About Tor.com & Fanwriting

That Beam piece has certainly got people talking about the Hugo Fan Writer category, which is a positive development. I’ve been musing here about the nature of the category for some time and I’d like to focus on something which I think might help clarify an issue.

Firstly though, I don’t want anybody to infer from this post that I think any current finalists or past finalists were illegitimate because of where some of their work was posted. That is not the case as far as I’m concerned. On the other hand that doesn’t mean we can’t think about how the category should be in the future and what rule change may help facilitate that.

Secondly, this is not intended to be a case of Tor-bashing. Non-fiction essays at Tor.com are the example that people keep discussing, so it would be disingenuous not to talk about Tor. However, I must add that I like what Tor.com is doing as a site and also it is doing good work in terms of promoting a diverse range of views and voices.

Last year I wrote about how I wouldn’t want to see a kind of strictly amateur rule applied to fan writing. The simplest way of delimiting the boundary between professional and fan writing would be simply to apply a rule that if the writer is paid then it doesn’t count. I think the negative consequences of such a rule these days would hurt the category more than help. I’m a cis-het financially stable man with a long commute each day and access to cheap portable internet: writing this blog is a hobby that I can indulge in because of social and economic advantages that I have. Patreons etc are ways that help enable not just others like myself but also a broader range of voices to engage with fandom and cover the costs of doing so.

Having said all that…the current rules don’t adequately distinguish between commercial venues for writing and non-commercial ones. The distinction in the rules is focused on availability to readers, which made sense in a world of fanzines, semi-prozines and professional magazines. It doesn’t make sense in a world where there are major publications that are free at source.

Put another way: technically Damien Walter’s former columns in The Guardian on science-fiction related issues would technically be eligible for Best Fan Writer but are not something that people would really think of as being specifically FAN writing even though any specific piece fits the general model of fan writing in terms of content.

So is there a way we can make a distinction between Tor.com or say Barnes & Noble blog or similar commercial venues that publish non-fiction essays that otherwise might be seen as fan-writing?

I’d contend that it isn’t any of the following:

  • Payments to the writer
  • Costs to the consumer (I.e. that it is free to read doesn’t make it fannish anymore than an essay behind a Patreon pay-wall makes the essay non-fannish)
  • The content of the post (OK in some cases, the content might make a piece none fanwriting but not in general)

So what’s the big critical distinction? EDITORS. Is the content commercially curated? Is somebody paid to pick who and what is being published? That’s the big distinction and it really is what matters.

Again: this is not a dig at Tor.com or anybody writing for them. However, there is a big difference between work that is being put out for its own sake and work being put out as part of a commercial operation in terms of whether it is fan-work or not. The difference isn’t in content but in control, who gets to pick.

To go back to the Damien Walters example (and I’m not trying to pick on him either but he’s a handy example), there’s other ways we could exclude his former Guardian column as an example of fan writing (e.g. The Guardian isn’t a SFF outlet as such) but I think the key element is the control (even if it is light) that the newspaper would have over the column. The same is true of Tor.com or Barnes & Noble. I doubt there is much, if any, interference from higher management in terms of particular essays but it is still curated content with the wider purpose of further the interests of a commercial organisation.

Of course, we can’t avoid commercial organisations in our capitalist world. Pull the camera outwards and I’m beholden to some degree to a commercial organisation (WordPress) to have a blog but otherwise I’m more or less a free agent.

So here is a rule change I’d very tentatively suggest:

3.3.16: Best Fan Writer. Any person whose writing has appeared in semiprozines or fanzines or in generally available electronic media THAT IS NOT PROFESSIONALLY EDITED OR PROFESSIONALLY CURATED during the previous calendar year.

Does that work? Or is it to vague still?


42 thoughts on “About Tor.com & Fanwriting

  1. What work is your proposal doing that isn’t already done by the existing rule?

    3.2.11: A Professional Publication is one which meets at least one of the following two criteria:
    (1) it provided at least a quarter the income of any one person or,
    (2) was owned or published by any entity which provided at least a quarter the income of any of its staff and/or owner.

    You’re analyzing Tor.com but seem to have overlooked that it is the kind of publication defined as professional by (2).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. True and that makes wording a change easier than I’m making it. The current rule doesn’t mention ‘professional’ [
      3.3.16: Best Fan Writer. Any person whose writing has appeared in semiprozines or fanzines or in generally available electronic media during the previous calendar year.] although the first parts I assume were intended to exclude professional publications by omission, the final clause makes Tor.com apparently eligible as a venue.
      The other factor is ‘quarter the income of any one person’. That makes sense in the general sense of a publication as a distinction but somebody with a blog on a Patreon site who is just scraping by generally might fall within that criteria even though they aren’t really a ‘professional publication’. That’s not really an issue with the other categories but I can see how it might impact fan writer.
      Maybe?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree with Cam; it seems to me that the “or in generally available electronic media” has always been an unintentional loophole which allows professional writing to be eligible.

        I also think that semiprozines should be eliminated as an eligible source for Fan Writing. But I think that there’s a proposal to change that category to just “Magazine”, which would take care of that loophole.

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  2. Yes, the rule is badly drafted in many ways, including the one you point out that Best Fan Writer’s phrase “or in generally available electronic media during the previous calendar year” doesn’t seem to have attached to it the same “non-professional” requirements built into the definitions of semiprozines and fanzines.

    However, the cause of that problem is that the drafters of the change in 2011 intended that only magazine format publications would be eligible as fanzines, in which case the electronic availability wouldn’t let in static websites, or possibly even most blogs. On the other hand, the Business Meeting humored the fanzine fans by passing their changes in the knowledge that when it came to enforcement, they’d let in anything — blogs certainly. So the “electronic availability” is now a gaping ambiguity instead of a mere acknowledgement that fanzines could be distributed online, too.

    Another thing I never liked about any of the rules that talk about a fraction of a person’s income is that it’s not a trait which a Hugo administrator can verify externally. So now when contact is made with Hugo nominees the “verification” stage is just a letter that quotes the category definition and leaves it up to the nominee to say whether they’re eligible. And in any event (I say this as an old tax professional) the rule doesn’t even say whether “income” is gross, or net, or what expenses would be netted if any — thank God, I suppose, we really don’t need tax law injected into the Hugo rules.

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  3. Were Dave Langford’s monthly columns in White Dwarf and SFX ever discussed in a similar context when he was winning/being nominated for Fan Writer every year? (As someone who was completely outside of Hugo/written SF fandom until recently, but who has dabbled in RPGs and media SF on and off over the past few decades, I mentally associate him far more with that – presumably – paid for work than stuff like Ansible.)

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  4. “So what’s the big critical distinction? EDITORS. Is the content commercially curated? Is somebody paid to pick who and what is being published? That’s the big distinction and it really is what matters.”

    Naw, that doesn’t work because fanzines have often had editors and fan writers who were edited (and authors as well) were nominated for fan writer from the beginning. The crossovers between fanzines and magazines were continual in post-war SFF, with fanzines turning into magazines and magazines spinning off fanzines. And many of the fan writer nominees were journalists, reviewers and critics as well. That’s before you even get into the maze of electronic publication that developed in the 1990’s with the Internet.

    The Hugos have basically gone with someone writing about SFF and issues within SFF publishing from a fan/analysis perspective, including humorous satire and poetry. And that includes published authors, journalists and fans who are blogging or putting out print fanzines. It’s a deliberately broad category in which WorldCon members can reward a wide range of writers about fandom topics.

    One thing they can do is limit it on size of the audience of the publication venue. If something like Tor.com has X number of subscribers, that could pass a limit as commercial, regardless if the fan writer got paid for the body of work being considered as the fan writing or not. That would mean a very popular fanzine would not be considered for fan writer, a bestselling author who has X number of followers of their blog would not be considered, etc.

    But, after being an opportunity for WorldCon members to celebrate what they value in SFFH (main purpose #1,) and to be value added and promotional for WorldCon (main purpose #2,) the third main purpose of the Hugos is to grow the audience for SFFH, particularly written SFFH, including awareness of authors nominated and winning but not exclusively them. So penalizing venues for being successful at that already might be counter to the supporting goals of having any SFFH awards in the first place.

