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Newsletter Reader Says I should research and verify OR How this of forum makes you tough


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The latest newsletter I emailed this week, performed relatively well, a better than 25% open rate, good engagement across the items listed, new paid subscribers, and a number of emails thanking me — especially for introducing people to the writer N.K. Jemisin; which I've excerpted below.


This morning I received the following email:

I hope all is well. If I am not mistaken...Octavia Butler has won the Hugo Award several times. You mentioned Jemison is the first black writer to win this award. You should do some research to verify this information. 
Thank you,


While I'm far from perfect this email irked me mainly because the women started out ny suggesting that she might be wrong, but then strongly implied that I was wrong and proceeded to chastise me for failing to research and verify information.


Usually if someone is sincerely trying to help; they point or the error and provide the correction, "Hey Troy Butler actually won the best novel award in 1986." When that happens I correct the error, apologize, and offer to send them a free book.


After years of dealing with trolls, ignorant people, and just plain hater I've learned to either take the high road or not engage at all.  This time I replied as if the comment came from @Delano or @Pioneer1 and they caught me in a bad mood 😉


Of course if the person read or at least understood what I wrote they would see that I did not I write Jemisin is the only Black writer win a Hugo Award.  Hugo's are bestowed in several categories. 


Jemisin is in fact the only writer to win the Best Novel Hugo in three consecutive years. Indeed, she is the only Black writer to win the award period (as far as I know). 


I also saw (but did not read) a number of articles speaking to the controversy surrounding the Hugo Awards particularly as it related to given the Best Novel award to writers of color.  Jemisin winning the award three years straight apparently ruffled the feathers of white male scientific fiction writers (yawn, no surprise there).


Still giving the top honor to one writer — any writer three years running speaks volumes about that writers work. This is why I led withJemison'ss accomplishments, because those three books must be really very good!


*Please note this mentioning Jemison was neither acknowledged by the publisher or the author.  Everything in the newsletter is editorial. There is no paid placement.  The only exception might be a banner at the top of the page, but that is clearly indicated and not in every newsletter.


Octavia Butler did win two Hugo Awards including a win for best Short Story (1984) and Best Novelette (Bloodchild, 1985).  Samuel Delany was nominated numerous times and won twice (but not for Best Novel), Nalo Hopkinson was nominated for Best Novel, Nnedi Okorafor was nominated a couple of times and won Best Novella for Binti (book #1 in a trilogy) and an AALBC bestseller.  There are only Black nominees and winners in a variety of categories since the award was launched in 1953.  Jemisin accomplishments stands out. 



Recommended Reads

N. K. Jemisin the Only Writer to Win the Best Novel Hugo Award in three Consecutive YearsN. K. Jemisin the Only Writer to Win the Best Novel Hugo Award in three Consecutive Years


The Hugo Awards are generally considered the highest honors bestowed in science fiction and fantasy writing. The Best Novel Hugo Award is considered the most prestigious of all the award categories. Previous winners of the Best Novel Hugo Award winners have included Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke.


In 2016, Jemisin became the first Black writer to win the Best Novel Hugo for The Fifth Season. She would go on the win again in 2017 and 2018 with The Obelisk Gate and The Stone Sky, respectively. These novels make up the post-apocalyptic and highly acclaimed New York Times bestselling Broken Earth trilogy.

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@Mel Hopkins I actually ran a few queries on my site and came up with a few other authors who won the award. I just updated my post. 


I can certainly understand why you are not a huge fan of awards.  I have strong concerns about them as well.  Most are political (the Hugos are no exception). The selection process are usually biased, for a variety of reasons, usually having nothing to do with the quality of the work.  Obviously they do little to celebrate deserving Black authors. I could of course go on and on.  


Ignoring all of the problems, I think Jemisin winning three years in a row is a big deal.  If the Hugo selection committee wanted to make up for freezing out Black people; one award would have sufficed,  Two awards would be enough to make a clear statement that the were trying to correct past slights,  but three award for Best Novel, by the same writer, three years in a row, tells me these books must be excellent.  Book #1 is on my list of books to read.

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I find ignorance more annoying. I also thought that there must have been previous winners. Samuel Delaney is a brilliant thinker. I saw him speak once maybe twice. His partner was a homeless book seller in my neighbourhood. 

I would recommend the Samuel Delaney essays ir conversations. Okus Avant Pop Fiction although it is probably out of print. 

2 hours ago, Troy said:

This time I replied as if the comment came from @Delano or @Pioneer1 and they caught me in a bad mood 😉

What does that mean? 

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@Delano sorry, that means that I replied with a bit more sarcasm and condescension than I normally would have 🙂


I actually don't mind ignorance --everyone is ignorant about something. What irked me was the feigned humility coupled with the insult.  The person was more interested in  pointing out a perceived mistake rather than actually helping.  I get enough emailed regarding the website and newsletter to know the difference between the two.

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