It's time for some tough love. For the past few months, various people inquiring about the 3rd Graphic/Fiction Awards. It's perfectly all right to wonder when they'll hand out the awards. I'm tired though of seeing people inquire it in message boards and the comments section of various blogs, including mine, especially when the said people are in no way connected to Fully Booked, the host of the competition.
Look, again, we're not employees of Fully Booked. I myself joined the competition and I'm just in the dark as the rest of you. If you honestly want to find out when the results of the competition will be declared, contact Fully Booked. And I suggest you talk to their marketing department as I doubt if Customer Service is aware of every decision of their employers (they're too busy running the day-to-day workings of the actual bookstore).
This isn't just a rant about people pestering me about the results of the contest though. It's a symptom of something bigger. Since this is, for the most part, a book blog, I'll address the writers.
Why did you join the competition? Or rather, what are your aspirations?
Is it the P100,000 ($2,000) cash prize? That's certainly a lot of money--easily the year's salary of someone earning minimum wage. If you joined the competition solely for the money, honestly, there are other ways of earning money, and certainly more than P100,000 in a year. Heck, there's always the Lotto, and they always give you the results every Wednesday.
Is it to be published? Welcome to the life of a writer! If you joined the competition because you want to get published, the fact of the matter is, you're not trying hard enough. Listen, if you want to be a writer, you can't have your eggs all in one basket. There are a lot of other local publications: The Philippines Free Press, Philippine Graphic, Story Philippines, etc. Still not enough for you? There's a ton of other international and online markets. Send your manuscript to them. You only have one story to send out? Guess what, start acting like an actual writer and write! It's what writers do. Instead of spending all this time Googling "Fully Booked Contest" and trolling various blogs, message boards, and websites, you could be out actually writing another short story and hopefully one that you can sell to a paying market.
Did you join the competition to impress or have a date with Neil Gaiman? Again, you're not trying hard enough. There are other ways to impress him. Create something else that'll be so good it'll catch his attention. Or be involved in a similarly ambitious project. If this is your goal--and I hope it isn't your only goal--don't depend on a third party to simply hand you your dreams.
In case you missed all of that, here's the deal. Writers write, edit, and send out manuscripts. The editors or whatever publication or competition you're joining might respond to you within the day. Or they might respond to you in two years. Whatever the case may be, it's out of your hands. You might follow up from time to time but aside from that, will you be idle the rest of the time? Write new stories, create new fiction. Then send them out to other markets. It's the only thing you can control. Be proactive.
Still not convinced? Fine. I'll give you my hypothesis what's happening with the 3rd Graphic/Fiction Awards.
First off, Fully Booked published a book. It's called Expeditions. Did you buy a copy?
If you answered no, then now you know why there's no announcement of the 3rd Graphic/Fiction Awards yet.
Look, publishing is a difficult business. Fully Booked took a big risk, in my opinion, in choosing to publish a book featuring the winners of the competition. Heck, quite frankly, not a lot of local books are selling and Fully Booked is no exception.
When did the announcement of the winners of the 2nd Graphic/Fiction Awards take place? Shortly after Expeditions was released. And when Neil Gaiman was in the country. Personally, I feel that was a brilliant marketing move. Because otherwise, few people would probably take notice of, much less purchase, the former. Hey, let's face it, the Graphic/Fiction Awards wouldn't be what it is if it weren't for the brand recognition of Neil Gaiman. I don't have the stats but I presume a lot of copies of Expeditions sold happened during the 2nd Graphic/Fiction Awards which not only had the presence of Neil Gaiman (yay media coverage!) but raffled off some signed material (and some hoped that they could meet or have Neil Gaiman sign some of their stuff).
Having said that, my theory is that the 3rd Graphic/Fiction Awards will take place when Neil Gaiman drops by the Philippines. I don't think it would be anytime soon (any time being this month or the next) considering the author's busy schedule (you can read his blog for updates). I do think it's going to take place this year, I just don't know when.
Don't like that deal? Well, you're not the contest organizers.
Now if you're like me, you can probably wonder how we can change the fact that there's this huge delay. For one thing, you can start making the publication of winners feasible rather than a necessary expense for the contest (or that they have to time its release with Neil Gaiman's presence). Buy a copy of Expeditions if you haven't. I mean you're hoping the next volume will contain your name right? How would you feel if only the winners and their friends and family were the only ones who bought the book?
By no means am I telling you to buy the book if you think it's utter crap. Or if you're not a fan of speculative fiction. But if that's the case, why are you joining the competition? Why don't you look around and educate yourself? I wouldn't say the Philippine speculative fiction scene is at its peak but it exists. Read it, support it, participate in it. If not, it'll wither and die. The same goes for the Graphic/Fiction Awards. It won't always be there. And whether the organizers will continue to support it depends on whether the business is feasible (on one hand, we should be grateful that Neil Gaiman provided the seed money but on the other hand, relying on donations is seldom [there are exceptions] an effective method to run a long-term institution). The best way to support the Graphic/Fiction Awards is to actually buy the books it puts out.
If you can't do any of that, isn't it presumptous of us to whine and complain about the lack of results of the Graphic/Fiction Awards? We're in it for the money and the glory and the fame but none of the gratitude. Guess what, a lot of businesses and institutions are closing down simply because they're not getting enough patrons or support. Again, I can't control whether I'll be the the winner of the contest and when it'll be announced but I can definitely control who I promote and support.