Dragon Award Rules

I was asked elsewhere whether there was any substantial change to the Dragon Award rules. I don’t believe so but so much of it is boiler plate aimed at protecting Dragon Con from anything that it is hard to tell. An Wayback Machine archive of the rules from 2018 is here: https://web.archive.org/web/20180722193700/http://application.dragoncon.org/dragon_awards_terms_conditions.php

The two bits of most interest haven’t changed other that dates:

“ONLINE VOTING: One (1) vote in each category is allowed per person. The most popular Entries, as determined by number of nomination submissions during the Nomination Period, will be featured on the Website between 9:00 A.M. ET on August 1, 2018 and 11:59 P.M. ET on August 31, 2018 (hereinafter, “Voting Period”). Voting shall occur in a manner as determined by DRAGON CON.
No automatic, programmed, robotic or similar means of voting are permitted. Participants who do not comply with these Rules, or who attempt to interfere with the voting process or the operation of the Website in any way will be disqualified and their votes will not be counted. DRAGON CON reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to cancel, terminate, modify, or suspend voting should any virus, bug, non-authorized human intervention, fraud or other causes beyond its control corrupt or affect the administration, security, fairness or proper conduct of the voting process. All decisions regarding the voting process or acceptance of votes shall be final and shall not be subject to challenge or appeal.
SELECTION OF WINNERS: All decisions regarding the voting process and selection of winners shall be made by DRAGON CON in its sole discretion, shall be final, and shall not be subject to challenge or appeal”

There is a commitment to count nominations and use that to identify finalists and zero commitment to count votes in the second stage of voting. This has always been the case.

The other thing that hasn’t changed is the reference to ‘sweepstakes’:

PRIVACY POLICY: Personal information collected by DRAGON CON during the administration of this Award may be used by DRAGON CON to contact Entrants regarding DRAGON CON’s products or services, for its marketing purposes, in conjunction with executing the terms of this Sweepstakes.

A sweepstakes has randomly chosen winners. Which sounds at odds with the Dragon Awards but it’s even weirder than that. The term here is applying to the people nominating or voting, not the works in the contest.

So no particular news here other than the WTF aspect hasn’t changed.


13 responses to “Dragon Award Rules”

  1. I’m now assuming that leaving the Sweepstakes bit in after several years is just to troll us.


  2. If it’s a sweepstakes no wonder the lugubrious juvenile canines love the Dragon’s. It’s the only possible way they can ever win an award.


  3. So still a fake award used mainly for marketing purposes.

    But it still is under pressure to A) have big names who don’t withdraw their nominations and are willing to accept the award if the award runners choose them — most of whom want nothing to do with the Puppies and far right politics; and B) not cause an annoying PR problem for DragonCon and at least give the appearance of real awards as more and more DragonCon attendees (who are predominantly young and liberal,) will start paying attention to it. Essentially, there are limits, which grow stronger each year, to what the award runners can safely pick as the winners, and even the nominees, without having problems like they did in the second year.

    All that will eventually cause the awards to become legitimate, especially if new award runners are appointed. The people who put the awards together sort of screwed themselves by dumping the short fiction to concentrate on novels and then doing a bunch of gaming awards that they really can’t get in on much. Dumping short fiction matched some of their ideology, but it’s a lot easier to hold on to/rig winning awards through short fiction, which gets less attention and voting than novel categories. (This also helped out the 20/50 folk with the Nebulas.) The only reason the Puppies were able to get as far as they did with the Hugos is because the Hugo Awards are mainly for short fiction, magazine/anthology and fanzine writing.

    So this year and the next will be quite interesting for them. I am curious to see what they will do with the Amazon folk and how mobilized the Amazon folk will be. It will also be interesting to see how annoyed the admins of DragonCon get if the awards do not serve the marketing purposes which prompted DragonCon to allow them in the first place. But as long as they keep the current award runners in place, the changes aren’t likely to be radical, just gradual cultural pressure. At which point, the Puppies will start complaining about how the Dragons have been corrupted, yada, yada.


      • I’m pretty sure that all that lot care about are self-promotion and selling books, and they don’t feel the slightest bit of shame about anything. 😐


      • Well, as we saw, there’s some overlap between those two groups, though the marketing posse are much, much larger and broader and actually interested in selling books. The Dragons are, nominally, a popular vote award, so I think it unlikely that Amazon self-pub authors are going to now ignore it.

        But the 20/50 group specifically has more difficulty with the Dragons, and not just because the award runners pick the nominees off of the advice of the voters and then pick the winners. And that’s again the short fiction angle. With them doing short fiction to promote and extend products in their series — which is a perfectly fine thing to do and has helped the short fiction market — they had the opportunity to mobilize those in their group who had met SFWA membership requirements to vote for short fiction nominations — categories in which Nebula voters, just like most other awards’ voters, are not necessarily going to turn out as much for (though the Nebula voters are more aware of what’s going on in short fiction than most.) So again short fiction provides a channel with opportunities to at least get on short lists, which may eventually lead to their work being recognized with wins.

