Aside from hoping for bestselling numbers upon a book’s release (which can be a fickle and skewed result according to this article that details things like book laundering and bulk purchases affecting numbers), there are many awards and distinctions that genre authors can strive for to validate their success when publishing their work. The definition of science fiction/fantasy writing is a book material that includes imagined elements—including but not limited to high fantasy, urban fantasy, steampunk, slipstream, magical realism, dieselpunk and all other forms of speculative fiction.
There are several contests, prizes, and accolades afforded to authors who write in these genres and subgenres, with several exciting factors about one’s eligibility for these distinctions:
1) You do not have to have written a full-length novel to be eligible for some of these awards. Also, short stories and novellas will be considered for these.
2) You do not have to be a New York Times or Wall Street Journal bestselling author to be eligible for these awards. However, many of the authors’ works that win are.
There is a caveat to these genre awards though; self-published fiction does not always get considered for some of these contests. There is, though, a “loophole” of sorts if you’re an author who isn’t represented by an agent or publisher. If you manage to sell a piece of short fiction to well-known magazines like Strange Horizons, Clarkesworld, etc. (find a comprehensive list of magazines to submit to in our archives), they can submit your story for potential selection of these awards. Below is a list of some of the most popular awards to submit to for science fiction and fantasy.
Accolades and Awards for Authors in Sci-Fi/Fantasy
1. Nebula Awards:
Active members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) will present and vote on these annual awards.
Nebula Awards categories include:
- Short story: which is less than 7,500 words.
- Novelette: which is between 7,500 words and 17,500 words.
- Novella: which is between 17,500 words and 40,000 words.
- Novel: which is 40,000 words or more.
Find the rules for submission and eligibility here. The Nebula Awards do accept self-published fiction submissions.
2. Hugo Awards:
These awards focus on science fiction and fantasy works, with fifteen categories that members of Worldcon can vote on for consideration the following year. Neither authors, agents or publishers can submit their works to these awards. There is no submission process, and the popular vote will choose the winners.
Here you can find general information about the Hugo Awards. Also, you will find information about Dell’s John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, which is presented yearly at the Hugo Awards.
3. The Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award:
Established in 1987, this award is for outstanding science fiction short stories. With the nominations comprising of stories bought and printed by science fiction magazines such as Asimov’s, Uncanny, Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons, tor.com and more. Editors of these magazines submit their nominations. After, they are shortlisted before a winner is chosen for that year and announced at the Campbell Conference Awards Banquet. Find more information here.