The Rontgen Award for Unwritten Literature

Update 16 Dec 2013: The Rontgen Award site is now archived here.

I’ve wanted to build this site for years. Well, the site’s just a vehicle: I’ve wanted to organise this award for years. I used to be a book publisher, and it was there that I developed this particular belief: the decision not to write a book can be as valuable and important as the decision to write it. Seriously, writing a book that shouldn’t be written is a monumental waste of human resources. And every day, such books get written, and have to be mailed, and have to be opened, and even read, and turned down, and then mailed elsewhere, and so on. It’s awful. And all those good people who put that energy into something else go unnoticed. No more! Now there’s an award for not writing that book.

The tone is tongue-in-cheek, and some of the intent. But at its core, this really is an important award. People who don’t overshare are lovely, valuable souls who deserve our praise. Like Wilhelm Rontgen himself, after whom the award is named. You can read more on the site about why the award’s named after him.

Tools used: WordPress CMS with the Professional theme by Elegant Themes. I’ve used Formidable Forms for the entry form, and a simple PayPal button for entry fee payments. I did the logo with The GIMP.

Process: I built the site on my own machine first, wrote all the text, bugged Michelle to read and comment on it (really just to say how wonderful it was, which she dutifully did), then transferred the files onto my webhost’s servers after registering the domain. I spent a lot of wasted time trying to find the most efficient, water-tight way to take people’s money for the entry fee. Using the limited time, plugins and code abilities at my disposal, I could either make things easy for me or easy for users. I chose easy for users – I’ll have to sit and reconcile payments with entries by hand, and copy and paste text from entries that come in by email, rather than going straight into a database. If I get loads of entries, I may have to spend money on commercial WordPress plugins that will beef up the backend and save me admin time. Ah, I also set up a Twitter account for the award. I’m going to need that to keep the promotional social conversation going.