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Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Clarification necessary 

After yesterday's semi-wild events concerning the release of the Edgar Awards nomination list, cooler heads are starting to prevail--certainly at this end. (A good night's sleep coupled with relief at personal developments will do that.) Thus, I should make clear that in reporting what had happened, I wasn't trying to criticize the MWA's handling of things--gently chide, perhaps, and--gasp--even be a little bit snarky, but in the end, I wholeheartedly agree with the comments here and elsewhere that Michael Connelly's withdrawal from the Best Novel list was the right move. In fact, it appears that Connelly had requested that Little, Brown not submit LOST LIGHT for consideration in the first place--but the request was ignored by the publisher and the book went through the submission process anyway.

So what to do? Obviously, mistakes happen, and no submission process is ever perfect. Never mind that to the best of my knowledge, a sitting president has never been nominated for Best Novel before. But considering that the submission list for each category had been publicly available on the MWA's website for months, it would have behooved the publisher to ascertain--considering Connelly's request--that if LOST LIGHT was on the list, that some action could be taken to remove it. The submission list has been crucial in making sure that books were submitted by the November 30 deadline, that novels originally listed in one category by mistake could be moved to another, and-well, if you're me--to start placing your bets. Sure, it's an extra bit of double-checking in an age when no one has enough time to do the first check, but there can't be anyone who wants a repeat of the awkwardness of the last couple of days.

So for the publishers--double check with your authors that their book is submitted, since it's your responsibility to do so, or make sure that a book should NOT be. Make sure that it's being submitted in the right category--sure, publishers may promote a book as a "debut" but if there's a pseudonym used or it's for a different genre, it's not a first novel anymore. Same goes with short stories--just because a story appeared in an anthology published in the year of submission, doesn't mean that was its first appearance in a published format, be it in print or online. No doubt I'm stating the obvious and like I said, mistakes occur; but let's hope they are caught earlier and that next year's nomination process goes much more smoothly.

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