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    1. Kat Goodwin: fanzines have often had editors and fan writers who were edited (and authors as well) were nominated for fan writer from the beginning

      Yes, but that’s not the same thing as “commercially edited”.

       
      Kat Goodwin: be[ing] value added and promotional for WorldCon (main purpose #2,) the third main purpose of the Hugos is to grow the audience for SFFH

      No, those are not the purposes of the Hugo Awards. They may be some of the side effects. They may be what you would like to be their purposes. But those are not the purposes of the Hugo Awards.

      The Fan categories were created to recognize a very specific type of work — and paid writing is not that type of work.

      Not allowing paid writing to be eligible for the Fan categories is not “penalizing” anyone. It is keeping the category for the purpose that it is intended.

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  5. (various random thoughts)

    I think the comments above have correctly identified that “in generally available electronic media” isn’t doing the job it was perhaps meant to. It’s not really sensible that a review in Lightspeed or Clarkesworld (now pro publications, just to spread the examples away from poor tor.com) published on their website would be “fan writing” but the same review for F&SF only appearing in the purchased magazine would not be, just because one persues a fremium business model and the other sticks to subs-only.

    Ditto that you’re very on point that a column in the Guardian isn’t amateur.

    Random thought, I wonder if one issue here is the changing meaning of “fan”? The screed that kicked this off shows that there was once a narrow meaning of fan which us newfangled don’t entirely subscribe to, and the people who wrote “fan” into the WSFS rules expected their meaning to predominate so that they didn’t need to get into definitions of amateur v pro and so on. The screed-er expected voters to “know” what was meant and was outraged that we weren’t sticking to it.

    I think the way to work out a change is to start by pointing to what you do and don’t want in the category, and then hoping that some clever definition can be written to achieve it.
    So – free blogs written for no money (or with ads that cover hosting) – clearly yes.
    Good quality professional level publications which pay their writers and their editors at good levels – above fan level IMO
    Fan Writer who brings in some cash via patreon, makes nowhere close to a living at it, aka the busking analogy (h/t JJ) – still fan writing IMO
    Articles in semiprozines, written for fairly limited rates that don’t even approach allowing you to make a living as a writer, for editors who need day jobs as well – well, the current rules allow semiprozine work, and I don’t see a reason to change that.
    Articles that you can read for free – not a helpful definition nowadays IMO
    Articles by a writer who makes substantial money from patreon – needs to be fairly balanced with semiprozines and pro publications. if you draw a line by publication type as a proxy for how much you probably get paid then doesn’t it require a line in a similar place for indirect income? Or does just the existence of a Professional Editor for a publication make the difference, as you propose? I think I tend towards the latter at the moment as it’s a line that can be drawn without demanding tax returns, but it’s a question that needs chewing on.

    (This comment may have gone on longer than intended)

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    1. Mark-kitteh; there was once a narrow meaning of fan which us newfangled don’t entirely subscribe to, and the people who wrote “fan” into the WSFS rules expected their meaning to predominate so that they didn’t need to get into definitions of amateur v pro

      The thing is that the Hugo Fan categories have never been about amateur vs. pro. It’s always been about “contributed by fans as a gift to other fans” vs. pro — which is why professional writers winning Fan awards happened a lot, and why that was just fine. Because the work for which those pros were being recognised was actually Fan Writing — contributed for free to other fans — not pro writing which had a target audience of fans, which is something different and is what a number of the people making the long- and shortlists in the Fan Writer category are (unfairly, in my opinion) getting nominated for these days.

      But the people who are newer to Hugo fandom don’t really have a grasp of that form of the word “Fan” in the fan categories. They just think it means the person being recognized needs to be a fan — which, of course, they are, even if their writing is paid and not actually Fan Writing.

      And of course there is some value to fans in that paid writing. But that doesn’t mean it should be eligible for a Hugo Award for Fan Writing. That’s why there is a category for Best Related Work.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. @JJ

        Yes, part of what I meant (but didn’t write) was that the distinction about when a pro was being a fan was part of that unwritten understanding.
        I’m quite happy that when e.g. Jim Hines does a detailed roundup of an issue in his blog, that’s fan writing.

        I think that depending on the definition of a word which people now have very different ideas on the meaning of, isn’t going to work.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. JJ — Do not do the mansplaining lecturing thing at me about the Hugos, please.

    “Commercially” edited is a vague idea, especially in the magazine and fanzine world of the 1960’s-1980’s when the same people were often doing magazines, commercially published anthologies, self-published anthologies, free-lance editing, fanzines and mimeographed fan newsletters. They would do their own writing and then they would edit their friends and colleagues’ writing and stick them in the fanzine and they were pros in the industry and in fandom. They had their fingers in a lot of pies as both hobby and sources of income. And today people are doing the same thing in both print and electronic forms.

    So I’m not saying that writing for Tor.com necessarily fits the category. I’m saying that Cam’s suggestion that being edited or not at all marks what is fan writing and what is not is not sufficiently clear-cut to work well. Fanzines are often edited. And that editing is supposed to be considered non-professional in the Hugo Awards to be a fanzine. But the person doing the editing may be and often has been a professional. What is “commercial” professional editing is not clear-cut since a lot of people who get paid for editing as professionals also edit fanzines and spaces for fan writing that is not for profit. Some fanzines are essentially full out magazines and they grow or morph. And the Award for Fan Writer can, by the rules, go to a writer who is published in a semiprozine — a semi-professionally edited magazine for which the writer is paid for the writing. (There is also no restriction that the Fan Writer cannot be a professional fiction author, as we know.) So trying to make do you have an editor the dividing line, as Cam suggested, is going to be, in my opinion, way too nebulous to work for the Hugos. And the commercially professionally edited part is complicated and has regularly shifted on what counts and what doesn’t.

    The Hugos have tried to use whether the fanzine/magazine pays contributors and how much as judgement calls on this as pro, semi-pro and fanzine, but that’s not really editing related. And they’ve made size of the subscription base part of the categories’ qualifications, which is what I was talking about, but again, that’s not the editing either. So editor versus no editor doesn’t work well. And your pro editor versus hobby editor has been applied partly to the Hugos but it’s a murky distinction that shifts. So all in all, making editors the distinction for Fan Writer has as many problems as paid for it and how much does.

    Locus was considered a fanzine and won/was nominated for the Fanzine Award a lot, as was the Science Fiction Review and the Science Fiction Chronicle. In the 1980’s they invented the Semiprozine Category and kicked them all into that category out of Fanzine as “semi” professionally edited magazine/fanzines. The idea was that they were fanzines with a larger audience and therefore now more “professional” (and also the Hugos wanted new blood in the fanzine category.) The debate about how professional was professional got more complicated though they worked out what they wanted on that issue. And then they changed the rules again and declared Locus now a pro magazine that couldn’t compete in the semiprozine category (which again may have been partly to have newer blood in the category.) At which point did Locus’ editors become “commercial,” “semi-commercial” etc.? So it’s partially used as a dividing line in the Hugos but it’s not the useful, clear distinction that Camestros was after.

    The Hugos are for WorldCon members and to grow and continue the WorldCon audience by having these awards for them, which let them recognize and reward works they find valuable, which is in turn then a valuable part of WorldCon, attracting members to attend and participate in WorldCon and learn about these works. It’s not the first, main purpose of the awards but it is a major purpose/aspect of them and of other convention awards. It is a fun activity for WorldCon members that is also special to them and a celebration that does bring more people into SFF fandom. Fan writers are seen as contributing to the fan community and understanding of SFF through their writing and that’s what WorldCon members are rewarding and voting on.

    Currently, again, Fan Writers who publish in semiprozines for which they are paid (at low rates,) qualify for the Fan Writer category. So though you may want the Hugos to make payment/no payment the dividing line for Fan Writer, that’s not how they actually operate the category. Payment is not the dividing line, though the amount of the payment is. That might change one day, but if it does, it’s certainly not going to stop those who write on their blogs for no pay from qualifying.

