In just a few days, the honorees and winners of YALSA’s literature awards will be announced–an event eagerly anticipated by librarians and readers, and surely eagerly anticipated by the authors and illustrators who may be honored. This year is just the fourth time the William C. Morris Award will be announced. Unlike most of the other awards, this one is not only announced at the ALA Midwinter Meeting, it also has its celebratory event at that same meeting. Attendees at this year’s event will be able to hear just one of the Morris finalists, Guadalupe Garcia McCall, speak. At least two of the other finalists will be sending video presentations. While that is bound to be a wonderful experience, it certainly is a shame that more of the Morris finalists will not be present to speak. I’ve been thinking a lot about this young award and the trouble it has had getting its celebration off the ground.
Members and conference attendees have provided feedback that they definitely want an event which recognizes the honorees. They are eager to hear and see and meet these authors! Yet publishers, who are often present at various events and bring authors to conferences, have flat out said they will not bring their new authors to this.
I’ve tried to understand why publishers would not make a point of sending their honored authors to the event. I suppose you could say that a publisher, who has no say in the creation or administration of an award, would not want to be beholden to the award, its administrators, and its events. It is certainly true that they are not obligated, nor does an association have any say in how they spend their dollars or which authors they should promote. However, I do think that it must be a feather in their cap to have identified the few, out of oh-so-many aspiring authors, who are so talented as to have been awarded a debut author award.