38:05):

Yeah. So, um, anyway, you know, that's just, that's kind of the episode of subjectiveness.

Rekka (38:11):

Um, um, don't pin your dreams on someone else's opinion.

Kaelyn (38:15):

Oh yeah. I like that.

Rekka (38:16):

You like that one. Okay. There's the title, but um, yeah, I, I think they combine well into the same episode because they are, they are bingo card goals.

Kaelyn (38:26):

It's awesome. If you got one, do not be hard on yourself.

Rekka (38:30):

If you have, if you haven't yet, even at the end of a very long career, you'll probably have great sales, especially if you made a full career event, but you may never get one of these things. And that's just the way that these dominoes fall.

Kaelyn (38:36):

Yeah. Hey, so speaking of accolades and uh, you know, giving out good stuff to people, uh, you can give us a review online.

Rekka (38:51):

Yes. And we will treasure it as though it were a star from Kirkus or a pretty statue of a rocket ship.

Kaelyn (38:57):

We would prefer five stars though, not just one.

Rekka (39:00):

Correct. I very much agree with that statement.

Kaelyn (39:05):

So yeah, if you can drop us a, a review online, that's great.

Rekka (39:08):

You know, speaking of things that are good and draw your attention to stuff, uh, you know, it just, it helps with, you know, feed the algorithms and get us in front of more people. And when someone's searching for writing podcasts, they'll go, Oh, well this one gets starred reviews regularly.

Kaelyn (39:22):


Rekka (39:23):

You can find us on Apple podcasts or iTunes, depending on your Mac iOS system, you can find us on, um, all the various places that you can aggregate your podcasts for your listening enjoyment such as Spotify and, and Google play and all those others. So, um, we want to be convenient for you, but it would be super convenient for us if you could leave that review on Apple podcasts or Apple iTunes just to get them all in one spot one way or another. Unfortunately, that's, we all serve at the altar of Apple at Steve jobs. Um, so we would appreciate that. Um, you can also join in conversation with us at WMB cast on Twitter or Instagram and you can find the entire archive of all our past episodes at WMB, cast.com.

Kaelyn (40:11):

So Robert, thanks for the question. Um, you know, anyone else there that has questions they'd like to send us? Obviously we, you know, we do take the time to answer them. We pay attention to those things.

Rekka (40:21):

No question is too small for us to make a whole episode or half of one or, or come up with a way to peg on.

Kaelyn (40:27):

Yep. We'll do it. Thanks for listening everyone, and we'll see you in two weeks.

New Speaker (40:27):