    The ranter with her fanzine is objecting not to the payment issue but to the qualification that the Hugos have that professional fiction authors can qualify also as non-fiction fan writers, as they have from the beginning of the award. Being a pro at fiction doesn’t mean that you’re a pro at non-fiction writing, and numerous professional non-fiction writers and professional editors have also qualified as fan writers for the Hugo Award and many of them have been published fiction writers to boot, like Scalzi. Her demands are pretty much impossible to work for the Hugo Award as fiction authors are part of, not separate from, fandom and frequently participate in it as more than just authors, and as authors they vary from short story writers to bestselling novelists.

    Whether an on-line website like Tor.com qualifies as a semiprozine or not is one of those issues that WorldCon members regularly have to work out, just as they will have to do with fan casting. But having clear cut dividing lines on these things is deeply tricky, given the wide ranging involvement — and different levels of paid involvement — of editors, writers and fans in general in fandom.

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    1. Kat Goodwin: Currently, again, Fan Writers who publish in semiprozines for which they are paid (at low rates,) qualify for the Fan Writer category. So though you may want the Hugos to make payment/no payment the dividing line for Fan Writer, that’s not how they actually operate the category. Payment is not the dividing line, though the amount of the payment is.

      This is true, but what a lot of people don’t realize (including me, until someone explained it to me, and I went back through the minutes of various historic Business Meetings to see for myself) is that this is an artifact of various piecemeal changes over the years. The “1/4 of income” clause to determine a Professional Publication (which, in my opinion, is a horrible determiner, and should never have been implemented) was part of the changes to put a stop to the Hugo Award for Best Locus Magazine category. The references to “professional publication” in the Fan categories were put in at a completely different time to try to keep the Fan categories covering what they were intended to cover — without the WSFS membership at the time realizing that the “Professional Publication” definition for Semiprozine would tie into the Fan categories because of the way they were worded.

      In other words, the intent was never that Semiprozine writing was to be eligible for Fan Writing, but that’s what they ended up with, and for a long time it wasn’t a problem, because people weren’t being nominated for Fan Writer for paid writing. So there was never an impetus to fix it until recently, when people started getting nominated for paid writing. It would have been fixed if the changes proposed by the Hugo Category Committee last year had been approved and ratified.

      So I feel perfectly comfortable eliminating paid writing from my consideration when nominating and voting for Fan Writer. Other people will do what they will, add I can’t stop them — but that doesn’t mean that it didn’t leave a really bad taste in my my mouth when the person who won last year’s Fan Writer Hugo won it for paid pro writing. I think that was wrong, and that it was sad.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Which paid writing then becomes the issue as a qualification. Gailey wrote fan writing about the genres and SFF films that was both paid and unpaid in different venues. And she’s not the only fan writer, being an author or not an author, who gets something in Locus or Tor.com or somewhere else where they got a fee, but then did a bunch of unpaid fan writing too. Other fan writers, whether they are published authors or not, often have Patreon and other fund-raising accounts for which they provide content on blogs, Tumblr, Instagram, etc., or even just a basic Tip Jar. So that’s paid fan writing. And yet also some of their fan writing they may do without it being directly supplying people who contribute money to them. (Which is why Hugo flailingly tries to do income ratios, with all the problems Mike Glyer pointed out. And he should know having been nominated for these awards for years.)

        The problem is that the Hugo Award for Fan Writer is an award for a PERSON with a body of fan writing for the year, not a specific set of fan writing that the person did like the other awards for specific publications or magazines with a set of publications for the year. And that body of work is often paid and unpaid as a mix in different venues and has been again since the award was started in the late sixties. So why single Gailey out as disqualified when she did unpaid fan writing too and numerous nominees in the past did paid fan writing — which is also within the rules of the award? Sure, the nominees may offer up fan writing as examples for the award consideration that are paid examples — the Hugo packet for instance being a relatively recent thing in the awards history — but the award isn’t just for the fan writing they offer to have WorldCon members read. As it stands now, it’s for all the fan writing they did, paid and unpaid, over the course of the year.

        So if you wanted unpaid to be the qualifier, it would make sense for the Fan Writer Award to be about a specific set or piece of fan writing the person did during the year, not all of their fan writing, just like the fiction awards and Best Related Work. And that way you could have only unpaid fan writing qualify for the award. That wouldn’t stop those nominated for their unpaid fan writing from also doing paid fan writing or paid/published fiction writing, but it would keep the specifics the award is considered and voted on to be unpaid work.

        So, right now, as the award stands purely for Fan Writer, with no specific publications:

        If the work is edited, it’s not fan writing — doesn’t work.
        If the fan writer has ever worked as an editor, paid or unpaid, they can’t be a fan writer — doesn’t work.
        If the work is “professionally” edited, it’s not fan writing — way too vague and difficult to work.
        If the fan writer had some paid fan writing as well as unpaid fan writing for the year, then it’s all not fan writing — doesn’t work, especially in the electronic patronage age.
        If the fan writer has published fiction (or paid published fiction,) then they can’t be a fan writer on non-fiction — impossible to work.
        If the fan writer has a professional type of style — that really doesn’t work since who determines that.
        If the fan writer got a little fee, but it’s a supposedly tiny portion of their income for the year, they can be fan writer but not if they got more — has never worked well.

        If you are going to revamp it from the loose, broad muddle it has been — a muddle that reflects the nature of the fandom community itself — you have to have one clear-cut standard, consistently and resolutely applied. And the very nature of fan writing — in fanzines, blogs and Web outlets, newsletters, convention and event speeches, etc., even filking songs — by all sorts of people who are fans, makes it very difficult to come up with one.

        But in any case, “content that is edited can’t be fan writing” isn’t going to work as a concept. And paid writing disqualifying a person as a fan writer, no matter what else they do in fan writing is tricky for the Award itself, never mind what individual voters decide to use as their personal guidelines.

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      2. //But in any case, “content that is edited can’t be fan writing” isn’t going to work as a concept. //
        “content that is *professionally* edited can’t be fan writing” might work though. Is it somebody’s job to commission the work, pick what gets published and recommend changes? Then it isn’t fan-controlled (so to speak) it’s a commercial product even if it is free. Actually, come to think of it, it is a commercial product even if the writer didn’t get paid for it.

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      3. Kat Goodwin: Gailey wrote fan writing about the genres and SFF films that was both paid and unpaid in different venues… why single Gailey out as disqualified when she did unpaid fan writing too?… the award isn’t just for the fan writing they offer to have WorldCon members read.

        Her packet submission contained two pro pieces from Tor.com and a paid piece from Uncanny. I looked, and was unable to find much in the way of unpaid Fan Writing. She was asking people to judge her for the Fan Writer award based on her paid work. So I did. I No-Awarded her, because what was in her packet was not Fan Writing.

         
        Kat Goodwin: The problem is that the Hugo Award for Fan Writer is an award for a PERSON with a body of fan writing for the year, not a specific set of fan writing that the person did… it would make sense for the Fan Writer Award to be about a specific set or piece of fan writing the person did during the year

        It is exactly an award for a specific set of Fan Writing that a person did.

         
        Kat Goodwin: paid writing disqualifying a person as a fan writer, no matter what else they do in fan writing is tricky for the Award itself

        A fan having done paid writing about fannish things does not disqualify them as a Fan Writer. The paid writing is just not part of their Fan Writing oeuvre.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Camestros: “content that is *professionally* edited can’t be fan writing” might work though. Is it somebody’s job to commission the work, pick what gets published and recommend changes? Then it isn’t fan-controlled (so to speak) it’s a commercial product even if it is free. Actually, come to think of it, it is a commercial product even if the writer didn’t get paid for it.

        Then you’d have to eliminate numerous fanzines and a whole lot of writers who were nominated for Fan Writer over the decades. So what would be the point, then? What is going to be the criteria for “professionally” edited over simply edited? That strategy would just throw the award to people writing on their blogs over fanzines. Mike Glyer edits File 770 and has contributors he picks, etc. — so is he out now? If you let somebody guest post on your blog, which numerous people do and which is picking what gets published, is the blog out of the running and now a commercial product? So you’d have to get into a lot of hazy, contentious thickets on that one. “Professional” is going to be subjective and you can come up with a criteria for it, but doing so is going to eliminate a lot of writing that traditionally was considered fan writing.

