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Question about story sizes

Is there an online tool or webpage that lists short stories/novelettes/novellas that are eligible so stories get written into the correct field on the ballot form? I sometimes wonder if when I am nominating something if it should go in the Novelette section or the Short Story one. 

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I don't know the answer to your question, but I think that if you nominate in the wrong category, the Hugo administrator just moves it to the right category. I don't know what happens if this means you've nominated too many works in a category, though.

(Obviously if you have the full text of the story in a reasonable digital format, you can dump it into a word processor and have it count the words. I'm sure you've thought of that, though, and I assume that most stories don't meet this criterion.)
I don't know what happens if this means you've nominated too many works in a category, though.

My understanding of the rules is that they'll only do this if you have the slots left over in the other category to allow it.

I'm similarly not aware of a publicly-available database that's 100% reliable, but a good place to start is The Internet Speculative Fiction Database. It lacks many of the online publications, though those are easy to determine via copy-paste into a word processor, as you say. Other shortcomings in the database are purely a result of the lack of volunteer power to get stuff entered.

Most publishers and authors are pretty good about knowing which category a work belongs in, so keep an eye out for the annual "list of eligible works" post that they'll do when nomination season rolls around. I also can't imagine an author being offended by receiving a feedback form off their website saying, "Hi, I'd like to nominate your story for a Hugo, but which category should it be in?"

If all else fails, count the number of characters in a typical line and divide by six. Multiply that by the number of lines per page, and multiply that by the number of pages. Believe it or not, for print publications, that's how word count is normally determined, not by what the word processor says.
Thanks I didn't think about checking ISFDB for that info. I waited until almost the last minute to do my ballot maybe if I get it done sooner I can ask writers.
Most anthologies I read are in paper format so that is out.
I'm not aware of any comprehensive list, but I usually check the current NESFA Hugo Recommendations list when I'm ready to think about nominating.

Also, John Scalzi does two posts on Whatever where he lets authors plug their eligible works, and fans to plug works they like. I found both comment threads useful in making my nominating ballot this year.
I read Whatever but when I actually got down to brass tacks I hadn't thought about checking it. Granted looking back on it a quick search doesn't pop up in either of the lists one of my favorite short stories that I nominated.
There's some slop around the boundaries of each category. (the lesser of 5000 words or 20% of the boundary length, i.e. 1500 words at the short-story/novelette boundary. Officially, the Hugo Administrator can relocate a work into the adjacent category "into a more appropriate category if [the Administrator] feels that it is necessary." There's also a rule (WSFS Constitution section 3.8.6) that allows the administrator to move your nomination into the "correct" category (there's a lot of discussion about what "correct" actually means here) if you've made fewer than five nominations in the other category.

In practice, what this means is that even if a work is (say) 7,450 words long, if most of its nominations are in Novelette, the administrator is likely to count it in Novelette. There's a whole bunch of stuff in the Hugo Award rules that leaves judgments about things in the hands of the voters. It's only if the voters go completely off the rails (say, hundreds of people nominating a short story in Novel) where the Administrator has to take a firmer hand on things.

Something similar happens with Dramatic Presentations. That's why the 90 minute boundary has that 20% play in it as well. If the voters nominate an 87-minute theatrical motion picture mostly in Best Long Form, a sensible Administrator will count it in Long Form, not try to force it into Short Form just because it's less than 90 minutes.

Administrators don't like to go against the expressed will of the voters unless they're effectively forced to do so. It's analogous to judges being very leery of finding technical reasons to set aside the decision of a jury in a criminal trial.
The Hugo Awards

July 2014

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