Thursday, November 28, 2013

Shooting the Messenger

As many people know, I'm the Head Compiler for the HWA's Awards Committee. This job means I enter information into a database. Every recommendation that is made is entered in by hand. I try and enter them every day, because several times throughout the awards season, I will get emails from people who tell me that they've just made a recommendation and why wasn't it listed yet. There are also people who recommend the same works twice and then write me to ask me why it isn't entered yet because the number hasn't gone up. I kindly inform them that they'd already made the recommendation, and I give them the exact date and time of when they made that original recommendation. (The database actually records every recommendation right down to the last second it is made.) These emails from members concerned about the "numbers" tell me that people watch the numbers of the recommendations way too closely, which is unfortunate, because it's not about having the most recommendations. There are plenty of people who will tell you that they had the most recommendations in their category in a season and didn't make the final ballot. The works that make the preliminary ballot are five  from the Rec Sheet (those with the most Recs) and five from the jury. These are then voted on by the Active and Lifetime members to produce the works that make the final ballot. (I, the Head Compiler have nothing to do with who winds up on that final ballot.)
I spend a good 2-3 hours a week altogether on the recommendations, depending on the amount. Closer to awards season, it gets busier and takes up more time. It also takes time getting the verifications entered, and adding links to works. This is all on a voluntary basis.
I can't delete any recommendations that are made, so when double recommendations do come in, I have to do a search and find, then count every single rec for that work to make sure the numbers are correct each time that work gets recommended. This also goes for people who recommend their own works, or works they've been involved with, which you're not allowed to do and it clearly states that in the rules that I did not write. If you have a link to add or change (just like it says in the rules) you write to the compiler at to have them add it. It's obvious why everybody doesn't have access to the database to change their own information, but people don't understand this, because they don't read the rules, so when they can't figure out why they can't change or add to their listing, they get frustrated and blame it on me. I just got an email asking me if I could add a link because it wasn't working for them. Guess what? If you read the rules you'll learn that it never will. (I apologize, but the more I'm thinking about this, and on Thanksgiving, the angrier I'm getting.)
Every official email that you receive from me as the Compiler, I've been told to write you, unless it is a simple reply letting you know that the spelling of your work or link has been corrected in the database. I do not, (am not permitted) to contact any of you on my own accord or question your works without the order coming from someone higher up. There isn't a single thing I can do in the database that isn't looked over by someone else.
I have two works up this year (that have been recommended,) and I've been accused of personally attacking other author's works in my same categories, because of a letter of inquiry I was told to write by the higher ups. And I just want to say I did not and would never rally against another author's work. It's such a pity I have to defend myself against something I have no control over, and that I volunteer for. There's nothing like being called really nasty names for what has to be a complete misunderstanding made by others.
Same thing goes for the HWA Newsletter. There's a rule that self-published works are not permitted in the Free Promotional Listings. I did not personally make this rule. If I had as much power as some people thought I had, I'd rule the world. But yes, believe it or not, people get upset with me, because I have to turn away their works. And now there's a big campaign going on to defame my character.
And for what?
I still haven't quite figured that out exactly, except that I know people need someone to blame. You want to blame me and call me names, because it makes you feel more like a man, woman, human being, go ahead. I've been blamed for worse and called worse names. But in the end, you're only shooting the messenger.

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