Playing Favorites II

There has been quite a lot reaction to the post, and "back blog" discussion, on Sarah Weinman’s blog regarding the MWA’s determination that Charles Ardai’s SONG OF INNOCENCE is ineligible for Edgar consideration because it is a self-published book.

The most unusual development in this discussion is that now Charles Ardai is going to great lengths  to portray himself as just a book packager — someone who brings manuscripts to a publishing house in exchange for a commission or fee — rather than as an editor and publisher. 

This turn-of-events is especially surprising given that he has never characterized himself as a packager before,  at least not in the dozens of articles and interviews I have browsed through today on the web, nor on the Hard Case Crime site, nor in the books that he publishes (where he actually states on the copyright page that "Hard Case Crime books are selected and edited by Charles Ardai," an unusual  statement for a simple  "book packager" to make). Nor have I found any instance of him correcting anyone else who has referred to him as a publisher, editor and founder of Hard Case Crime. In fact, he has done just the opposite, taking justifiable pride as editor and publisher of one of the best mystery imprints in existence today. As he says on Sarah’s blog:

It would be foolish, of course, for me to argue that I am not, in the
public’s eye, the "publisher" of Hard Case Crime (and the editor of the
line and the face and voice of the line — I’m proud to play these

The irony is that even if one were to accept his new characterization of himself as a book packager and not, as he has claimed before, a publisher and editor — and if you were to accept his arguments regarding his relationship with Dorchester — his book would still not be eligible for Edgar consideration under our rules that define "self publication." So why is he bothering to make the distinction?

Charles Ardai argues that even if his book is a self-published title, its exclusion from the Edgars shows the injustice of the MWA in not allowing self-published books for award consideration. I disagree, for many of the same reasons that author Jason Pinter expressed on his blog today:

Having been on the other side of the publishing desk, I equate MWA’s
banning of self-published books to the rule most larger houses have of
not accepting unagented submissins. The rule is not there, of course,
out of snobbery, but to act as quality control for editors and
publishers whose time is already taxed to begin with.

[…]Getting self-published today is easier than ever. It does not take any
editorial or authorial skill to be self-published, only a pile of paper
and enough money to cover the costs. And for many, the cost is worth
seeing your manuscript bound between two covers. I can be relatively
certain that if all self-published books were permitted, the time
consumed would go from "minor inconvenience" to "near insurmountable"
almost overnight. Not to mention, in my opinion, it would encourage
even more self-publishing,
as aspiring authors would soon realize that for $199 they could be
judged on the same field as Lawrence Block. And if this leads to
authors paying a few books to get their books bound for award
consideration instead of honing their craft, I think it’d be a real
shame and could actually do the opposite of what’s intended.

[…]Since anyone can self-publish a book with ease, what is the real
difference between a self-published book and a stack of loose
manuscript pages? Or somebody with a Word file saved on their hard
dive? There must be some sort of quality control.

I would never equate Ardai’s book with "a stack of loose manuscript pages." He is an accomplished, acclaimed and respected author. But the fact remains that he self-published his novel. He was simply in a position to do a better, and much more professional job of it, than someone like Jim Hansen or John Q. Public with a credit card who only has access to services like Lulu. Ardai, on the other hand, has the advantage of already heading his own publishing company…or, if you accept his new argument, to have an existing book packaging arrangement with Dorchester under which he could include his own book.

The solution to this "problem" (not that I agree there is one) is for Ardai to submit his next book to a publisher he neither owns nor has a business relationship with as a "book packager."