        JJ: “Her packet submission contained two pro pieces from Tor.com and a paid piece from Uncanny.”

        Again, packet submissions are a relatively recent phenomena (much helped and developed by Scalzi ironically,) and are samples of work, usually what the person considers their best writing, but do not count as the only work being considered from the fan writer for the year for the Fan Writer award. The point of the packet was to make it easier for voters to know who the nominees are, if they cared to check it out, but in the case of Fan Writer, which again is not an award for one specific work — those specific works are not cited in the nomination or the award win, only the person’s name — the packet samples are not the only fan writing from the person that qualifies them for the award. And certainly wasn’t before the packet ever existed.

        So you can set whatever qualifications for your own personal Hugo vote you like, including that you will only look at the fan writing samples in the packet, though it sounds like you looked up more than just the packet inclusions. But for revamping the awards regulations of the actual Hugo itself, saying that packet submissions is it is not going to work, since many authors haven’t managed to put anything into the packet in the past, even for fiction awards where it is a specified single work. And many Hugo voters don’t read what’s in the packet for Fan Writer but may read fan writing by the person elsewhere. So it’s a standard that can work for one person’s personal voting but for the award itself, it doesn’t work unless the Fan Writer Award is specifically revamped to mean only one work of fan writing per potential nominee/nominee, specifically mentioned in the nomination.

        “A fan having done paid writing about fannish things does not disqualify them as a Fan Writer. The paid writing is just not part of their Fan Writing oeuvre.”

        Yes, we know that — it’s in the rules for the award. Also in the rules for the Award is that fan writing that they are paid for can also be a part of their Fan Writing oeuvre that is considered as long as it is low pay, at the level of a semiprozine as defined by the Hugo rules. And several fan writers won with that definition. The only way to change it to say only unpaid works count for Fan Writer is that you have to specify those works being considered by their titles, i.e. these are the specific unpaid fan writing pieces of the Fan Writer over here, as distinct from paid pieces the same writer might have done. And they don’t do that currently, though individual voters may use that as their personal criteria, as you have. So just saying that pay is the dividing line doesn’t work on its own. It would have to be more case by case specific, naming specific titles that qualify, to work as a qualifying rule for the award, eliminating the semiprozine allowance and a lot of other complicated publication situations.

        Another possible situation for the Hugos is to do another split as the Hugos have often done over the years to make things more clear cut. Best Related Work started out as Non-Fiction Book, then moved into allowing essays in magazines to compete with non-fiction books (and related fictional works more controversially.) But it’s rather hard for a magazine essay to compete with whole non-fiction books, so books have tended to win and dominate the nominations. If you made a Best Related Work long form (books) and a Best Related Work short form (articles and essays paid published in magazines, etc.) for again specific works as they do in Best Related Work, and if you then did the Fan Writer Award for specific pieces by the writers that were unpaid, then you’d have a clearer situation.

        But right now, they don’t do any of that, so individually voters decide whether they are going to follow the current rules of the fan writing category in their voting or not. Currently, you do not follow the rules of the Hugo Award for Fan Writer category because those rules include semiprozine low-pay publication for fan writing to be considered. You use a stricter criteria that does not seem to be applied that consistently but does at least have a guideline. But it’s based on specific work as you’ve decided what is the specific work and that’s not how the award itself is currently set up. If the Hugos applied your standard, they would have to make changes and I don’t see it working for the actual award category unless you start having it be single specific works by each writer named in the award, as is done for Best Related Work and all fiction awards.

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      5. Kat Goodwin: The only way to change it to say only unpaid works count for Fan Writer is that you have to specify those works being considered by their titles… don’t see it working for the actual award category unless you start having it be single specific works by each writer

        Why would this be required? All that needs to be specified is that paid writing is not eligible. People who made eligibility posts which included paid work would get it very quickly pointed out to them that those works were not eligible. Does that mean that they would be forced to remove such works from their eligibility posts? No, but they’d look like a real dick if they didn’t, and a lot of Hugo voters would take note of that. Any paid work submitted by for the packet by Finalists would be excluded.

        Would this stop people from nominating writers for paid work? No, but it would bring some social pressure to bear on the situation. I’ve already seen people making eligibility posts where they specificatlly said, “I’ve left off my paid work.” And if a writer had no unpaid published work to submit for the packet, the Hugo Admins would disqualify them.

        You’re making this a lot harder than it needs to be.

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      6. //What is going to be the criteria for “professionally” edited over simply edited? //

        A person or persons was literally paid to commission, select and amend the work i.e. it was somebody’s job to do so.

        //Mike Glyer edits File 770 and has contributors he picks, etc. — so is he out now?//

        No, because nobody pays him to do that.

        //If you let somebody guest post on your blog, which numerous people do and which is picking what gets published, is the blog out of the running and now a commercial product?//

        No, because nobody is being paid to do that.

        //“Professional” is going to be subjective and you can come up with a criteria for it//

        There are already Hugo rules on what is professional, so it is possible to make a distinction for other categories

        //Yes, we know that — it’s in the rules for the award. Also in the rules for the Award is that fan writing that they are paid for can also be a part of their Fan Writing oeuvre that is considered as long as it is low pay, at the level of a semiprozine as defined by the Hugo rules. //

        It is not currently in the rules for FAN WRITER. The rules for fan writer have ambiguity and paid work for any amount is not excluded by the rules for fan writer. Arguably it is implied by the name and by the fact that fanzines and semipros are mentioned by name but the final clause lets in a wide range of things – including work that is paid for in a commercial setting. The rules really only exclude work that the reader has to pay for that isn’t in a semi-pro. Hence my example of The Guardian – a column in a major newspaper (so long as it isn’t behind a paywall) is not excluded by the fan writer rules.

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      7. camestrosfelapton: There are already Hugo rules on what is professional, so it is possible to make a distinction for other categories

        My understanding from the Hugo Category Committee report is that the intent is that the ridiculous 1/4 income clause is going to go away ASAP; I think that they are planning to make “Semiprozine” just “Professional Magazine”, which would include any paying venue, including prozines and semiprozines. So I suggest that any thought experiments be done with that clause assumed to be defunct.

        Liked by 1 person

      8. JJ: You keep trying to pretend that the packet is used by all Hugo voters and is the source of the only works by which the fan writer is judged, but that’s not how they do it. The potential nominees and their works are voted on before the packet even exists. No fan writer nominee has to submit to the packet and indeed weren’t always able to when it first started up. Not all the voters use the packet when assessing works and making decisions. So what’s in the packet may be what the fan writer is forced to chose to present in hopes of making voters aware of their work, but what is in the packet is not what makes the Fan Writer Award. What is in the packet is not solely the body of work of their fan writing, though individual voters are free to treat it that way if they want or not if they want. And before that, the packet didn’t exist and was not involved at all. Voters are not required to read the packet and they are not required to vote only on fan writing that is in the packet and/or on only one work of fan writing by the Fan Writer.

        The Hugos have more or less two types of awards — awards for a specific work: the fiction awards, Best Related Work– and awards for a person for a BODY of work as defined by the rules of the category, rather than one sole specific work: Best Editor awards, Best Artist and Best Fan Writer. Currently, the body of fan writing work that can be considered for a fan writer includes both non-paid and low-paid (semiprozine) fan writing. They all can be included in consideration by voters for nominating and for winning the nomination, not simply one piece of writing. If they did change it to one piece of writing, the award would also change from Fan Writer to the Award for Fan Writing, with the one work specified. (And that would probably be a lot easier on everybody.)

