As you know, or as I hope you know, The Sorcerers Guild exists to determine the yearly winner of The Harper's Pen Award. The award is meant to promote the Sword & Sorcery genre in short fiction. For the first year, I selected the finalists and chose the winner, to help get things started and because I wasn't sure how I wanted to get things started, but my plan is to get more people involved, especially readers and fans, not just writers and editors.
So what I have is a brief outline of the organization and how I expect it to work. This is a rough draft, so if you have other ideas, especially better ideas, please feel free to discuss.
Each December, the nomination period opens. Only members of The Sorcerers Guild may nominate a story, but anyone can join. By joining this facebook group, you are already a member. Members will receive a certain number of nominations - I'm thinking 3 or 5. Those stories that meet a minimum threshold of nominations (to be determined) go onto a Long List.
Now for the fun part. Each year, I will provide a certain amount of seed money. For 2009, I hoped to get contributions to help increase the pot, but I only received one contribution of $10 for the entire year. Clearly we cannot rely on contributions, so I came up with the idea of a second level of membership, called The Wizard's Conclave. Membership in The Wizard's Conclave costs $5 (open for debate), in return for which you get to chose a certain number of stories from the long list (say, 3) to make the short list. Also, there may be goodies in association with joining during one of the membership drives. I plan to hit up publishers for promo copies of their magazines/anthologies to give to those who join The Wizard's Conclave. If you know anyone, or have something to donate, please feel free to contact me.
So now we have the Wizard's Conclave, and the $5 membership fee goes directly into the Award. The Wizard's Conclave chooses the short list of stories from which the finalists and winner will be selected by...
The Council of Elders. The Council consists of a certain number (to be determined) of randomly-chosen members of The Wizards Conclave. Council members are screened to prevent anyone with a short list story (either author or publisher) from serving on the Council. (This has the added benefit of tilting the Council toward the fans.) The Council members choose their top ten stories for the year, with the top story being the winner of The Harper's Pen. Or perhaps a winner and a several honorable mentions, rather than a top ten.
What do you think? Will it work? Would you pay $5 to join, especially if you got a free book or magazine out of it? Please feel free to post your ideas.
(This is cross-posted at The Sorcerers Guild discussion board on Facebook. Please feel free to pop over and join the discussion, or to leave comments here.)