42 thoughts on “Playing Favorites II”

  1. I’m not a writer-lawyer, like Dusty, or a writer-producer, like Lee, but I am about three weeks away from completing an MBA – and I’m confused about this situation from a business POV.
    “Entry barriers” are quite common in the business world, and often serve to protect an industry from a flood of inferior products.
    So if the professional MWA members themselves have voted to disqualify self-published books from Edgar nominations, what exactly is wrong with that? Doesn’t the rule simply help separate the wheat from the chaff when whittling down a gigantic list of potential nominees? And doesn’t it lend credibility to a book to have a third party sponsor its publishing?
    Doesn’t it feel like a conflict of interest (and a bit of chutzpah) to publish your own book with the expectation that it can skip the traditional validation process (of being accepted by a legitimate outside publisher) and still be eligible for an award from the very writers/voters who chose to follow the rules they developed among themselves as a guild of professionals? If a majority of the members, however, suddenly decided to self-publish, then maybe they would vote to change the rules to allow self-published nominations.
    And what if self-published books were allowed to be nominated? Would “deep pockets” then begin to buy all the top-flight editing, publishing, and distribution channels? Would that leave the majority of writers (who don’t have the means to self-publsh) at a severe disadvantage?
    As a compromise, maybe there should be a “People’s Choice Edgar” award category that could include self-published books if they receive enough nominations from the MWA members. Maybe the Associate Members and Affiliate Members should have their own category or two, without interference from the active members. There might be creative ways to include the outsiders, the black sheep, and the scofflaws without watering down the gravitas of the Edgars.
    Unfortunately, private organizations are naturally, inherently exclusive, and when the majority rules, they almost never validate scofflaws, no matter how talented or highly praised.

  2. As I follow this, two thoughts keep popping into my head.
    1. It takes a fair amount of ego to write a novel and think it will get published and that people will read it, love it, pay money for it, etc. Then it takes even more ego to write a novel and think it’s going to win an award. And I’m puzzling over the amount of ego it takes to launch a public campaign to change the award eligibility rules to include your book on the notion that, of course, you’d win if you were only allowed in. (For all I know, Ardai’s book is fantastic and every judge would be blown away and automatically vote for it, but from a somewhat objective point of view, there is that feel to it.)
    2. Ardai stumbled into one hell of a free marketing campaign. Everybody’s talking about his book. Probably even some people will buy it now to see what all the fuss is about.

  3. I can see both sides of this argument, and I don’t see much value in adding another voice at this point, but I thought Charles Ardai offered what seemed like a sane and useful suggestion for tweaking the MWA’s rules for future award years.
    Why not stipulate that active MWA members, as members who meet the criteria for active status, are granted the right to Edgar Award consideration?
    (I also thought it made sense to stipulate that works from MWA’s approved publisher list, which ostensibly excludes vanity presses, would be considered eligible, regardless of the author.)
    I agree that standards should be high, and I accept that standards lead to exclusions. But what’s the use in belonging to a professional organization whose bylaws potentially exclude its own professional members?
    Something for the MWA to consider for the future?

  4. Just to be clear, I’m NOT equating Charles’s book with a stack of manuscript pages (I think the rest of my post makes that clear, but just in case anyone doesn’t click over I want to be sure).
    I’m merely saying that because of technological advances, self-publishing a book is quite easy, and requires only a manuscript and money to cover the costs. I imagine the number of self-published books has multiplied drastically over the past ten years, and will probably continue to do so.
    As Charles said, Dorchester has final say over what books are published, so again his case is far more complicated. I’m not really taking a side in the case over whether he should or should not be eligible–that’s for MWA members with far more tenure and knowledge than I–but I understand and agree with the need to have a filter for the judging process.

  5. Jason,
    I certainly never meant to imply with my excerpt that you are equating Charles’ book with “loose manuscrpt pages.” Thank you for your comment and I apologize if I created a false impression!

  6. “Why not stipulate that active MWA members, as members who meet the criteria for active status, are granted the right to Edgar Award consideration?
    (I also thought it made sense to stipulate that works from MWA’s approved publisher list, which ostensibly excludes vanity presses, would be considered eligible, regardless of the author.)”
    What SD said. These seem to be excellent workarounds. So let’s test it; would these changes still allow MWA to maintain its standards? I think so.
    Mind, I don’t quibble with the current situation. Organizations need a “bright line” to ensure that everyone knows what’s in and what’s out. It would not be right to allow Ardai a gimme because he wrote a good book, because that would open the door to wrangling by other authors and/or publishers, and the MWA has quite enough work right now with the awards.
    So substituting another “bright line” rule like “membership entitles you to have your published book considered” or “publishers may apply so their books can be considered”, seems to solve the problem.