        Currently, the Hugos allow low paid work in what it considers semiprozine level to be considered in the body of work by a fan writer for the award. So Gailey was simply following the hazy rules in promoting what she saw as her best fan writing included within the whole body of her fan writing for the year — Barnes & Noble didn’t pay her much for waxing on their newsletter because it’s a promotional opportunity for her for their stores — it’s for her to write something to and about the fans to reach them in general good will, which B&N regards as a favor to the fans (love) and co-op advertising at the same time, not a for profit magazine. Therefore it does, under all the complicated murky rules they have for semiprozine, fit what is allowed. And Tor.com’s status as a semiprozine because it’s also not a for profit magazine but a new, multi-prong form in the field, has been much in dispute, but then, so was Locus for fanzine, semiprozine and professional magazine over the years. The designations aren’t clear cut and are out of date. Putting those materials in the body of her fan writing work was within the rules and was considered by numerous voters thereby.

        You penalized her for following the rules because you don’t like the rules for the category. Which is your right as an individual voter. But designing a standard for the award itself is different than just deciding your own personal criteria for your one vote. With the what is a semiprozine being increasingly complicated, the World members are likely to get rid of it soon as allowed in the fan writer award (which does not solve the fan artist award issues,) and specify that it is fan writing that is only unpaid that can be considered by voters as part of the body of work of fan writing by the fan writer.

        But, “unpaid” is not an entirely cut and dried circumstance in the SFFH media and fandom fields, as people have raised as consideration. B&N doesn’t have to pay Gailey to write a piece of fan writing for their site/newsletter if they don’t feel like it, as it’s not a for profit enterprise, and numerous similar sites/newsletters involved in sales and promotions regularly have writers do such pieces for free. Professional publications will have authors guest write bits for no pay if it’s indirectly related to promotion/coverage stuff they are doing. Numerous pieces are done in which authors are asked to weigh in on some issue for no pay but it is connecting with fans and promotional. Is the objection the pay or that it’s with B&N? There are and have been disputes on that, as there are disputes on those who have writing on their own blogs that happen to be blogs that earn them income. Nobody’s paying them, except the blog is getting paid. So is that unpaid or paid? And is that fair to writers with less resources?

        And voters, as you yourself show, don’t necessarily go along with the rules in their assessments. They may consider fan writing from the writer that was paid for along with unpaid work, even though it’s against the new rules. Which again is their right as voters. But if you truly want ONLY unpaid work to be considered by voters and be the clear-cut dividing line — because potential nominees, both fiction author and non-author, usually do a mix of paid fan writing, non-paid fan writing and possibly promotional writing that is unpaid and in service to fans, especially if they are fiction authors — then you would have to limit it to one specific work that could be definitively considered unpaid and is the only work the voters are considering for the award. One specific work, unpaid, is easy. Voters are likely to follow the rule and just look at the one work and so it’s a straight forward assessment of unpaid fan writing. But if it’s just the body of fan writing work, unpaid, with all the permutations of that and no tighter limits on voters, then no, it’s not easy. It’s not that I’m “over thinking” it; it’s that the SFFH field, media and fandom are and have never been in the straight and cut-dried lines you and Cam keep trying to make them out as. 🙂

        I do think the Hugos will dump the semiprozine classification as part of the Fan writer category rules because it’s out-dated and raises general ire now. But that’s not necessarily going to solve the issues of venues like Tor.com and the fan writer award. It’s still going to be murky, though probably less murky.

        Camestros:

        “A person or persons was literally paid to commission, select and amend the work i.e. it was somebody’s job to do so.”

        There are editors of fanzines who are paid for doing the editing. And there are editors of semiprozines who started the semiprozine and pay the contributors pro/semi-pro rates but do not themselves take a salary as publisher and editor as the semiprozine is their hobby. So by your call above, a fanzine editor could be a professional editor — and thus disqualify her contributors from fan writing consideration even if they aren’t paid for the contributions — and a contributor who was paid for fan writing published in the semiprozine would still be considered a fan writer for the award because the editor was not a professional since unpaid. And that’s not even getting into the issue of how much pay is considered “literally paid” — nominal fee and reimbursed expenses? A full yearly salary? A percentage of the profits, if there are any? What if the owner of the fanzine doesn’t get paid for organizing, commissioning, etc. the fanzine hobby but does hire a free-lance editor for pay to edit the contributions? Again, not as clear cut and dried as you’re hoping for in SFFH and fandom.

        What if File 770 or similar publications receives a grant, paying it to commission, select and maybe amend contributions, or gets a sponsorship, such as CompuServe hosting Mike’s website for years? Does it then become professionally edited? What if it takes on advertising, which brings in income to the editor because the editor is also the owner? What if the fanzine starts putting out chapbooks of its archived material for profit sale, providing income to the fanzine? (You sell books with your Timothy pieces.) When the editors of Locus were declared no longer fanzine editors but instead semiprozine editors, did they suddenly become professional after not being so before? How do you deal with fanzines that have unpaid editors who are also paid professional editors in other venues or publishing houses? If a fan writer writes for an editor who is paid and another piece for an editor who is unpaid, and doesn’t get paid for either contribution, why does the fan writer have to exclude the unpaid work for the paid editor from their body of fan writing for consideration when the writer is the same person?

        The problem you have is you’re trying to make the status of the fan writer entirely contingent on an entirely other person, the editor, and that person’s assessed status, rather than the fan writer’s status, and that’s usually for only one piece of writing the fan writer does for that editor, not a body of work. And you’re also trying to make the editor’s situation entirely separate from the venue in which the editor edits, which also doesn’t work. The field is actually complicated. There aren’t two regulated guilds, professional and amateur hobbyist, like sports. Everything is mixed. So your criteria isn’t going to work and draws away from the fan writer and the fan writer’s actual writing into the mess of hybrid SFFH publications and fandom expression that contains everything from traditional copy machine newsletters from people’s basements to hand out at meetings or conventions to new online collectives where writers edit each other and frequently find various new ways to profit from it, (and related types of websites like the former SF Signal.)

        So no, leave the editors to the Editor Awards, which also are still having disputes about status. 🙂

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      9. Kat, do not do the mansplaining lecturing thing at me about the Hugo Awards, please.

        A lot of your comments on this blog are interesting and insightful, and I appreciate the time and thought you put into them. I have learned some interesting and enlightening things from some of your comments.

        But occasionally you post comments about things where you clearly have an incomplete understanding of things, which I happen to know because my understanding of those things is a lot more complete than yours.

        And yet you are not willing to listen to anyone else’s expertise. You have one setting: “Send”. There is no “Receive”. When it has been pointed out to you on various occasions that you are wrong, instead of being willing to take a step back and reconsider, or concede that someone else might actually know more about something than you do, you dig your heels in and continue to insist that you are the expert and other people are wrong.

        You say: “JJ: You keep trying to pretend that the packet is used by all Hugo voters and is the source of the only works by which the fan writer is judged”

        But I’m not doing that. I haven’t said that at all. That is just something you made up, because it serves your argument.

        I am well aware of what the Hugo Award rules are — even more so than you are — and I also have a very good understanding of how they got to their current form, something for which your understanding is very incomplete. Yet you feel compelled to keep explaining them to me as if I can’t possibly understand anything about them.

        Of course “unpaid” is not a cut-and-dried definition. Did you honestly think that is not obvious to me, despite my extensive participation in this discussion where I’ve talked about it being a hard problem? It’s a starting point for working up some sort of reasonable definition for the Fan categories. And yes, you are overthinking it, in the sense that you’re claiming that a revised definition must be perfect and cover all possible permutations.

        The reality is that paid Semiprozine work was never intended to be eligible for Fan Writing, but it ended up that way after years of the rules for the various categories being changed in piecemeal bits, year after year, with perhaps less scrutiny of how each change affected the whole than was needed. For a while, this was not a problem, because nominators weren’t nominating people for Fan Writing based on paid work. But now people have started doing so. Recognizing paid work is not the purpose of the Fan categories, and WSFS members are working to come up with some definitions which will work better at accomplishing the purpose of those categories than the currently existing rules.

