Commentary by Cherie Jung

(7 October, 2015)

I was beginning to become a little worried. It had been quite some time since I had written a commentary and I couldn’t quite settle my mind to which topic I should pursue when it plopped right into my lap. Well, right into my email inbox anyway.

Yet another email arrived, unbidden, from an author asking me to help them win an award for their book by following the link provided and voting for their book. And, oh, yes, have all of my friends and family vote for their book, too. Presumably, I am to provide my friends and family with the hyperlink to the exact spot where they can vote for this book.

My first response was a mixture of anger and a strong feeling of resentment. Nowhere in this email request to vote for said book did the author even suggest I read the book; or that my family and friends read the book. Just vote for it and gosh, they’d be really grateful. My second response was, “How grateful?” While my third response was to send the author an email reply that I had neither friends nor relatives. 

Upon further thought, I realized if one of my friends who are an author had sent me an email request imploring me to vote for their book, they no doubt would assume that I had read the thing and actually thought it was award-caliber and they would have phrased it as such. I am confident of this because in the past, when author friends have solicited my vote, they have included the caveats “if you’ve read it” and “if you liked it.” This particular email vote solicitation comes from an author I do not know personally, have not read any of their books (and I’m not likely to now), and who does not know me. I’m nothing more than an email contact they’ve picked up somewhere.

A similar situation recently presented itself in regards to the short fiction we publish here on the website. An author wanted to know if we submit stories as nominations for the various writing awards. The author mentioned two awards we were not aware of or were not active with. We will gladly look into these possibilities. Then there are the authors who ask about our award submissions policy and list five or six awards for which they feel their work should be nominated. This seems a bit amateurish to me, and in some cases, rather pompous. We do nominate stories for awards but only if we feel the story is of award-winning caliber. We publish lots of stories and we try to choose the best that are submitted to us. We think we have some quite entertaining stories for our readers but we don’t delude ourselves that every story we publish is worthy of an award. Some of the stories we publish are really outstanding – dare I say many or most of them are exciting, engaging, and intriguing – award worthy even – at least we think so, but not all of them.

I understand how a book worthy of being chosen as the year’s best could be overlooked, but why should a readers’ favorite book be chosen by people who have not even read the book?

Perhaps I am being too sensitive or too old fashioned.


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