  7. Hmmm… in my post above there’s an aberrant link that I did not put there, to a book that I’m unfamiliar with. Lee, did my post get scrambled with a link you were building??

  8. MWA’s exclusion of “self-published” authors is rooted in an underlying prejudice that such authors are inferior and do not deserve to rub elbows with “real” authors who have “real” publishers. Like all forms of prejudice, a general derogatory attitude is applied to a whole body of human beings. Also, like all forms of prejudice, it is extremely offensive to those who are its targets. And of course, like all forms of prejudice, those holding it will one day wake up and wonder how they could have been so myopic and close-minded. Unfortunately, that day has not yet come for MWA members. The masses are still strongly lining up behind their board members who are leading the charge.
    No matter how much spin people put on the issue, however, the real barometer of whether someone is a good author lies with the four corners of the person’s book and nowhere else. It would be nice to see an organization that embraces that philosophy and recognizes excellence no matter where that excellence might come from. The MWA, however, is not that organization. It is a lesser form. And it will remain a lesser form until its members shed their prejudices, question where their “leaders” are leading them, and demand that it become something more.

  9. For someone who doesn’t care what the MWA does and has no desire to join, Jim Hansen seems to post every time the topic comes up, either here or on the Weinman blog.

  10. JMH: Guilds have existed since Renaissance times, and perform a valid economic function. Skilled artisans, such as weavers or tanners or dyers formed guilds for their mutual benefit. They offered employers skilled labor on the one hand, and by acting as gatekeepers they excluded the less skilled, which was actually a service to employers.
    Through apprenticeship newcomers advanced to journeyman status. Much of the guild structure remains in today’s craft unionism. You probably would want a journeyman electrician or plumber to work on your house. A publisher wants journeyman writers. Guilds that offer newcomers the chance to progress through apprenticeship and training could scarcely be called monopolies.
    Writers guilds are not much different from those of other artisans, and exist for the same purposes. They help make a market, protect their members from exploitation, and help ensure the quality of the product. Guilds, as gatekeepers, should zealously guard the quality of work they offer to publishers. Why do you apply your harsh strictures to writers’ guilds, but not to other artisans? Have we heard you assail plumbers or boilermakers or chefs? Your perception of the MWA as a gaggle of greedy and imperious writers fending off competitors is rather distorted, I think.

  11. JMH,
    What you posted above is completely illogical and ridiculous. A private organization’s legitimate business barrier to a flood of crappy inanimate books (you know the vast majority are quite inferior!) is in no way equal to hateful racial prejudice against human beings.
    You have employed a very common rhetorical fallacy by appealing to emotion, a technique used by advertisers and politicians to persuade people to one side of an issue, no matter how illogical.

  12. Lee, it does seem reasonable to me that MWA Actives, perhaps those who have been so for five years or longer, could be allowed to self-publish their work and qualify. The world has changed and will change further, and I have a sneaky feeling a lot of us will need to find alternative ways to get our work out into the marketplace…because of technology, if nothing else.

  13. It seems like there’s a prejudice against self-publishing as if it’s not as good as regular publishing. Does this mean that if I publish my mystery novel on my website, and charge a dollar a download, and there’s half a million downloads, that my book (and let’s assure it’s really good) is not as worthy for an Edgar than if Random House had published it and sold 10,000 copies? Because maybe my website reaches many more of my readers than Random House can. As new technology changes the playing field, good work will show up in new and not usual places. However, if a barrier is needed to ensure good work only is considered for the award, can a wide number of reviewers nominate books to a list, and can the list be short-listed by having votes, and then can the short-list by voted on by MWA members? Or something like this. Because why does it matter what technology you use to get your novel to your audience? It shouldn’t. Dicken published himself and Jane Austen’s family paid for the first printing of “Pride and Prejudice.” It’s the work that counts, I would argue, not the means by which it is published. Thanks, Lee, your arguments are interesting.