        Liked by 1 person

      10. @JJ

        All that needs to be specified is that paid writing is not eligible. People who made eligibility posts which included paid work would get it very quickly pointed out to them that those works were not eligible. Does that mean that they would be forced to remove such works from their eligibility posts? No, but they’d look like a real dick if they didn’t, and a lot of Hugo voters would take note of that. Any paid work submitted by for the packet by Finalists would be excluded.

        I don’t mind paid writing being listed in eligibility posts as long as it is clearly marked as such. I usually list everything SFF related in mine, but have separate categories for different types of work.

        I also think that splitting Best Related Work in long form and short form would be a good idea, because there are a lot of very good essays and articles published in the various pro and semi-pro mags, which currently don’t fit anywhere except Best Related Work, where they have to compete with full length books (and AO3 and the occasional misplaced filk CD or podcast). Of course, series of articles can be and are nominated in Best Related Work, e,g. Sarah Gailey’s Women of Harry Potter series. But that’s not a solution e.g. for Elsa Sjunneson-Henry’s various articles, because they’re not a series. And besides, the Hugos did have a “best article” category for a while.

        Liked by 1 person

      11. Cora Buhlert: I also think that splitting Best Related Work in long form and short form would be a good idea, because there are a lot of very good essays and articles published in the various pro and semi-pro mags, which currently don’t fit anywhere except Best Related Work, where they have to compete with full length books.

        I agree that there are lots of good one-off nonfiction pieces, and I agree that they will find it tough to compete with novel-length Related Works.

        But I do not agree that we need a Hugo category for them. Not every possible type of genre writing needs to have its own Hugo category. We do not have a Hugo category for Best Poem, for exactly that reason.

        This drive to ensure that all writers have access to Hugo nominations is a recent one, and it is being pushed by a group of younger writers whose interest has been attracted by the idea of winning themselves a Hugo Award. It is not being driven by fans.

        I saw one writer tweeting about how people from their country and the surrounding countries should be given discounted Supporting Memberships to Worldcon so they could participate in the Hugo Awards, because financially they are at a disadvantage, and we need to “put more World in Worldcon”. This was immediately followed by more tweets from the author admitting that people in their country are only a little bit interested in literary festivals and even less interested in something like Worldcon, and it was their big fear that they would never get a Hugo nomination because their readers/fans were not the sort of people who would care to participate in Worldcon.

        Just think about that. This person is not interested in “putting the World in Worldcon” by getting people from their country to participate in the convention. They just want to be able to get the right to nominate in the Hugos for the people they know would nominate them.

        I find this sort of mercenary attitude on the part of authors with regard to the Hugos really distasteful and aggravating. These aren’t people acting as fans, these are writers trying to use Worldcon and its fan awards get advantage for themselves.

        Writers are not entitled to access to Hugo nominations, and we Worldcon members don’t need to create more categories to ensure that they have that access.

        Liked by 1 person

      12. JJ: “Kat, do not do the mansplaining lecturing thing at me about the Hugo Awards, please.”

        I know you think that’s being funny, but it’s just more of the same condescension that led me to call it mansplaining in the first place, on a discussion that isn’t even yours; it’s Camestros’.
        Have a conversation with me or don’t, but quit trying to tone police me to control the conversation and delegitimize anything I’m saying that you think is somehow attacking you. Because this isn’t an attacking conversation about facts; it’s a speculative one on theories in relation to current facts.

        You and Camestros are speculating on ways the Fan Award could be run to better or differently differentiate fan writing from professional or just differentiating fan writing from professional in general, beyond the Hugo Awards. I’m pointing out complications with those theories in regards to what actually happens in the SFFH field, where professional and fan/amateur is in fact, as all here have agreed, a murky distinction. You may not think those complications are important, which is fine with me as well. I’m not necessarily trying to get you to agree with me in a speculative conversation. But telling me that I shouldn’t bring it up and just listen to your speculation — no. Especially as you are asserting that I’m saying things that I’m not actually saying if you took two seconds to look at it.

        Let’s scrap the packet part as I don’t feel like having to quote you the several times you talked about it. We’ll just call that one a misunderstanding. Let’s go with this one:

        “It’s a starting point for working up some sort of reasonable definition for the Fan categories. And yes, you are overthinking it, in the sense that you’re claiming that a revised definition must be perfect and cover all possible permutations.”

        I agree that unpaid is a starting point. I don’t think, in fact, that anyone disputed this as a possible starting point, except that Camestros was rejecting it in favor of unpaid editors instead. I did NOT claim that a revised definition for the award must be perfect and cover all possible permutations. The definition they have now is not “perfect” but seems to have worked just fine, frankly. The revised definition they’ll probably develop over the years won’t be “perfect” either, but I don’t really see the sense of trying to have a “perfect” definition. (So see, you’re not listening.)

        What I did point out was that a clear-cut definition of “unpaid” is not EASY, as you and Camestros both asserted it was. That there are indeed permutations, complications, in using your speculative definitions of “unpaid” for the Hugo Fan Writer Award or for anything else, as well as the complicated history of what has been allowed and desired by the Hugo voters who vote and make the rules of voting over time. It’s not a clear-cut dividing line, so I was pointing out those complications. Which you want to brush off, fine, but it is actually the sort of issues that the World society has had to think about in doing things such as trying to come up with a definition of semiprozine and adjusting that definition over the years. It does actually affect people’s lives and careers, so it’s worth considering those issues when speculating, and it’s not a cut and dried, indisputable situation where you just say the word “unpaid” like a magic talisman.

        Which brings us to the next point again, that “intent” and actual rules that people try to follow are not the same thing. Whatever the intent in establishing the Hugo Fan Writer award criteria — and neither you nor other Hugo voters and officials speak for all those voters of the past — the writers have to go by the rules that are officially set. Individual voters can decide their own intent and argue their intent to be made the reformed rules, which may occur through business vote. But whether you like it or not, the World society made semiprozine, low-paying fan writing legitimate and acceptable in the rules for that award. Saying that well nobody paid attention to that part of the rules in the past is not historically accurate first off. And second, it’s beside the point. The rules say it’s allowed and counts, so for the writers under consideration, it does in fact count while those rules are in effect. As a voter, you can discount that part of the rules in how you vote, but that does not illegitimize those writers in the awards, who are still considered fan writers by the AWARD and its whole voting body. Cause them’s the rules.

        “WSFS members are working to come up with some definitions which will work better at accomplishing the purpose of those categories than the currently existing rules.”

        Which is fine and normal procedure for WSFS and what we were all already aware was going on. It’s not surprise news, as you seem to keep thinking. And we can speculate as to what will with the majority of members who do the business vote work for them as fan writing. But it is complicated and personally I’d rather have the people designing a new criteria for the award be those who consider those complications and the wider, more inclusive definitions of fan writing and not those who think it’s just a simple set of tight boxes.

        For instance, there’s the issue of various forms of fiction/satire being considered part of fan writing, eligible for the award. A lot of people don’t like that and don’t think that sort of writing should count as the fan writing. Others think that it absolutely does. So that may be coming up in revisions to the criteria too. And that will affect a lot of people whose writing may be considered or not for the award. And then there is the issue the fanzine ranter went on (although hypocritically) — the rules could be changed so that if you are a published, selling FICTION author, then you can’t be up for fan writer at all. That would be a big change in Hugo history, but it could happen and it’s probably going to come up for debate in changing the criteria for the award. And separately but related, the definition of a semiprozine is likely to change once again.

        Just as the Hugo voters moved Locus from one new category to another because it kept winning in its categories, the reformed criteria for the award is probably going to try to stymie various outlets like Tor.com that don’t fit what was happening/weren’t imagined in the 1960’s. But it will also be tempered by the fact that it isn’t the 1960’s and new criteria needs to deal with different kinds of media. All of which is fine, because the awards can be whatever the voting members of the WSFS want them to be. The Hugos are their awards for their pleasure. But whatever they end up with, it will not be the definitive definition of fan writing in fandom itself. The distinctions will continue to be fuzzy and continue to be argued and speculated on.

        And I remain in my position that Camestros’ editor idea just doesn’t work very well in the SFFH field as a clear distinction. You may disagree.

