I’m still playing with my great-big-spreadsheet of Dragon Award finalists. I think yesterday’s data shows conclusively that 2019 is different in the character of the finalists but I want to dig deeper into that.
The change in character raises the question of change in voters. There’s roughly three possibilities, more, less or the same:
- Maybe more people nominated this year, boosting an organic vote that reduced the impact of more factional votes.
- Maybe fewer people nominated this year, but mainly in the former of fewer factional voters reducing their overall impact.
- Maybe about the same numbers of people nominated but there was a shift in who voted and how they voted.
I don’t mean ‘factional voters’ in a pejorative sense, I just need a name for people voting because of a specific call-to-action kind of request from an author or author group they liked.
A fourth possibility is very few people vote every year and the choices have substantial input from admins i.e. the choices are curated. We know from previous years that there’s some sensible curation going on with the categories works appear in (e.g. ‘The Fifth Season’ and ‘Changeling Island’ appearing in two categories in 2016 or in other years works that authors had boosted for one category appearing in another).
Without data there is no way to tell. Some pertinent facts are:
- Promotion of the awards remains weak. ‘Dragon Award’ has SEO problem. I just did a search on “Dragon Award” on Google for the past week and the top hits were Cora’s blog, File 770 and here, which (no offence to any of those august organs) suggests the announcement didn’t get the wider coverage it needs.
- Boosting of the awards this year was much lower. I saw fewer people asking for nominations from fans. Really hard to quantify but I thought there was noticeably less interest. Not sure why.
- On the plus side, Larry Correia has consistently promoted the awards, so there’s no reason to assume that fewer of his wider circle of fans nominated works this year.
- Red Panda Fraction’s eligibility sheet made it a lot easier for people to find works and nominate.
- On the “huh?” side of things Larry Correia is a finalist although he asked his fans not to nominate him. And Ian McEwan is a finalist, which just seems odd.
But for the sake of argument let us assume that the wider pool of Larry Correia/Baen voters was the same and that there was at least some extra voters because of Red Panda’s activities. Notably the proportion of Baen works nominated went *down* so the impact of Baen voters was reduced which, putting it altogether, implies the total vote went up. Maybe. Without numbers this remains guesswork.
So here is a graph. There are more graphs below the fold along with explanations but as they take up a lot of space I’m hiding the rest from casual view.
You clicked for more you magnificent nerd!
So I’ve been trying to tackle publishing categories and they are a pain. In the line graph above I first separated out Baen and Castalia House and then I classified everybody else as either traditionally published or not.
Baen’s best year was 2016, Castalia’s was 2017. I just looked at novels, so the one comic Vox Day got on the ballot in 2018 doesn’t show up. 2018 was also the best year for the non-trad books. An interesting exercise would be to see which books were available on Kindle Unlimited that year but it is an exercise beyond my patience.
Grouping nominees by publisher is an utter pain in the bottom. ‘Publisher’ is a terrible category for this set of data where it means quite different kinds of roles and organisations. Some publishers are essentially just the author, others are a group of friends, some are weird schemes like Inkshares and traditional publishers are a maze of imprints and companies owned by other companies.
With mainstream imprints I have tried to go to the broadest level of ownership for the biggest names. For a whole bunch of works with a mainstream publisher that only appears once or twice, I’ve lumped them together as ‘medium’, these are typically big publishers that aren’t owned by Macmillan, Hachette etc (or at least I don’t think they are). CBS is mainly Simon & Schuster.
“Amazon”, well everything is Amazon and nearly nothing is. In the end the only works that are classified as Amazon are those published by 47North – it’s quasi imprint.
“lf-published” is self-published but I messed up cropping the picture. “Small” is just a grab-bag of any publisher name that I couldn’t tell if it was a bijou trad-publisher or some guy formatting ebooks for Kindle Unlimited. “CKP” is Chris Kennedy’s suite of imprints, many with Baen adjacent authors. It’s a significant player in the Dragon Awards but not always obviously so because it has several brands in play.
I sorted the categories with trad (minus Baen) on one side and non-trad on the other.
Here we go, year by year, to see how things change.
2016: First year out, Tor, Orbit, Roc and Del-Rey filling out the big-three’s numbers. Strong showing from Baen. Nothing from smaller trad-publishers (aside from Baen) i.e. my ‘medium’ category’
2017: The weakest year for the trad publishers. Inkshares were the surprise player. CKP makes its first showing.
2018: No more Castalia House. CKP makes a big showing. The distribution among the trad-publishers is very different. There’s a greater variety of publisher among the trads. The decline in self-published works maybe just more writers calling themselves a publisher or joining with friends.
2019: Hachette, Penguin and Macmillan are back to similar proportions as 2016/17. The gain for trad-pub works has been in other publishers. CKP is still strong.