  14. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awards Oscars for excellence in film-making. It is the highest honor a film can achieve. One of those awards if Best Picture…but despite that declaration, not every movie that is made and released in the United States is eligible to be considered for that honor.
    For example, a lot of great movies, originally made for theatrical distribution are, for any number of reasons, released direct-to-DVD or have a DVD release prior to going into theaters. That doesn’t make them any less great, but they aren’t eligible for Academy Awards anyway.
    The Academy doesn’t make exceptions for direct-to-DVD movies made by Academy members, Oscar winning directors or featuring Oscar-winning stars. They have strict rules regarding eligibility and they adhere to them regardless of the quality (or lack thereof) of the films in question or the past honors of the people involved.
    Is that fair? Should they open up the Oscars to any movie, not matter how it is released to the public?
    I don’t think so. But I am sure there are some people who do.
    The Mystery Writers of America is an organization for professional mystery writers that each year honors excellence in mystery writing with our Edgar Awards.
    The MWA established eligibility criteria for their awards and applies those rules as objectively as the Academy does for the Oscars.
    I’m sure there are some self-published books that are worthy, on the basis of quality alone, of Edgar nomination. But the perceived quality, or lack thereof, is not one of the submission guidelines, nor should it be. The same is true for the WGA Awards, the Emmy Awards, and just about any other awards you can name.
    Speaking only for myself, I don’t believe the Edgars should be opened up to any book that is published, regardless of how it is published. Not accepting self-published books is a good rule and it is applied even-handedly and without favoritism (as the Ardai situations proves). I also don’t believe exceptions to the rules should be made for MWA members.

  15. From the MWA website:
    “Mystery Writers of America is the premier organization for mystery writers, professionals allied to the crime writing field, aspiring crime writers, and those who are devoted to the genre. MWA is dedicated to promoting higher regard for crime writing and recognition and respect for those who write within the genre.”
    Perhaps this also needs to include the qualifier “except for those who self-publish.”
    Frankly, I believe organizations should be allowed to do whatever they want to do. And if you’re excluded by an organization, you shouldn’t let it bother you.
    That said, I just Googled “Edgar Awards” and spent a few minutes reading the names of all the winners in all the catagories going back to the beginning. It suprised me how few of those names I recognized. It also suprised me how many names were missing. But the biggest surprise was reading the winners and seeing how many of them became huge successes.
    Not many. In fact, many aren’t even in print anymore.
    The MWA is a good organization, run by a good group of people, with good intentions. But they aren’t necessary, and you can have a long and fruitful crime writing career without them.

  16. On the other hand, the list of writers who have won the Best Novel Edgar includes:
    Ian Rankin, S.J. Rozan, T. Jefferson Parker, Jan Burke, James Lee Burke, Dick Francis, Margaret Maron, Lawrence Block, Stuart Kaminsky, Ross Thomas, Elmore Leonard, Ken Follett, Robert B. Parker, Tony Hillerman, Frederick Forsyth, Michael Crichton, Donald Westlake, John LeCarre, Eric Ambler, Margaret Millar and Raymond Chandler
    That’s a pretty damn spiffy list!

  17. Mr. Konrath, the purpose of the Edgars is to recognize and honor excellence, not marketability. Whether a winning author or a winning book does well in the marketplace is immaterial and is not included in the judging criteria. And yes, there are objective criteria, even though a subjective element exists in all art.

  18. Mr. Cooper:
    In arguing against my statement that the MWA’s exclusion of self-published authors is rooted in a prejudice against that group, you refer to self-published authors as a group which produces “a flood of crappy inanimate books.”
    Thank you for proving my point.

