Saturday, October 6, 2012

Publisher Steve Berman Says Lambda Awards Are A Shambles

I know nothing about the Lambda Awards. Other than the fact that I was in a book that won a lammy in 2009, the only thing I know about the Lambda Awards is that it is a honor to win a lammy if you're writing something with LGBT content. I was thrilled the book I was in won, and I couldn't have been more pleased for the editor of the anthology, Richard Labonte.

I wasn't going to post anymore this weekend, but when I saw this article I had to put something up for other people who might not have seen it. It's a commentary piece written by author/publisher, Steve Berman. From what I gather, Steve Berman owns Lethe Press, an LGBT press that seems to focus on a variety of different sub-genres. I've never done anything with them, but I did read one book a few years ago and I liked it. They seem to have an artistic quality, and a unique brand.

In the commentary, Berman states:

 As opposed to the vast majority of literary awards, the Lammys are judged in secret — well, they tell you the judges’ names in the program booklet but not who judged which category. Why the velvet curtains? Is it to protect the foundation from scrutiny? Concealing the identities of judges prior to the ceremony and even then not revealing their specific responsibilities is the opposite of transparency.

As I said, I know nothing about how the awards are judged...other than the fact that I don't think they include digital books. The one time I did submit...about three years ago...I had to order the books from Amazon in print, I had to pay the entry fee, and then I had to ship the books to the judges. By the time I was finished I think I wound up paying over one hundred dollars. I even wrote about it here in 2010 and gave reasons why I wasn't submitting anything that year. They may have changed this policy since then. I'm honestly not sure. I haven't looked into, or submitted anything to the Lambda Awards since then. For me it's simply a practical matter of time and money. And, I write (and read) digital books almost exclusively now, proudly.

Berman also says this:

Three of my friends broke their silence regarding their experiences as Lammy judges last year. Each told me disturbing accounts. No overall rules for the judges in every category to follow. Not every judge had to read every nominated book — or even all five finalists. So publishers wasted time and money sending in books that ended up being ignored. Judges treated each other with petulance and no one from the foundation enforced any common sense or responsibility. Now, maybe not every category had such problems, but what I heard coupled with the complete lack of transparency from the foundation has left me with the impression that the Lammys are a shambles. Their original focus, to highlight good queer literature, has been lost to the art of fund-raising. The cost of submitting titles goes up and up. The awards event now puts more emphasis on special guests and late-night parties than on the literature and authors it’s advertised as celebrating.

In any event, I don't have much more to offer because my experiences with the Lambdas are very limited. The few times I was invited to go by Lori Perkins I had other plans and couldn't make it. But I do think Berman's commentary is worth reading in full. It's not every day you see an author and a publisher talk so candidly.






 



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