The Astounding Award for Best New Writer 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 2020 award, which is presented at the World Science Fiction Convention (WorldCon), the qualifying work must have been published in 2018 or 2019.

There can be confusion over the term “professional publication” since the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), the World Science Fiction Society (WSFS), and the award sponsor define it differently. For the purposes of the Award, professional publications are works sold for more than a nominal amount and published anywhere in the world.

Please refer to the Eligibility F.A.Q. for an explanation of qualifying publications and answers to common questions.

The Astounding Award is administered by the Worldcon, but the rules are determined by the award sponsor, Dell Magazine. Eligibility rules were changed in 2005 and the name of the award was changed in 2019.

Voting Procedure

The Astounding Award uses the same nomination and voting mechanism as the Hugo, even though the Astounding Award is not a Hugo.

Like the Hugo Awards, the Astounding Award voting takes place in two stages. The first stage, nomination, is open to anyone who had a Supporting or Attending membership in the previous, current, or following year's Worldcon as of January 31. For 2020, this means members of Dublin 2019, Worldcon 78 (CoNZealand), or Worldcon 79 can nominate any eligible author. This web page helps identify eligible authors for the Astounding Award.

Nominations are now open on the CoNZealand Hugo area. All nomination ballots must be received by March 13, 2020 at 11:59 pm Pacific Daylight Time.

FAQ on Astounding Award Eligibility

Who is eligible for the 2020 Astounding Award?

Writers with a qualifying professional work published in 2018 or 2019. Eligibility does not reset with pseudonyms. Each writer has a two year eligibility window after publishing a qualifying work.

What counts as a qualifying professional work?

Any work of fiction in the science fiction or fantasy genres (SF/F) sold for a nominal amount and published in a qualifying publication.

Which publications qualify?

Any publication meeting one of the following criteria:

  • Copy print run of at least 10,000
  • Qualifying publication by SFWA (see the list)
  • 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.

What does not count as a qualifying work?

  • works in non-qualifying publications
  • poetry, even if it is SF/F and appears in a qualifying publication
  • non-fiction, even if it is SF/F and appears in a qualifying publication
  • fiction outside the SF/F genres
  • fan writing of any sort
  • letters to the editor
  • vanity press or self-published fiction for which the author is not paid, even if the print run is over 10,000
  • writing for SF/F games

Do Horror publications count for eligibility?

Supernatural horror or horror with fantasy or science fiction elements counts for eligibility. Horror without fantastical elements does not.

Does my eligibility clock start when the publication is available?

The cover date of the periodical is what counts for eligibility. So if your first publication was in the January 2020 issue of a qualifying magazine, but the issue hit newstands in December 2019, your clock starts in 2020.

I sold a serial novel to a qualifying SF magazine. Does this count for eligibility? If so, when does the eligibility begin?

A serial novel counts for eligibility with a minimum payment of $1600. Eligibility begins when the last installment of the novel is published, in keeping with the Hugo rules (3.2.6: …a work appearing in a number of parts shall be eligible for the year of the final part.)

Has my eligibility clock started if I co-wrote a story that appeared in a qualifying magazine?

Yes. The story begins the eligibility clock for all contributing (and not previously eligible) authors.

When does my eligibility start if my book is a print on demand? Is it the day it sells enough copies or the day it was first published?

The day it sells enough copies. All eligibility criteria must be met before the eligibility clock starts.

I wrote a short story that appeared in our large-circulation daily newspaper. Am I eligible?

If the print run was over 10,000, you were paid more than a nominal amount for your work, and the story was in the SF/F genre, then you are eligible.

If I wrote under a pen-name, can I still be eligible under my own name?


I'm still confused about my eligibility. What should I do?

Send an e-mail to one of the moderators with the details of your situation. Ultimately, the Hugo Administrators have final say on any question of eligibility.

Contact Us

We are currently updating the site for the 2020 Award season. 2020 eligible authors should contact us for inclusion in the list with (1) information about the work that first satisfied an eligibility criterion (see Eligibility F.A.Q.), (2) the web page you'd like linked to your name, and (3) a statement that you had no prior sales that met eligibility. A moderator can help you determine your eligibility if you are stumped.

Corrections and additions to the eligibility list can be sent to a moderator.

contact a moderator