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The Lunar Awards Aims for the Stars
Season two comes to a close and I share thoughts on the future.
Today is the final day to submit for season two of the Lunar Awards. It has been an incredible success with 26 entries in the Short Story category and 22 entries in the First Chapter category, all from an amazing variety of talented writers. Ultimately, the level of participation is what will launch us into that esteemed universe of well-respected and sought after awards. Only through your continued dedication as an author will we succeed.
For this season, I’ve decided to eliminate the random choice selection for first chapters, and everyone will be entered! The initial limit was put in place due to my fear over receiving an unmanageable number of first chapters. I want to spend the time necessary to appreciate all of the entries, and the limit was a safeguard in case the quantity ballooned out of control. The rule will remain for future seasons, but using it may never be necessary.
Reviewing the Rules
A key component of endeavors like the Lunar Awards is embracing a trial by fire approach, letting the machinations run with as little interference as possible, measuring the results and then making the necessary adjustments. From what I understand after receiving feedback, the rules will never please everyone, although they have addressed the majority of concerns.
The limited 21-day publication and submission window for short stories builds excitement and encourages authors to write on a deadline. I plan to keep this in place as long as it makes sense. Since first chapters are a component of a larger epic, it’s necessary to allow entries from the archives. Authors write first chapters infrequently, and they require a modified set of rules.
One consideration is to make first chapters a category every other season. Fantasy and science fiction novels are often written over the course of several months or a year, and it’s important the pool of candidates is large enough to warrant a second category award. In total, that would mean approximately 3 award seasons per year that allow first chapter entries. I would love your feedback on that change.
One question that arises frequently, is when the next award season will start. This will only be known to me and a presiding judge and editorial reader. Depending upon our participation, I can envision running 4-6 seasons successfully over the course of a year. Creating the custom badges takes a lot of effort, a process I hope to eventually outsource, and it’s a necessary step before beginning the next season. During the months of November/December, I have no plans to run a season.
Finding Readers and Sponsors
One of my primary goals with the Lunar Awards has always been to get more eyes on your science fiction and fantasy, to connect you with other writers, but primarily to increase your readership. The hard truth is that most fiction is still read and enjoyed as physical books. I admit that’s how I prefer to consume fiction. Yet, how I discover new authors is online through reviews, recommendations and traditional publishers. There is a relationship that exists between the two worlds that needs further investigation.
This will always be the most difficult aspect of the Lunar Awards, one of gaining market penetration and notoriety. I’m very encouraged to see more subscribers join that are not a part of my familiar network, some university students studying creative writing and some established authors with pedigree. That’s the kind of amazing variety we need, which tells me this is moving in a positive direction. If you have channels, social media or otherwise, where you can spread the word, please do so, and help all of us make this a prime destination for discovering new authors.
Increasing our readership and reach is also critical to finding sponsors. Small and mid-size companies are careful with their marketing budgets and I’m not sure we’ve reached the numbers necessary to entice them. I’m not discouraged though, and I will remain committed to finding companies willing to partner with us and award high-quality speculative fiction writers on Substack.
In general, I’m interested in companies focused on writing tools, or that sell pop culture “geek” gifts and games that align with fantasy and science fiction writers. Another option is to fund the award prizes through paid subscribership. An exciting prospect would be the ability to mail a physical award trophy to winners. The more paid subscribers we get, the closer this gets to becoming a reality.
This Is It
I recently posted the following Note, which seemed to resonate with a lot of people. It received over 100 likes, which is fairly respectable on the platform.
When I think about the future of the Lunar Awards, this is exactly how I feel. I’ve experienced the full cycle of social media (and the Internet in general), understand the opportunity Substack provides, and have no intention of focusing my energies elsewhere. I registered lunarawards.com, and plan to point the domain at Substack in the future. A founding member signup would make that an immediate reality since Substack charges a $50 one-time setup fee.
Your contributions in any form are appreciated, and my hope is that one day you will be able to attribute some of your success to what I’m trying to achieve with the Lunar Awards. To be the outlet that connected a reader with your Substack or published fiction would be a phenomenal accomplishment. It’s the best way for us to aim for the stars together.