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Year-End Short Speculative Fiction Roundup: An Overview of Awards Eligibility Season

Lyndsie Manusos

Senior Contributor

Lyndsie Manusos’s fiction has appeared in PANK, SmokeLong Quarterly, and other publications. She holds an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and has worked in web production and content management. When she’s not nesting among her books and rough drafts, she’s chasing the baby while the dog watches in confused amusement. She lives with her family in a suburb of Indianapolis.

If you follow the science fiction and fantasy community on Twitter, Mastodon, Hive, Post — how many are there now? — or any other social media platform, you may have noticed recent threads where authors list their “awards eligible” work that published or has yet to be published in 2022. You may have also noticed many literary magazines posting nominees on their social media platforms, from Pushcart nominations to Best Microfiction and Best of the Net anthologies. I’ve written about some of these anthologies in the past.

In late fall, usually sometime in November, writers and literary magazines begin to post these awards eligible works and award nominations. This kickstarts the award season for much of the literary and science fiction and fantasy (SFF) community, especially in regards to short fiction.

But what does all this mean for you? Allow me to shed some light on this annual tradition. 

This post will focus mostly on the SFF community, but I will touch on literary fiction and horror, as those are both communities and genres that have their own awards. It’s also important to note that there is overlap, which is amazing. Many talented writers produce brilliant work across genres, and they’ll post their eligibility for the Nebula or Stoker awards while also being nominated for Pushcarts, which is more of a literary prize. Yes, that’s how badass they are. As I’ve said in previous posts when it comes to genre: The limits do not exist!

Awards Eligibility: What Is It?

Let’s kick it off by laying some groundwork. What is an awards eligibility thread? What are all these short fiction roundups, recommended reading lists, and longlists for?

To quote the talented writer and reviewer Maria Haskins, “an eligibility post is a list of the work you had published in the current year.” While some may only post works that are SFWA-qualifying or pro-paying, Haskins is correct in that all work published is valid. Own your work, writers!

These award eligibility posts are looking ahead to next year. So the threads and posts you see now are for awards announced in 2023. Many magazines, like Uncanny, will post all their eligible work for the year. Notable and emerging authors alike will thread the short stories, novelettes, novellas, and/or novels they published, many of them also putting this list in an easy-to-find blog post on their author website or Patreon.

I had the pleasure of interviewing A.C. Wise, renown short fiction writer and author of the novels Wendy, Darling and Hooked, about awards eligibility season. Wise is one of a handful of people who annually compiles a big list of authors and their awards eligibility posts, in addition to their own eligible work.

“Year-end roundups and award eligibility posts are a wonderful way for authors to share what they’ve published, and an excellent way for readers (and particularly folks who participate in award nominations) to catch up on what they might have missed,” Wise said. “It’s also a nice way for authors to reflect on what they’ve accomplished in a given year.”

Not only writers do post award-eligible work — so do fan-writers, artists, podcasters, game writers and designers, and genre journalists. In SFF, these are all categories that can be considered for awards such as the Nebulas, Hugos, Ignyte awards, and more.

There are pros and cons to posting/tweeting eligibility work and nominations in November, though. One con is that the attention given to these eligible posts neglect issues and work published in late November and early December. So keep reading those end-of-year issues and books published in November and December!

Where to Find and Read Awards Eligible Work

It’s easy to get buried amidst all the 2022 released work, and short fiction, especially, is easy to overlook. For all the novels published in 2022, there are multitudes more novellas, novelettes, and short fiction published in magazines, from indie to pro-paying.

“Indeed, it’s easy for short fiction to get overlooked, even though there’s so much amazing short fiction out there,” Wise said. “Eligibility threads counterbalance that somewhat. I would also encourage anyone and everyone to share the short fiction they enjoy, either throughout the year, or at the end of the year. Word of mouth is one of the best ways for folks to discover new-to-them stories and authors.”

When it comes to short fiction shared and enjoyed throughout the year, there are a few publications, blogs, and review sites where one can begin finding awards-eligible work.

Short Fiction Reviews

cover image of Locus Magazine's November 2022 issue cover

Locus Magazine’s Short Fiction Reviews by Charles Payseur, Paula Guran, Karen Burnham, and More

Locus Magazine is the preeminent magazine for SFFH reviews, from short fiction to novels. If your work is well-reviewed and recommended in Locus, that’s a big feather in your cap. Alex Brown, Charles Payseur, Paula Guran, and Karen Burnham comb through hundreds of stories each month across the broad spectrum of speculative literary magazines. This is another way for readers to discover stories and find awards-eligible work. At the end of each year, Locus also puts out an annual recommended reading list, and readers can vote on finalists for the Locus Awards. Locus is a pillar in the SFFH community, and you can support the publication by visiting its Indiegogo campaign.

Tor.com’s Short Fiction Spotlight by Alex Brown

Alex Brown publishes their must-read speculative short fiction roundup each month, sharing a list of stories after reading across a wide variety of speculative magazines. These roundups are hugely important to the community, and each monthly roundup brings excitement and social media traction for the writers included. You can always count on Alex to find brilliant jewels of the short form.

You can read Alex’s October 2022 roundup here.

Author Site Compilations

Round-up of Awards Posts by F&SF Writers, Editors, and Publishers for 2022 by Cat Rambo

Likewise, Nebula-award winning writer Cat Rambo is a force for good and compiles links to awards-eligible threads and blog posts on their website. They announced they”ll be busy in November when compiling usually begins, but still included a post where writers and readers can comment on the post with links to threads and blog posts. Don’t forget to scroll down when you check the page!

Awards Eligibility 2022 by A.C. Wise

I included the link further above in this article, but I think it will also be helpful to list it here as well. Wise has compiled eligibility posts for writers for a few years now, and the list has grown to become a community-involved effort, which is lovely to behold. Wise will announce on Twitter when she’s updated the list, which authors can then share if their name is on it. Each update announcement is also a reminder for authors who have yet to share their link to post it in the replies. “I love seeing the community of SFFH authors supporting each other this way!” Wise said.

Newsletters & Patreons

Another great way to to discover new stories is to subscribe to your favorite writers’ newsletters and read about them gushing over the work they discover. This is the word of mouth magic that Wise mentioned. There are a bazillion newsletters out there, far too many to list here, but I’ll include a handful of my personal favorites, which range across genre, from SFF to literary fiction. The key takeaway here is to search for your favorite writers online and see if they have a newsletter or a Patreon you can support. If so, subscribe away.

Keep Reading, Keep Sharing

Finally, with the chaos and uncertainty that’s been Twitter, it does bring into question what might be the best way to share the stories we enjoy, especially in regards to short fiction. Not that Twitter has been perfect by any means, but it has been a mainstay for many genre readers and writers to share work. Wise describes the complications:

“To a degree, Twitter has always felt somewhat ephemeral, and it’s easy to miss posts amidst the sheer volume,” Wise said. “The Twitter algorithm also tends to highlight certain tweets and bury others, so it’s not always ideal for discoverability, or as a lasting source to reference when people are looking for what works are eligible.”

Whether or not you use Twitter, it is important to share the work you enjoy whenever you find it. On any social media platform, or in texts to your family and friends, gush about the stories that inspire you. Because that is how they become more than just eligible work — by sharing, they become beloved. Maybe even nominated.

So, hopefully, with the above lists, you are well-equipped to start your year-end reading journey. If you are eligible to vote in any of the upcoming awards — Nebulas, Hugos, Ignyte, Stokers, etc. — hopefully this will aid in your search to finding great work. Keep reading and sharing, my darlings.