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      13. Kat Goodwin: I know you think that’s being funny

        No. I don’t think it’s the least bit funny. I am being serious. I am pointing out that you are doing the very condescending ‘splainy thing to me that you are accusing me of doing to you. And you are doing it on a discussion that isn’t yours, it’s Camestros’. You have done this many times in the past here, and I’m not the only one you’ve done it to. I don’t know why you think it’s okay for you to do it, when you’re complaining about me doing it.

        In case you still haven’t figured it out, I am not a man. But my gender are not relevant here. My knowledge and expertise, and my ability to engage in discourse, are what’s relevant.

        You are unwilling to acknowledge that anyone else in this discussion might have knowledge and expertise that you do not. And I’m getting weary of reading you saying the same things over and over again as if you think that people were either too stupid to understand it the first time, or will think that something which is not correct has suddenly become correct because it’s been said enough times.

        You come at the Hugo Awards from the perspective of someone who is deeply immersed in the publishing world. Which is fine. But because of that, you have some very particular ideas about things involved with the Hugos — which are fan awards, not publishing industry awards — that simply aren’t true, and no matter how much you insist they are true, it does not magically make them so.

        Your extreme verbosity is a disadvantage to you. Because of your tendency to repeat yourself numerous times, and to posts great walls of text, the nuggets of goodness you include often get buried in the avalanche. And that’s a shame, because you do have a lot of good things to say.

         
        Kat Goodwin: the rules could be changed so that if you are a published, selling FICTION author, then you can’t be up for fan writer at all

        They could be, but they never will be. Because the Fan Writer category is not, and has never been about “Amateur Writer vs. Pro Writer”. It is, and has always been, about “Fan Writing vs. paid writing by a fan”.

        Liked by 1 person

      14. “Kat & JJ can we cool the argument down please.”

        Well that’s the funny thing. We aren’t really having an argument. J.J. thinks we’re having an argument wherein I am declaring that JJ has little understanding of the Hugos, which has not actually been the case. Nor have I ever said the Hugos are a publishing industry award. They are the opposite of that; they are fan awards for a convention, which is something the Puppies never seemed to get. The Hugos can be whatever the Hugo voters decide collectively to make them be.

        I did get a bit snippy when J.J. asserted that I might wish the Hugos were a certain way (I don’t) but that I don’t actually understand the Hugos when I was bringing up the actual rule the Hugos have that semiprozine payment is acceptable for Fan Writer. But that brings me to my apology: J.J. I am sincerely sorry that I misgendered you in regards to those parts of the discussion. I made an assumption and reacted from that assumption, which one should try to avoid on the Internet, and I hope you’ll accept this apology but do understand if you don’t.

        But I really am not arguing with you or Camestros about the Hugo Awards and what they’re going to do about the Hugo Awards, etc. I don’t know what they’re going to do with the Fan Writer award criteria and I have no reason to doubt JJ’s assertion that they are going to reform that criteria to get rid of the semiprozine aspect. That seems likely and I’ve said as much. Nor am I likely to dispute JJ’s assertion that being a pro fiction author will never disqualify folk from the Fan Writer Award. That seems likely too, given the award’s history and the society’s make-up. But as we saw with the fanzine woman who inspired Camestros’ post, there are some who hold that view about fan writing, or at least say they do, because views about fan writing are often varied.

        And that’s essentially what I’ve been talking about. That the terms “unpaid,” “fan writing,” “professional editing” etc. are complicated in fandom, that there are permutations, that different people interpret them differently which raises issues for things like the Hugos that are trying to work out what criteria they’ll use, and which makes the criteria that were being suggested here as a definition a bit more complex than presented. Which I don’t think anybody disagrees on either. It was a speculative discussion about the definitions of words and criteria related to the fanzine flap over the Hugo award, not an argument over the Hugo Awards.

        But clearly, we have wandered into the weeds and are going in circles. And JJ keeps thinking I’m declaring myself the grandpoobah of the Hugo Awards. So it’s best to simply stop.

        But I will do one more repetition in apologizing once again to J.J. for the misgendering. That should not have happened and I am sorry.

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      15. Kat, I do really appreciate the apology, and I thank you for giving it, but to be truthful, I don’t really care about the misgendering. People do it to me quite a bit on File 770, and I actually find it pretty amusing — especially watching how their responses toward me change after they find out. I’m pretty self-secure, and what other people say to and about me is not my identity, so it really doesn’t bother me. And of course it deflects some of the mansplainers, which is fine because holy shit have I had a lifetime’s worth of that.

        What does bother me is that you automatically assumed that I was a clueless mansplaining man trying to talk down to a woman, rather than an equal peer bringing my own expertise to the discussion. The only reason I finally said something about my gender was because it seemed like it was the only way to get you to take a step back and re-evaluate your assumptions rather than (as I perceived it) treating me dismissively.

        It’s understandable that you view the Hugo Awards through a publishing industry lens, because that’s your background. And of course it is fine for you to do so.

        But seeing the Hugo Awards described through that lens really irks me — not because it’s anything to do with you in particular — but because some of it sounds very similar to a lot of the things I’m seeing some of these younger authors saying online. They don’t give a shit about Worldcon. They’re not doing anything adjacent to Worldcon as fans who care about making Worldcon wonderful. They’re participating in the Hugos — and some of them are going to Worldcon — because they think it will get them access to Hugo nominations. They’re like those carpetbagger politicians who move to a state and run for office not because they love the place, and want to make a home there, and care about making things better for the people who live there — but because it will get them what they want for their ambitions.

        You see them making a huge deal about “putting the World in Worldcon”. Getting more people from non-US countries participating in Worldcon is a worthy goal, one I fully support and help work toward. But it’s clear from the other things they say that they’re not actually talking about Worldcon, and they don’t give a shit about Worldcon. What they really mean is that they want to parcel out Hugo nominations to authors from other countries — to themselves and their friends. To them, the Hugo Awards are just a stepping-stone for their ambitions and their egos.

        Now, it may be that after a few years of participating in the Hugo Awards, and maybe going to some Worldcons, they will develop the genuine feeling that Worldcon is their convention, something in which they are personally invested because they love it and want to nurture it.

        I do hope so. Because right now, all of the mercenary comments about the Hugo Awards that I see a significant number of authors making online leave a really bad taste in my mouth and make me resent the hell out of them for their cupidity.

        I hope that this gives you some insight into why I’ve reacted in the way that I have. Pax.

        JJ

        Liked by 1 person

      16. JJ:

        Pax to you back. But…. 🙂

        You keep saying that I’m looking at the Hugos through a publishing industry lens. And I keep pointing out that I don’t see the Hugos that way. That’s a different issue than making comments about your speculative theory, in relation to Cam’s speculative theories, about what makes fan writing in GENERAL. Essentially, the conversation was about two different, but related issues, general definitions and the Hugo Fan Writer award, and they tended to get conflated. The stuff about the Hugo Fan Writer and what the convention might do with it were also speculative, not absolute. Me asking questions and pointing out possible contradictions with parsing out how people actually write and get paid was not me demanding absolutes.

        I absolutely don’t view the Hugos through a publishing industry lens. The Hugos are the sole property of WorldCon members, a fan membership that varies from year to year (though there are a core of regular attendees at least when they can afford it,) as the con itself varies from year to year as different medium-sized cons hold it and run it as host — including cons that are not in the United States. The WorldCon members decide what they want out of the awards by collective voting following established and elected rules and procedures. They decide what the awards will be, whether they’ll vote for them or not and on what grounds, who will be nominated, etc. The awards are part of the convention (which is why I mentioned that they are part of the convention PR, a draw. That’s not to say that WorldCon holds the Hugos purely for publicity purposes — they do not clearly. They do, though, hold them as an enjoyable and meaningful event for the convention members that convention members look forward to — and usually take fairly seriously.)