  19. Lee, I see what you are saying. All contests need rules, and to enter the contest everybody has to follow the same rules without exceptions. And the Oscars have a pretty strict set of rules, as an example of a contest that works very successfully on a global scale. And in applying the rules for Edgar eligiblity without exceptions, you and your MWA colleagues are doing an excellent job and maintaining the integrity of the award. However, the word “should” is creeping in. Should the rules be amended, say, for next year? Random House is a good publisher with good people, but if they don’t wish to publish a certain book and then it is published on the internet for sale, and sells half a million copies, and garners rave reviews, then why should Random House’s opinion be better than the opinion of the book buyers and the reviewers? Random House, to me, is a technology. Not the best, not the last. The Internet is a technology–not the best, not the last. I want my book to be eligible for the Edgar and so I would argue for a review of the contest by-laws to include excellent and successful work published exclusively on the Internet. Is that fair enough? Again, thanks Lee. The Edgar sure has been won by a lot of very good writers.

  20. Mr. JMH, I can’t resist another rebuttal:
    Yes, probably 80 percent of self-published books are crappy (see the Pareto Principle, A.K.A. the Law of the Vital Few), and 100 percent of all books are inanimate (see the dictionary).
    Since you’re a lawyer, and are trained to resort to cheap rhetorical clichés of argument like, “Thank you for proving my point” (even though your “point” was specious), you should realize by now that you’re beating a dead horse. And you’d be wise to dismount before the stink catches up with you, good sir.
    MBA: 3
    JDs: 0

  21. I’m happy with the MWA, happy with its rules as they apply to self-pubs, happy with Lee Goldberg, and generally happy with the Edgar choices. But how is it that Dennis Lehane has never been nominated for ANYTHING, not even Mystic River? If that isn’t art, I don’t know what is. And yet, James Patterson (James Patterson!) won for best novel. I hope Lehane doesn’t end up as Grand Master one day, without having won the prize itself.

  22. I see no reason, other than the reason of manpower, why a self-published book could not be considered for the Edgar. (They may be considered for the Nebula and Stoker, though those awards are decided by the memberships of SFWA and HWA, not by juries who must attempt to read everything that comes in.)
    The reason why one should not exclude self-published work is a simple one: good writers can and do make awful business decisions.

  23. Lee – I’m not sure the comparison with the Academy Awards is a useful one: all it really supports in the notion that ‘contests must have rules’, which nobody would argue against.
    I (genuinely) might be wrong, but I don’t believe the Academy disregards movies on the basis they might have been financed, produced, directed, written by and/or star a single person working outside the studio system. The issue is more one of distribution: whether the film played for so long in such-and-such a cinema, etc.
    Basically, it’s about the extent of the release rather than the company who release it. I’d suggest that if Charles’s book was a movie it would have played to enough people to be eligible for an Academy Award, regardless of its production history.

  24. You missed the point of my Oscar analogy, Steve. I was saying that if the film doesn’t meet the eligibility requirements (distribution, whatever etc), it doesn’t matter whether or not the participants in the movie are former Oscar winners or esteemed actors. The rules are the rules. The same is true of the Edgars. Self-published books are ineligible, regardless of who wrote them. Ardai’s book was self-published, hence it is ineligible.

  25. Dan,
    I think it would be a mistake to amend the Edgar eligibility rules to allow self-published work and my sense is that the MWA’s Board of Directors feel the same way.
    We are hardly alone in this view. Self-published works don’t meet the eligibility requirements for awards given by the majority of professional writers organizations.

  26. James Patterson has never won an Edgar for Best Novel. He did win Best First for The Thomas Berryman Murders — but believe it or not, he was actually regarded as being quite a good writer at one point.
    As for Lehane — I wouldn’t have voted for Mystic River for Best Novel. So you see how subjective it all is.

