The Mythogenetic Grove

What’s A John W. Campbell Award and Am I Eligible?

by on Feb.18, 2017, under The Escritoire


I’ve seen some people wondering stuff about John W Campbell award eligibility so I thought I would write this little post about my own eligibility and direct you to links if you are wondering if you could be eligible for the John W Campbell awards also. If I’ve made any mistakes, feel free to let me know, yeah?

So, are you eligible, Nin?

Yes, I am indeed very eligible. Even though I’ve been published prior to 2015 — that was mostly non-fiction and poetry. My one fiction sale in genre was USD5/- (although I will forever adore the people at The Harrow for pulling me out of slush for my first fiction sale). My 2-3 publications in erotica were for free (mostly because I was too scared/shy to submit to paying publicationslor. And now I am too prim and proper for smut. Well err, mostly.)

Firstly, you may be wondering what this Award is about.

They like to call the John W. Campbell the “Not a Hugo” award because it’s kind of an annex to the other Hugo Awards categories and is sponsored by Dell Magazines. It has been the award that’s launched more than one career of SFF luminaries, and is always one of the most exciting categories on the Hugo ballot (even if it’s not a Hugo Award).

Writertopia sez:

The John W. Campbell Award is given to the best new science fiction or fantasy writer whose first work of science fiction or fantasy was published in a professional publication in the previous two years. For the 2017 award, which is presented at the World Science Fiction Convention (WorldCon), the qualifying work must have been published in 2015 or 2016.

So, just so it is clear — to be eligible for the Campbell award, your stories must have been first pro-published in a given year to be eligible for the next two years.

For example, if your story was published in January 2015 in any professional paying publication or with a circulation of AT LEAST 10,000 copies, then you would be eligible to be nominated in 2016 for ALL stories published in 2015, and in 2017 for ALL stories published in 2016.

Another funny thing about this is that your first pro sale may not necessarily be the sale that qualifies you for the Campbell. Here’s a nugget of information from the John W. Campbell Awards eligibility F.A.Q.:

My first publication was in the January, 2016 issue of a qualifying magazine, but the issue hit newstands in December, 2015. When does my eligibility clock start?

In 2016. The cover date of the periodical is what counts for eligibility.

Note: I would strongly encourage anyone voting or intending on declaring themselves eligible to read the eligibility F.A.Q!

For me, my first pro sale may have been Alphabet of Embers (signed contract in December 2014), (and my second pro fiction sale was to Strange Horizons in the middle of 2015) but my first actual pro publication was in Issue #110 of Clarkesworld in November 2015, so my Campbell clock started ticking from then, as Alphabet of Embers only came out around May-July in 2016.

Another thing to pay attention to is that because of the new rules, the clock does not only start ticking from your first SFWA-listed pro sale, but ANY sale that meets the criteria, apart from the copy print run. Since this is a change from the previous years (I think!), I thought it would be important to draw people’s attention to this:

Publications which have a nominal pay rate, particularly those designated by the award sponsor (Dell Magazines).
Nominal is defined by SFWA membership requirements, currently at 6c/word with a minimum of $50 total.

A published work of fiction of a minimum of 40,000 words either sold to a small press or self-published for which the author can demonstrate net income of at least $3,000 within one year. Income can be in the form of advance, royalties, or some combination thereof.

So if you’ve made a fiction sale of at least 6 cents a word but it’s not SFWA-listed, it still counts as eligibility. If you’ve sold something or had an anthology that had an over 10,000 copy print run, you’re already eligible. If this happened in 2014 or 2013, this means your clock started ticking then, and you’re no longer eligible for 2016/2017.

It is unfortunate, but my advice is to find out now rather than later to avoid disappointment.

This is partially why I am writing this, not quite for myself, but for people outside of the known SFF circles who may not be aware of these criteria. Here, the link again for your further edification.

I’d also like to point you in the direction of Kate Heartfield’s lovely blog post on the value of being eligible for the John W. Campbell award.

I’ve finished my period of candidacy/eligibility for it and this is my last year to be nominated. Although I do not think I have enough amplitude to be nominated, I have had enough notice (I made it to the Locus Poll & Survey Ballot, omg!) that I have found it to be an extremely valuable period for my personal growth as an author, and I will be forever proud to be in the same cohort as so many magnificent up-and-coming writers.

Good luck to everyone eligible for this year, and in the coming years. You’ll be joining a group of fantastic writers!

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