Monday 27 November 2023

Goodreads Choice Awards - Best Fantasy 2023

THE BOOK THAT WOULDN'T BURN got selected for the Goodreads Choice Awards nominee list, of 20 titles vying for Best Fantasy of 2023.

This happened to my first dozen or so books, with a bunch of them making the finals (I think King of Thorns came 4th!), but it hasn't happened for a while, and the merging of the fantasy catagory with paranormal romance buried the chances of making the list for a lot of epic fantasy since romance is so popular.

(For the record my books have been in the Goodreads Choice Award category for Best Fantasy eleven times, once in the Best Science Fiction category, for One Word Kill, and miraculously I was even in as an artist! That was for Wheelmouse And All The Crazy Robots which I did with Cely and was included in the award's Best Picturebook category.)

Anyway, don't be mistaken: this is entirely a popularity contest.

I'm posting this late since the first round of voting has just finished, and I very much doubt I'll make the final ten.

This year there's a new catagory called Romantasy, that has sucked out a lot of the super popular romance fantasies from the Fantasy catagory and this (plus the success of TBTWB) has allowed me to sneak back onto the list.

Here are some of the nominees.

The reason I make a song and dance about the vote is that it's a great marketing opportunity, and when you write for a living, such chances are not to sniffed at.

Look at the impact of the contest on the "to read" stats of TBTWB!

I say this is a popularity contest because it's the simple truth. Very few readers will have read more than a handful of the 20 nominees. I suspect most will have read 0 or 1.

Thus people are going to vote primarily for the book they read, rather than compare across the field and vote for the one they thought was best.

Votes will be tightly correlated with number of readers, which in turn is tightly correlated with number of Goodreads ratings.

Below, I've plotted "number of goodreads ratings" for the 20 titles, and indicated TBTWB with an arrow. As you can see, it's one of the least read titles, and as such has almost no chance of making the final ten.

However, if it did, that would be big boost in visibility, and thus it's well worth motivating my readership to vote for the book.

Additionally, every vote appears in that reader's friends' timestreams on Goodreads and advertises to them the fact that their friend really liked the book. And that helps win me more readers.

So it's all good!

Technical aside: 

A final note on selection. It's a numerical thing, not a value judgement. Goodreads runs an algorithm that looks at 'number of ratings', 'number of "to reads", and average rating. It also applies a heavy weighting towards book 1s.

The weighting for "average rating" can't be linear since this year Godkiller didn't make the list despite having more ratings than TBTWB (~10k vs ~8k) and similar "to read" / "added" numbers. The difference in average rating can't account for the selection in a linear mannner, so clearly having a lower average hurts quite a bit.

So, that's it! Many thanks for reading the book, and for voting for it, if you did.

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  1. Yes, indeed! I vote on the GR yearly lists, and most of the time I haven't read more than 2 books on the finalists' list. Interesting that the GR algo is heavily weighted towards first books in a series.

    1. The first book weighting makes sense - it's the gateway into something new for readers. Plus it reduces the degree to which the top 20 (then 10) are saturated by books 2,3,4 etc, which obviously outnumber book 1s.

  2. I did not see your book on the Finalists list, so I assumed you had already been voted off, but then when they showed the winners, you were listed as a finalist. That feels hinky to me...

    1. The top 10 books go into a second round of voting (adding to their round 1 votes). After completion all 20 books are listed with their total vote. You'll see a step change in vote totals at book 10 where the 2 vs 1 round thing happens.