        As we went over again and again trying to explain to the Puppies, the WorldCon members are the only ones who decide this because the Hugos are their awards. It doesn’t matter what the outside world thinks, the media and certainly not the publishing industry, (who aren’t even eligible for all the awards.) While the Hugos acquired prestige over time for their picks and reading suggestions from the awards, that does not entitle those who have not bought voting/membership privileges to have any say in the Hugos or their categories. The definitions of the awards are not book-selling categories/industry specific. The purpose of the awards is not and has never been to be a selling tool for the authors, artists and editors nominated, though that of course can be a by-product. It is, always, a convention award, not a SFFH field award, and is a celebration of the WorldCon members and their love of SFFH.

        I encourage you, though, to have a bit of patience with some of the younger authors who are speaking out of desperation (and sometimes from long held prejudice in the industry that has blocked them.) It’s hard in a counter-intuitive market where readers are marketing resistant and rely on word of mouth, which makes many authors see awards (in an overblown lack of understanding,) as a sort of magic word of mouth resource. (They do the same over-freak out about negative reviews.) And it is an international con, so sometimes a lot of the voters aren’t American — it’s not an American award even if it’s majority American. Wanting WorldCon to get bigger and more international has been one of those push-me-pull-you issues that WorldCon members have debated over for much of its history. A desire for more world in WorldCon isn’t a necessarily bad thing if non-U.S. cons want to make a bid to host.

        But I agree that those pushing for a lot of these aspects are more focused on getting the advantage of the awards rather than on WorldCon itself, which completely misses the point of the Hugos as part of the convention experience. The Puppies’ arguments that the Hugos needed more voters participating missed the point of the Hugos entirely. You could certainly try to argue to get more convention attendees to vote, but it’s not required if members don’t want that as part of their convention experience, and having outside voters pour in was ridiculous, as was the Puppies’ claim that unless the Hugos were a massive thing outside and inside the convention, the convention would collapse. I have floated that WorldCon should maybe dump associate memberships altogether, even before the Puppies’ gaming of those memberships, as that seems to be where most of the problems come in. But I also understand the various reasons why associate memberships are useful for members and the convention, so it’s really up to them.

        I do actually like Cora’s suggestion of splitting Best Related Work into long and short forms, as was done with editors. Not to give more writers Hugo access, but primarily because a lot of convention members read a large amount of SFFH media, commentary and analysis about SFFH, as well as SFFH itself, and I think they might like to have the chance to recognize both kinds/lengths of non-fiction writing about SFFH that they’ve enjoyed. However, a short form award for that might be difficult, in the same way the long form editor award is a bit difficult, and so the voters may never choose to do that. It’s up to them.

        And that was always my point — it’s up to them collectively and these issues and complications in criteria can come up with them collectively as well. It’s not a simple divide on those criteria because it’s not a set of objective definitions, (if it were, Locus wouldn’t have been moved from category to category.) It’s what the WorldCon members decide they want and how they’ll do it. And those decisions won’t always fit with what the founders of WorldCon did in the past and their supposed or expressed “intent.” Membership in the convention changes and views subsequently change, new procedures become standard operation and the winners and noms don’t necessarily have the same make-up as they did twenty years ago.

        Whether it’s Puppies railing that the WorldCon members aren’t voting the Hugos right or the fanzine woman arguing that voters are no longer voting the Hugo Fan categories right, or similar arguments from others, WorldCon, made up of the folks who buy memberships in it, will keep on doing what it wants with the Hugos for their own enjoyment. Which is exactly how it’s supposed to be with a convention award.

        (Which is why the semiprozine allowance does actually count for Hugo Fan Writer, as it’s what WorldCon members did decide to have. And if they decide to junk that part, then they won’t have it anymore and it won’t count. It’s entirely up to them.)

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Talking about Tor.com for a moment — I am of the opinion that:

    Keith R.A. DeCandido’s ongoing entries about superhero movies are professional writing.

    Ellen Cheeseman-Meyers’ ongoing entries about rereading all of Bujold’s Vorkosigan novels are fan writing.

    They both appear in the same venue, presumably both of them are being paid for the work, and presumably an editor at Tor.com commissioned the work and exerts normal editorial control. Given that: 1. Should we distinguish between them? 2. If so, how do we distinguish between them?

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    1. -dsr-: how do we distinguish between them?

      You’ve already distinguished between them. Can you explain the reasoning behind your distinction?

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    2. Hmmm, I’ve just read a couple of columns from each one, and I don’t think I’m seeing what you’re seeing. I +1 JJ’s request for more info.

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  8. For me, it’s a matter of style.

    KRAD is analyzing the movies in a style which is a cross between a professional film critic and an industry insider. I could see the set of entries collected into a book like those written by Roger Ebert. Even when he clearly likes or dislikes a particular movie, the style sets the author away from the work. Students in film school might reasonably be assigned readings as part of a class on constructive criticism.

    EC-M is discussing the Vorkosiverse books as a fan who loves them, occasionally finds bits problematic, but overall is thoroughly and personally engaged in the universe. There’s no distance between her discussion of the work and her feelings about the work.

    To be clear, I’m not saying that one is better than the other; I have enjoyed reading them both. But, should I think them worthy of Hugo nominations, I would think of Related Work for KRAD and Fan Writing for EC-M.

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    1. Okay, assuming you’re right for a moment, I’ve no idea how you’d quantify that into a rule. If course, if it’s just a matter of what you personally choose to nominate as fan writing, then fair enough, we all have our personal tastes.

      That said, I’m really not sure I see what you’re seeing. Admittedly I only read a couple of each person’s articles, but while I can see different styles to a certain extent, I only see two differing personal approaches to writing, not some fundamental difference between the two. E.g. while KRAD does take slightly more of a ‘traditional’ review approach, there’s still plenty of personal reaction in the articles of his I read.
      As an illustration, I’d consider Adam Whitehead to be a great example of a fan writer, and he definitely takes an approach of reviewer and industry analyst for a lot of his work.

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    2. To me, while their styles are a bit different, they are both writing work for which they are paid, which has professional editorial oversight, and which is appearing on the website of a huge publishing house with the aim of promoting and selling their products.

      I have read Fan Writing in both of these styles, which was neither paid nor professionally-edited, and which was self-published on blogs.

      It isn’t the style which determines whether it’s Fan or pro writing. It’s the essence of why and how it was created.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. So I have to ask: is the only difference between pro writing and fan writing whether the author was paid to do it?

    If that’s the case, I don’t see a reason to have two different awards. We don’t have “Best Novel, Pro” and “Best Novel, Fan” — we just have Best Novel, for a work primarily communicated in text and over 40K words, appearing in the year of eligibility.

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    1. I don’t think payment is the only distinction, no, as evidenced by the way people are actively talking about various different distinctions.

      I’m not sure Novel is a helpful example. No, there’s nothing to stop a freely distributed unpaid book winning a fiction category, but then fan writer is one of several categories where a fan/pro split has been deliberately created so as to allow non-pros a fair chance.

      As I said above, if you’ve got a personal criteria based on style then great, I’m sure we all do whether conscious or unconscious, I just don’t see it as a universal criteria we can all agree on, let alone quantify.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I think you are touching on a kind of genre distinction i.e. that ‘fan writing’ is a very broad type of writing (with very fuzzy boundaries) but it is a thing rather than just a classification based on payment.

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      1. Genre distinctions are fuzzy indeed — science fiction vs fantasy, for instance. (Let’s not delve deep into that abyss.) I don’t have a good heuristic here, just a vague sense of dissatisfaction. I can live with that.

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    3. All novels (or other length sff) published in the eligibility year are eligible for Best Novel already — there’s no requirement that they be professionally published.

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    4. -dsr-: If that’s the case, I don’t see a reason to have two different awards.

      There’s a very good reason why the Fan categories exist. The point isn’t to recognize non-fiction work. It’s to recognize fannish work done by fans as a gift to other fans.

      There didn’t always used to be a Related Work category. It was created in 1980 (as Nonfiction book, changed to Related Work in 1999), long after the Fanzine (1955) and Fan Writer and Fan Artist (1967) categories were created.

      Having only one category for both Fan Writing and Pro Writing would totally defeat the purposed of the Fan Writer category. It exists because the Worldcon membership wanted to recognize this very specific type of work.

      Liked by 1 person

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