It’s award season again! Wait, didn’t I write a post that started out that way like, last week or something?
Well, yes I did write that post, but it wasn’t last week, it was over 6 months ago, and can be found here. I do recommend (re-)reading it, because I’ve been reading like a hurricane this year, and I still am nowhere near up to snuff on the eligible work. So, I’ll wait while you go salve that guilty anguish for not reading All The Things.
Done? Okay. So, here’s the spiel: Awards are great. They make the authors, editors and publishers feel Really Awesome about all that hard work they did. They are a way to recognize powerful, influential works of speculative fiction. They can help drive sales.
But awards are kind of like voting for political candidates: the person who had the best publicity has the best chance of winning any public-opinion vote. The voter might not have much choice in a juried award. The book you will swear up and down is The Best Book Ever might not even make it onto the ballot. And, if you are anything like me, you get your ballot all filled out, sent in and written off, and the moment the ‘undo’ function (you do have that enabled, right?) disappears from Gmail’s screen, you remember the five books you should have nominated/voted for.
In short, awards can be a little frustrating. It’s tempting to think that your vote doesn’t count, that popular opinion will always win out over taste, whatever. After all, Twilight, right?
However, to drag out an old, half-dead horse: every vote counts. Seriously. Even if you aren’t sure if you’ve made the right choices. Even if your choices don’t so much as make the ballot.
It’s even more fun as an author, editor or publisher. Each award has specific rules for submissions, nominations and eligibility. Where possible, I note this in the listings, but be sure to read the guidelines for yourself. Always make sure you have the rights to post or submit a piece, and if you aren’t sure, check with your agent, publisher or editor.
I also recommend that professionals figure out what work is eligible for what awards, and post a list to their personal blog. Link this on social media a couple of times. Don’t push it in people’s faces, but let us know. It can be a little awkward, tooting your own horn like that, but it really helps those of us who are trying to remember who has eligible stuff. I also recommend pinning this post to the top of your site or blog, if possible, so that it is immediately accessible for anyone who has 20 minutes left before ballot deadline. Not that any of us would cut it so close, of course…
But, yeah. It isn’t as easy as walking to your local polling place. There are a lot of choices, a lot of rules, a lot of processes. What’s a reader/writer/editor to do?
While there are too many awards to look at all of them, here are some things to know about the major SF ones:
Definition: Best science-fiction of the year
Who decides: Members of WorldCon, somewhere around 5000 people.
Categories: Fiction, screenplays, art, professional
Eligibility: Anything published/produced in previous calendar year. Check website for details.
Nominations: WorldCon members. A low-cost voting membership can be purchased.
Voting: WorldCon members.
Deadlines: Membership must be purchased by Jan. 31
Notes: Presented at this year’s WorldCon. Electronic voting packets of short-listed material are sent out once short-list is decided.
John Campbell Award for Best New Writer
Definition: Any author whose work has first appeared professionally in the last 2 calendar years.
Notes: It is not a Hugo category, but is lumped with it for voting and presentation purposes.
World Fantasy Award
Definition: The best fantasy of the year
Who decides: Special jury
Categories: Fiction, art, editorial, professional
Eligibility: Fantasy published in previous year by living people
Nominations: Members of current/last World Fantasy Convention can nominate.
Voting: Juried. No open vote.
Restrictions: Nominations must be for living people. No zombies!
Notes: Presented at this year’s World Fantasy Convention
Definition: Best speculative fiction of the year
Who decides: SFWA members
Categories: Fiction, screenplays, professional, YA
Eligibility: All SF published in the previous year, regardless of SFWA eligibility
Nominations: SFWA Active and Associate members
Voting: SFWA Active and Associate members
Deadlines: Nominations close Feb. 15
Restrictions: Anyone can be nominated, but only SFWA members may vote.
Notes: The Nebulas are presented at the Nebula Awards weekend, which anyone may attend, SFWA member or not. Workshops, panels and special activities are run by SFWA for anyone interested in attending.
Additionally, SFWA has a forum where eligible works may be posted. Check the link for rules.
Definition: Best LGBTQ fiction of the previous year
Who decides: Jury
Categories: 22 categories. Please check website!
Eligibility: All published LGBTQ works of previous year. Self-published work also accepted.
Nominations: Authors/publishers must submit their work for consideration
Deadlines: Submissions open Sep. 1-December 1.
Restrictions: Must have physical printing. Work published only in digital format not accepted.
Notes: Sorry, I’m a little behind on this one. Remember it for next year!
Carl Brandon Parallax Award
Definition: SF created by self-identified person of color
Carl Brandon Kindred Award
Definition: SF dealing with race or ethnicity by author of any racial or ethnic group
Who decides: Jury
Nominations: There is a nomination form on the website.
Deadlines: Nominate by Feb. 29
Notes: Two separate awards administrated by same group.
James Tiptree, Jr. Award
Definition: SF exploring and expanding gender roles
Who decides: Jury
Nominations: Form can be found website
Deadlines: December 1
Notes: Sorry again, guys…
Bram Stoker Awards
Definition: Superior achievement in horror
Who decides: Members of the Horror Writer’s Association
Eligibility: Any work of horror first published in English in the previous year.
Nominations: HWA members and jury.
Voting: HWA Active members
Notes: Here, have the link to the Etiquette of submitting your work: Etiquette
Shirley Jackson Award
Definition: Outstanding achievement in the literature of psychological suspense, horror and the dark fantastic.
Who decides: Jury
Categories: Fiction, Collection and Anthology
Nominations: Only publishers may nominate
Note: “Fiction” denotes range from short story to novella. Check specific sites for details.
So, go forth and make thine voices heard!