  27. Lee – thanks for the reply. I understand your point, but I feel using the analogy in such a simple way is attacking a straw-man. I don’t think anyone would argue that rules should be bent for specific people (objections seem to be over whether Charles’s book meets the criteria, not whether those criteria should be waived specifically for him). The issue is that the perceived/acknowledged quality of Charles’s work provides a clear counter-argument against the rules being as they are. Quality is not a reason for disregarding the rules; but if you’re granting an award based on quality it is, very obviously, a reason to consider revising them.
    The rules for Academy Award eligibility seem to be aimed more at clarifying what constitutes a ‘film’ being ‘released’ and ‘when’. You could argue the self-publishing rule is doing the same, but the particular analogy you’ve made doesn’t really support that argument: the Academy rules don’t exclude the equivalent of ‘self-published’ films, and Charles’s work would probably be eligible. If you’re simply saying ‘contest rules must be followed’ then, with the greatest of respect, I’m not sure why you bothered with an analogy at all.

  28. Steve,
    The issue is whether Charles Ardai’s book meets our eligibility requirements or not. It does not.
    Some people seem surprised and upset that the MWA has eligibility requirements for the Edgars at all, which is why I used the Oscars as an comparison. I could just as easily have used any of a dozen of other awards in literary or other fields as examples.
    But let’s stick with the Oscars for a moment.
    A great film is a great film, regardless of when or how it was released. Why should the Oscars have any requirements regarding release or distribution? Shouldn’t Best Picture mean Best Picture not Best Picture Released or Distributed in a Particular Manner? Isn’t it exclusionary?
    What about all those movies that can’t find a distributor (like an author who can’t get a publisher)?
    Or can’t get released for X number of days in X number of theatres (like an author who goes POD and sells on the Internet rather than going off-set and selling to brick-and-mortar stores)?
    Why should a fantastic movie be denied an Oscar simply because it came out on DVD (like a book in POD) or was shown once on HBO (like a book sold only on the Internet) before getting a theatrical distribution (like a book that is distributed to bookstores)?
    If we follow Dan’s argument, distribution and release is just a technology issue. So what difference does it make how a movie is released or distributed?
    If we follow your argument, if one of those disqualified movies is great, isn’t that “a clear counter-argument against the rules being as they are?”
    The analogy fits.
    We have rules, we followed them. Should the rules be changed because some people consider one of the disqualified books to be pretty good? No, I don’t think so. Should the rules be changed because the disqualified book was written by someone who is an MWA member? No, I don’t think so.

  29. Lee – many of your comparisons in that last comment seem slightly arbitrary to me.
    Surely, the equivalent of self-publishing in the movie world would be someone whose name appeared as writer, director, producer, and so on, and who made and distributed the film entirely on their own terms? Such a film would be eligible, so long as it was shown in cinemas to the Academy’s standards.
    And the equivalent of the self-publishing ‘ban’ in the movie world would be to say ‘this film isn’t eligible because it wasn’t produced or distributed by approved company X’, which they don’t do. To assume the equivalent is something else – ‘going straight to DVD’, for example – is pretty obviously begging the question. You’re choosing something simply on the basis that it would make the film ineligible.
    That’s really the only point I was making. An analogy with the Academy Awards isn’t well-chosen, because the equivalent of a ‘self-published’ film would actually be fine.
    But yes, I would argue that the exclusion of Charles’s book – from what I’ve heard – provides a counter-argument. If you’re attempting to find the best book, then the more good books you can’t consider, the less authority your award ultimately has. One example means little, but it’s still a counter-argument. However, your integrity in enforcing the rule fairly and universally is not in doubt.
    Anyway – enough, I’m sure.

  30. Two points to consider, then I’ll bow out as well. Is anything being excluded other than Songs that someone will go on record recommending for serious consideration? If not, then the argument is too hypothetical to care much about. (True, great books COULD be excluded. But if they’re not then the rule is hardly as outrageous as some make it out to be.) The other is that all of this objection, other than from JD Rhoades, is by non-MWA members. If people care so much about what MWA is doing, they should join and work from within to make changes. If they don’t care to join, then they don’t have a say in what MWA does anyway.

