Hugo Awards Ballot Definition of “Professional”

There has been some confusion over the meaning of “professional” and “non-professional” as used on this year’s Hugo Awards ballot. A new definition of what “professional” means for the purposes of the Hugo Awards went into effect this year, as an amendment to the WSFS Constitution adding the following section:

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.

This is one of the 12 “general provisions” listed in section 3.2 of the Constitution, which means it’s not part of the rules for any particular category, but applies generally except when there is a specific provision to the contrary in a given category. The “professional” definition affects the following categories:

  • Best Professional Artist: qualifying work must appear in a professional publication
  • Best Semiprozine: Semprozines must be non-professional publications
  • Best Fanzine: Fanzines must be non-professional publications
  • Best Fancast: Fancasts must be non-professional in nature
  • Best Fan Writer: Fan writing must appear in semiprozines, fanzines, or in generally available electronic media
  • Best Fan Artist: Fan art must appear in semiprozines, fanzines, or through other public display

Note that the “professional” definition does not affect the other categories on the Hugo Awards ballot. WSFS does not require that written fiction, related works, or dramatic presentations be “professionally” published, nor do the Best Editor categories mention “professional” in their descriptions.

On this year’s Hugo Awards ballot, the first category affected by the “professional” definition, Best Professional Artist, gives the full explanation of what “professional” means, but does not repeat that definition for the remaining categories thereafter such as Best Semiprozine. This inadvertently created some confusion over whether the “professional” definition applies to any category other than Best Professional Artist. Rest assured that this definition of “professional” does apply to all of the categories beyond and including Best Professional Artist, and bear it in mind when making your nominations in those categories.