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Awards History
  Or, 22 Reasons Why Your Favorite Book/Author Didn't Win (and Someone Else Did)
  Your Chances
  M/F Distribution
  Who's Refused
  H/N Overlap
  Odd Categories


I'm publishing a science fiction, fantasy, or horror novel/short story this year. What are my chances?

Locus magazine reported in its February 2001 issue that in 2000 there were 1027 new SF, fantasy, or horror books published, of which 568 were novels. Data compiled in this Index indicate that from that year, 137 different novels were nominated for awards. (See Table S3.) Thus, a novel published in 2000 had a remarkable 1 in 4 chance of being nominated for something. (Remember "nomination", in the context of this Index, includes ranking in poll results.)

Winning is harder; 29 novels from 2000 won 36 different awards. Considering the number of different awards for novels, the chances of a published novel winning something was therefore about 1 in 16.

Similarly, there were roughly 1300 stories published in 2000, with 217 different stories nominated for awards 313 times, and 36 different stories winning 40 different awards. A random published story had a 1 in 6 chance of being nominated for something, and a 1 in 36 chance of winning.

To increase your chances, make yourself eligible for as many different awards as possible. You would do best to be a citizen of Australia, Canada, or the UK, and write a Libertarian alternate history romance that blends SF, fantasy, and horror, involves gay characters yet is suitable for children. If a book, publish it in the US as a paperback original; if a story, publish it in a magazine that runs a readers' poll. Paint the cover art or sketch the interior illustration yourself. And whichever it is, it should be your first published work.

Do males have an advantage?

While every award nominee in this Index has not been identified as male or female, enough have that some safe estimations can be made. Thus, approximately 73% of nominees listed in the Literary Nominees Index are male. (By comparison, 85% of the Art Nominees are male.) Apparently, three-quarters of writers who've been nominated for awards are male -- however, of the 137 novels from 2000 that got nominated for awards, 41% were by females, a significant difference. Furthermore, of the 36 awards that went to novels from 2000, 17 of them went to 14 different novels by women -- just under 50%.

2000 was apparently a fluke, however; for 1999, 71% of winning novels were by men. Remarkably, the situation is even worse at short fiction lengths. In 2000, 80% of nominated stories were by men, as were 84% of winning stories.

For all awards in this Index, 71% of novels are by males, and 74% of winning novels are by males. For short fiction, 80% of nominated stories are by males, and 78% of winning stories are by males. Though these differences are within the margin of error (since not all nominees in the Index have been identified as male or female), it appears that women have a slight advantage to win if nominated for short fiction, and a slight disadvantage to win if nominated for a novel.

Has anyone ever refused an award?

It's not uncommon for nominees to decline nominations; such occurrences are not always even publicized. For some awards writers can withdraw a nomination in favor of a later (perhaps more widely available) edition of the work. Writers might withdraw a nomination to avoid self-competition, as when receiving two (or more) nominations in the same category. Occasionally, a nominee who has won an award frequently in the past might withdraw to avoid over-exposure.

Refusals of award wins are relatively rare. Lisa Tuttle declined the Nebula Award for short story in 1982 after protesting a campaign tactic by another nominee. Lester del Rey declined a posthumous Hugo for Judy-Lynn del Rey in 1986 on the grounds that the award was a sympathy vote. And recently Greg Egan declined both the Aurealis and Ditmar awards for his novel Teranesia for reasons not made public.

How much overlap is there between the Hugos and Nebulas?

In recent years there doesn't appear to be much, but this partly because of the protracted Nebula eligiblity period, which causes many nominees and winners on a given year's ballot to be two calendar old years rather than one. But statistics by publication year show the awards have diverged over the decades, though not steadily

Of 190 different novels and stories published 1995 through 1999 inclusive that have appeared on final Hugo or Nebula ballots, 45 were nominated for both. Since there are almost always fewer novel and short fiction nominations on a final Hugo ballot than on a final Nebula ballot, the possible overlap is the Hugo count, for this period 108, so the actual overlap was 42% of the possible.

Of 167 different novels and stories published 1985 through 1989 inclusive that appeared on either final ballot, 68 were on both, which is 65% of the 105 Hugo nominations.

Of 159 different novels and stories published 1975 through 1979 inclusive that appeared on either ballot, 51 were nominated for both, or 52% of the 98 Hugo nominations.

Of 139 different novels and stories published 1966 through 1970 (to exclude the lengthy Nebula list from 1965) that appeared on either final ballot, 57 were same, which is 63% of the 90 Hugo nominations.

Peak overlap years were around 1970 and in the late '80s; for works published in 1985, 1987, 1968, and 1972, 70% or more of the Hugo nominees were also Nebula nominees.

I'm not a writer or an artist, what else can I do to win an award?

Here are some of the more unusual awards categories over the years, many of which do not involve writing or art.

  • People have won awards for organizing awards. In 1984, Stan Gardner won a Balrog Award in the amateur achievement category, "for saving the Balrogs". The Balrogs lasted only one more year.
  • In 1992, Richard Kelly won (tied, actually) for a Chesley in the Contribution to ASFA category, for "financial assistance". In '95, Howard Frank was nominated in the same category for the same reason.
  • In 1988, Rusty Hevelin was a Chesley nominee for "most effective auctioneer" in the Contribution to ASFA category. In '93, two people were nominees for "reorganizing and updating the ASFA database"
  • ASFA presented its Contribution to ASFA award in 1999 to Jeff Watson, for creating and maintaining the ASFA website. He was nominated again the next two years.
  • The Auroras several times have nominated people, in the Organizational Fan Achievement category, for hosting suites at conventions.
  • Postage stamps have been nominated for art awards, for the Ditmar in 2001, and the Hugo in 1994. And Stephen Hickman won the Hugo.
  • The first Locus poll had categories for Single Fanzine Issue, and for Fan Critic; the second year's poll had a category for Best Convention. From '74 through '77 there was a category for Best Critic.
  • Later the Science Fiction Chronicle poll had a category for Best Convention of 1981; another time, for Best Regional Convention.
  • The Balrog Awards included a category for best poet.
  • The Hugo Awards had varying categories in its early years, including (each for only a single year) #1 Fan Personality (Forry Ackerman won), book reviewer, excellence in fact articles, feature writer, and American Magazine and British Magazine
  • Both major horror awards, the Bram Stoker and the International Horror Guild, have categories for comics or graphic novels.
  • The Bram Stoker Awards recently added categories for 'work for younger readers' and 'poetry collection'
  • The Aurora Awards have included nominations, in the Fan Achievement categories, for organizing conventions, and for bidding future conventions (e.g. Toronto in 2003).
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