Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

Serialized Works and Web Comics

Because it was buried as a question in an unrelated post, I'm going to promote it up to here, especially inasmuch as the Hugo Award nominating deadline is upon us:

Electronic publication is the same thing as paper publication

It would appear that there are still many people who think that publishing something online isn't "real" publication, and that something is only "really" published when it appears on pieces of paper with ink on them. This is not true. Publication in any medium counts. The key thing here is that it starts your eligibility clock, too. If you publish something electronically in 2014 and then it is published in paper form in 2015, your work is not eligible for the 2016 Hugo Awards, no matter how popular the paper publication was. You had your shot in 2015 based on the 2014 publication.

This applies to web comics. Consider Girl Genius. It is published one page at a time, three times per week. Some months after each storyline ends, (and not typically in the same calendar year), a printed paper publication comes out collecting that storyline. The serial work rule applies here: a work is eligible for the year in which the final installment is published. If you have a novel serialized across four issues of Analog and the final part is published in the January 2016 issue, the novel won't be eligible for the Hugo Awards until 2017, despite the fact that most of it actually appeared in print in 2015. In the case of the webcomic, if the final installment of a story appeared in 2015, that storyline is eligible for the 2016 Hugo Awards. If a printed-on-paper collection appears in 2016, that collection is not eligible for the 2017 Hugo Awards, because the work was previously published in serial form ending in 2015. Girl Genius won the first four three Best Graphic Story Hugo Awards, and the works that were won were originally published electronically and were finalists for the Hugo Awards held in the years following the publication of the final installments of each work online, not for the printed paper publications that followed the following year.

The serial-work rule is not new. It has been around since (as far as I can tell) the Hugo Awards rules were written down. The only reason I can think that people are confused is that they somehow think something published online isn't "real" and that only ink-on-paper publications are "real."
Tags: "hugo awards"
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