  31. Seems to me Nick M. probably made the best possible case for someday reconsidering the issue a ways back, just by stating a virtually irrefutable truth, to wit “good writers make bad business decisions.” Anyway, enough indeed.

  32. Mystic River was nominated for Best Screenplay a few years ago and Dennis Lehane was one of 9 writers who won and Edgar for The Wire last year.

  33. Brian Helgeland was nominated for best screenplay, not Lehane (whose WGA credit is the underlying work).
    There was no nomination last year for The Wire. There was a nomination for Wire in the Blood (Redemption). Maybe that’s what you’re thinking of.
    In any event, what I’m bitching about is that Lehane was never nominated for any of his books, let alone Mystic River. My favorite mystery novel by my favorite mystery writer. So, okay, I’m just a little bit subjective…

  34. I just read this amazing remark about Lee Goldberg: “Lee is a self-aggrandizing blowhard who is so amazed that he is able to turn a buck from writing that he has become an insufferable snob to hide the fact that he is an unbearable hack.”
    The honey tongued writer of those endearing words, his sugar-scented pen dipped into the inkwell of good will, is off the mark. I am the self-aggrandizing blow hard, insufferable snob, and unbearable hack. My name? Burl Barer, Brilliant Author. Edgar Award winner? Yes. Related to Lee? Yes. I am his uncle. When it comes to absurdity and overstatement, I have him beat by fifteen years of prolixity and verbosity.
    Put Lee, Tod and I in a room together and its like being in a NASA wind tunnel. Face it, anyone who makes a living as a writer must be doing something either commendable or illegal.
    Lee is also a two-time Edgar Award nominee, and most important, Lee is more than willing to be wrong. He learned long ago that the best way to be correct is to be open to correction. You show him where he erred, and he says “thank you,” not “f*** you.”
    I am as flummoxed by the “self-printed” vs “alternative publishing” situation as everyone else, but recalcitrance and contumacious posturing doesn’t resolve the situation.
    Warmest literary regards,
    Burl Barer, Brilliant Author

  35. HBO’s The Wire was nominated for best miniseries in 2007 and won the Edgar. Richard Price and Bill Zorzi accepted the award for the entire writing staff.

  36. >>HBO’s The Wire was nominated for best miniseries in 2007 and >>won the Edgar.
    And well deserved. The best written show on television IMO.

  37. Well nothing has changed on this topic. Lately I’ve taken on contest winners as the new vanity press writers under the umbrella of major publishers. i.e. the slew of recent contests this year. These winners are only found in a few select Borders stores. The prizes are $5000 and $3000. With no shelf placement in LA how wide could they go? This is the new vanity paradigm: A caste system in mainstream publishing.

  38. I wasn’t arguing against the merit of any Edgar award winning story, Mr. Wheeler. I was stating that Edgars, and the MWA, aren’t required to have a very nice career as a crime writer.
    As for there being “ojective criteria” in judging, I’m sure most judges try to be objective. But it simply isn’t possible. Taste is subjective.
    If something is nominated for a respected award, it’s a resonable assumption to believe it already has a measure of merit.
    But when it comes to choosing one winner among the final nominees, it has to come down to personal preference. Different stories work for different people.
    I’m not aware of any checklist of objective criteria that determines the worthiness of a work of art. And even if criteria do exist, it still requires a judge to determine if those criteria are met, which is still subjective.

  39. A Footnote to the Ardai Issue

    Lately, Hard Case Crime editor and publisher Charles Ardai has gone to great pains to claim he’s not really an editor and publisher…and that his book SONGS OF INNOCENCE, which was published under his imprint, isn’t self-published and therefore should

  40. MWA’S Definition of “Self-Published”

    The Mystery Writers of America has revised the language of their definition of self-publication for membership application, publisher approval, and Edgar eligibility. The changes were made for greater clarity and specificity. “Self-published” or “coope…


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