        But the Dragons, while a popular vote award and so authors can use mobilized fans to vote, don’t do short fiction and are very interested in games — i.e. gamer voters are unlikely to be aware of and vote for novels that aren’t bestsellers widely known by the category SFF market. So you need a lot of your own fans mobilized to vote nominate your work for novels, more than you need for short fiction. For many self-published authors, including some KU authors, that’s not necessarily a problem. But the main 20/50 authors believe in churning out the maximum amount of product they can — lots and lots of books in lots of series in short amounts of time. Getting fans to vote for one specific novel in one series in specific categories and getting enough of them when you’ve put out maybe six to ten novels in a year? A bit tricky.

        But it is possible to do. I am not at all knocking doing six-ten short novels a year. Category romance writers do it all the time and they can get fans to vote for popular vote awards like the Goodreads awards. They’re the most marketing organized authors in the fiction market and 20/50 authors can certainly benefit from learning all they can from them. But I don’t think it’s Martelle’s group that is particularly going to be having an impact on the Dragons. It’s going to be more often self-published authors who look to build a more solid, regular core fan audience, rather than lots of small fan audiences for lots of different products that are then pooled together for income.

        There is no wrong way to put out fiction for sale from only writing some short fiction to only doing one novel in seven years to writing a once a year regular series to churning out lots of short novels (which used to be the mm paperback novels,) in the same year. There is no one right way to write. Or sell the fiction either, though you don’t want to piss fiction readers off by aggressively PR-ing at them because most of them don’t like it. And if fans like a work and want to vote for it in a popular vote award, yay! People are paying attention to written fiction! The name of the game is bring in more readers, grow the whole fiction market.

        Having the KU authors come in with their fanbases and knock the Puppies and Puppy-adjacent crews out of their shrinking clubhouse certainly had an impact last year, as we discussed before. It put the award runners in a bind, since they can’t entirely ignore nomination votes when doing the nominees, and we saw the results of that. There is some popularity to the popular vote in these awards, even if they aren’t kosher. So certainly their involvement presses the awards to evolve towards legitimacy. But the award runners can’t just switch one clubhouse for another, because again they need an appearance of it being an actual competitive award and not to piss off DragonCon. The Dragons will continue to go ahead with popular votes that nominate major bestselling authors, most of whom are license publish authors, and try to get them to stay in. And more and more they will stay in because the awards are being given that appearance of legitimacy and thus become worth something as the official awards of a major con. And through that, the awards will become more legitimate.

        Which is pretty much toast for the Puppies. Right now, they are mainly clinging to the old bestsellers who share their anti-equality politics — Weber, Ringo, etc., and authors who don’t necessarily share their politics but are seen as reasonably in-group culturally and acceptable to back — Sanderson, Butcher, etc., because that’s who is still pulling in the nominations as well-known, bestselling license publish authors. But as the awards go on, that’s not necessarily going to work. They lost most of their clubhouse in only the second year of the Dragons. They aren’t going to get it back.


        • I think the series issue had an impact on the Cole/Anspach “Galaxy’s Edge’ series that had got a lot of traction in Sad & Rabid Puppy circles and Amazon-factory circles. I saw multiple cases of people saying they were nominating books from the series but not the same book and in some cases not an eligible book in the Dragon’s weird time period.

          It’s not just that active campiagning is OK in the Dragons, you more or less HAVE to campaign to get nominated (unless you’ve been blessed by the people who run it)


      • A lot of self-published writers rely on mailing lists and newsletters to keep in contact with their fans. That would be a great way to inform your fans that here is this cool award and would they consider nominating/voting for your book. However, with the rapid release schedule of many self-publishers and the weird eligbility period for the Dragons, they’d probably have to tell fans which book of theirs to nominate. Not that self-publishers haven’t made stranger demands of their fans. There were some romance self-publishers who implored readers to flip through the pages of their Kindle Unlimited books (which were usually stuffed with unrelated books for a higher pagecount and therefore payout) all the way to the end, because otherwise the “poor writer” wouldn’t get paid.

        I was also surprised that none of the Galaxy’s Edge books nabbed a Dragon nomination last year, because those books are popular with the puppy crowd, but also with the wider Kindle Unlimited SF readership. But the fact that different books in the series were basically competing against themselves may have hurt them.


        • Yup – it’s interesting that Coke didn’t overtly say “nominate this one” and say it early. The simplest explanation is that he couldn’t be bothered – which is bad news for the Dragons…


%d bloggers like this: