Planetary Awards

Awards for Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing

Award Categories

We’ve announced a new science fiction / fantasy award, discussed who should be eligible to vote and when we should vote. Now, we tackle the issue of award categories.

Should different genres get their own awards, such as one set of awards for science fiction, one for high/epic fantasy, and another for urban fantasy/paranormal? This boils down to how much overlap there is in the interests of our voters. If voters are primarily interested in just one genre, they might find their votes always overwhelmed by a different voting group. The downside to separating the genres is that as the other factors listed below are included, the number of categories balloons. Also, do science fiction bloggers get to vote in fantasy categories?

Award categories for different lengths of work are traditional. Other awards use novel, novellla, novellete, and short story as categories. Novel is an obvious category to keep, but few bloggers review shorter works, so perhaps it would be practical to combine the others into a shorter-than-novel category.

Should novels that extend a series get their own category, separate from standalone / first-in-a-series novels? Series novels build on past worldbuilding and character development; is it fair to put them in competition with novels that start from nothing?

Should self-published or small press works get separate categories? Fundamentally, they are the same type of product, but they don’t benefit from the publicity and placement the big publishing houses provide. Since fewer bloggers review self-published works, will these categories be viable?

Please use the comments section to leave some feedback about categories.


15 comments on “Award Categories

  1. Cirsova
    October 16, 2015

    I think that breaking spec fic down into subgenres for awards is a bad idea because it might end up effectively punishing cross-over stuff. I mean, once it comes out and I have a chance to read it, (if it is as good as the last two books), I’ll probably be shilling hard for Sceptre of Morgulan; the series is basically Vampires in Lankhmar, so would it be horror or fantasy?

    I could go either way on the series question, but on breakdown by genre, I’m a no.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Planetary Defense Commander
      October 18, 2015

      It could hurt crossover stuff, or it could help, by giving two possible categories for a nomination.

      At least for the first year, I think we will go without genre breakdowns, simply because the number of voters will be small. If we draw in more people, we can revisit the issue for future years.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Jan Hawke
    October 16, 2015

    Tough calls all round…

    Taking length first (‘cos it’s clearest cut) I think that full length novels are getting pretty rare these days and some traditionalists would quibble heatedly over word counts that come in under the 100,000 mark, let alone 70,000. The eBook market in particular is jammed with shorter works, and sci-fi as a category in particular would suffer if there’s nothing to be won for novella-length work. So, yes – I’d say you would need at least 2 sub-divisions for full novels and shorts.
    I’d also be tempted to include a distinct category for anthologies as there’s some great ones out there – it doesn’t matter (to me anyway) whether it’s a single author or several, I just like the form and variety they usually have. 🙂

    Self-published v Big Boys. On balance, yes – keep them separate, as the playing fields aren’t level, especially if you get into the employee arguments, then splitting them wouldn’t be such an issue.
    As a member of Rave Reviews Book Club (Google it) I beg to differ that international indie work doesn’t get reviewed – that’s exactly what we do and we’re getting to be a pretty big club these days.

    Sub-genres… Oh dear Lord! I think this needs to controlled else we’ll have more varieties than Mr. Heinz. Fantasy’s the main culprit here, but you could maybe prune it to, for instance, ‘Traditional’ (epic, elves and quests etc), Contemporary and Horror perhaps? But then there’s Steampunk, which kind of straddles… This one will be tough, but if the categories are broad or based on ISBN or Amazon’s system perhaps (so a set prescriptive solution) that might make it more manageable.

    Series – book 1 could be stand alone, provided the rest aren’t treated that way. That way credit can be given for world/concept building against one-off titles.

    Hope this thinking out loud helps!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Planetary Defense Commander
      October 18, 2015

      Most awards use 40,000 words as the lower limit for a novel, because once upon a time, that was an acceptable length for publication. Then it crept up to 60,000 and now it seems to be up around 90,000. Those numbers are for science fiction, fantasy numbers are even higher, I’d guess.

      I’m glad to see novellas making a comeback due to a couple different industry trends, I hope they will continue.

      I had thought about an anthology category, but am leaning towards letting them try to win with an individual short story, rather than as an overall work.

      Whether to have a separate self-pub award is the probably the trickiest issue of them all…

      I must have misjudged RRBC, I thought it was mostly for Amazon reviews, although I see it a lot on twitter as well… I didn’t know a lot of the activity was on blogs as well.

      Thanks for all your thoughts!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jan Hawke
        October 18, 2015

        You’re welcome – RRBC do kind of have Amazon as the gold standard for the reviews aspect (for eBooks it would be mad not to), but members are encouraged to state if they review elsewhere too and the bigger chains like Goodreads and Barnes & Noble are frequently included.
        For Indie support and/or promo Twitter and FB are widely used and the RRBC blog site itself has a lot of other support activity geared to the indie market!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Planetary Defense Commander
    October 16, 2015

    Reblogged this on Planetary Defense Command and commented:

    The final issue on which I’m seeking input: categories of awards.


  4. John W. Howell
    October 16, 2015

    I think you can divide into two main categories Self-pub and traditional. Then in each two main categories Fantasy and Sci-Fi. Then under each two more categories Full-length and Novella and then under each series and single edition.. You would have eight first awards in total. (and as many second and third place) Self-pub Fantasy 1- Series and 2- Single. Self-Pub 3-Sci-fi series and 4- single. Traditional fantasy 5- series and 6- single and Traditional 7- sci-fi series and 8- single. BTW thanks for following my blog.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Planetary Defense Commander
      October 18, 2015

      I’d love to have all those categories, but it looks like we may have a small group for the first year, so I’ll try to keep the number of categories small.

      Thinking about myself as a voter, if there were a large number of categories, I might decide to vote only in the short story ones. Others might choose just the novel ones, or just the fantasy ones, etc. That would be fine if we had a couple hundred voters, but if we have just a couple dozen, it would mean too few voters per category.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. M T McGuire
    October 18, 2015

    I’d put self pubbed and trad together and keep the categories simple. Shorts, novellas, full length novels and age ranges. There will be many complicated categories unless you say no children’s or no ya or tha like.



    Liked by 1 person

    • Planetary Defense Commander
      October 20, 2015

      I wasn’t planning to have separate YA categories, since a lot of adults read YA as well, and if my own childhood experiences are typical, a lot of young adults read above their age category.

      But, if we get a large number of voters in our first year, then for future years we can consider new categories for ages as well as length and genre.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. clayfoot2
    October 20, 2015

    Perhaps to begin with, Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror would be enough for the genre categories. Crossover books might fit in more than one category, but the nomination could be limited to only one. If it’s Science Fantasy, for example, the book may be nominated for Science Fiction or Fantasy (maybe depending on which is the strongest element), but not both.

    Defining word count lengths has become pretty arbitrary, but I think it could be encompassed within 4 length categories: short stories, novellas, short novels (say, 40k-70k), and long novels (over 70k or whatever winds up as the upper limit for the shorter novels).
    Short-short stories could be added as a 5th length–there’s a lot of pretty awesome microfiction out there, too. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • Planetary Defense Commander
      October 20, 2015

      I’ll put up another post soon summarizing the current plan.

      As I mentioned to John, I think we’ll need to keep the number of categories very small to prevent lightly-contested or even empty categories. If hundreds of bloggers had expressed an interest, we could start with lots of categories, but we don’t have that many potential nominators/voters yet.

      If we get a surge in voting interest one year, then we can expand the number of categories for the next year.

      Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on October 16, 2015 by in brainstorm and tagged , , , , , , , , .

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