There's been good things happening with the Hugo Awards over the past few years. After reaching something of a nadir of interest even among its own core constituency (the members of Worldcon), interest has been growing and the we're starting to see the fruits of a decade of work to raise the Award's profile. With that higher profile, however, comes people who don't quite understand how things work and who misinterpret well-meaning compliments.
Case in point is an author (I'm not going to link to the post because I'm not actually asking anyone else to get involved) who has had one of her fans tell her that the fan has listed that author's novel on that fan's Hugo Award ballot for this year. The author has squeed and crowed, "I've been nominated for a Hugo Award!" When I saw that — as I'm prone to see many public references to the Awards, as I have a regular search going for them for Mark Protection purposes — I posted to her site attempting to tactfully point out that only those works or people who make the short list are actually "Hugo Award Nominees." She responded sarcastically, pointing out that if someone nominated her for a Hugo Award, she's obviously a Hugo Award nominee, that why should I be concerned inasmuch as she was "promoting" the Hugo Awards and Worldcon, and thanks so much for telling her I should stop doing so.
I considered some further response, drafted several, and posted none of them. I can't think of anything I could say to her that would change her mind. After all, the "plain meaning of the words" means that if even one person nominates you for a Hugo Award, you are obviously a Hugo Award Nominee, and how could it be otherwise?
Well, I'm sorry, but sixty-plus years of practice and precedent, all logic-chopping and semantics aside, has established that only those works that appear on the Hugo Award final ballot are "Hugo Award Nominees." (I'm carefully not saying "top five" because sometimes more or less than five nominees appear on the final ballot.) Nothing and nobody else. Back in 1995, I received sufficient nominations to place twelfth overall, appearing on the "They Also Ran" list that has been published regularly showing works that didn't make the final ballot but placed fifteenth or higher. That doesn't mean I can legitimately describe myself as a "Hugo Award Nominee" even though a handful of people nominated me that year.
The Hugo Awards Marketing Committee has published in its FAQ list (it's the last question on the currently; yes, we know we should index that list) an answer to this question about what constitutes a "Hugo Award Nominee." (Yes, I was involved with writing it.) I was surprised it even had to be answered, but I guess there are now people who only vaguely know about the Hugo Awards other than they are important and who don't quite get the distinction between individuals nominating you for the award and WSFS (by way of the current Worldcon) actually issuing the Hugo Award Nomination.