2023 Hugo Finalist Voting Statistics Posted

The 2023 Hugo Awards were presented October 21 during a ceremony at the Chengdu Worldcon. Today the committee released the voting statistics for the finalists, which show how the winners were determined.  The report is available here: https://file770.com/wp-content/uploads/2023-Hugo-Awards-Stats.pdf.

Still due to be released are the voting figures from the nominating ballots.  Hugo Administrator Dave McCarty wrote on Facebook, “We will definitely have them out before the deadline of 90 days post convention, but right now ‘No, I don’t have an expected release date.’’”

54 thoughts on “2023 Hugo Finalist Voting Statistics Posted

  1. The Terry Pratchett bio in Related Work and Enzhe Zhao in Pro Artist also only needed one pass to win. A lot of other categories didn’t need all 6 passes to determine the winner. Looks like there were very strong preferences.

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  3. Rabbit Test was That Good.

    I remain somewhat baffled that the shortcut of the stats that had three months to be put into the Word template before the con remain the difficulty thing.

  4. @Nickpheas
    Me too. My only guess is that providing all info in both languages is the stumbling block. (At least, my only guess that’s fit for polite company.)

  5. A few more stats on the Astounding:

    Maijia Liu isn’t on Twitter, Everina Maxwell “doesn’t check in much” on Twitter, and Naseem Jamnia either departed Twitter or wasn’t there (?). Weimu Xin, who studied the United States, has a Twitter, but obviously doesn’t use it to connect with a Chinese audience… an I’m honored post has, today, only 551 views, 14 likes, 2 retweets and 1 comment.

    Finalist Isabel J. Kim made awards-related Twitter posts, including an annoucement post (7.3k views, 169 likes, 12 retweets, 19 comments) and an I’m honored post (3.3k, 77, 7, 9).

    Winner Travis Baldree’s I’m honored post got an “astounding” 82.9K views, 2.9k likes, 277 retweets and 157 comments.

    I’m happy people enjoyed Travis’s work and were able to express that, but it isn’t (yet) called the Astounding Award for Best New NaNoWriMoer.

    (Legends & Lattes was written entirely during NaNoWriMo.)

  6. No, putting it into the correct format isn’t why it was this late. Myself and several others who worked in the convention have said publicly things that are the actual reason.

    Mike understands how much work it is to make the worldcon happen.

    We threw the largest worldcon ever with the smallest planning team since likely the 1950’s.

    There were effectively 10 of us and only 2 in the core positions had ever worked a worldcon before.

    There was no time and we were too busy to do anything but “exactly what we needed to to to make the event happen”. Every thing that didn’t break the event had to wait.

    Normally all the documentation happens in the time you have free after things close and before the convention began.

    That time never existed.

    We made an attempt to get the voting stats done DURING the convention and despite roping 4 of us into it, there was no time.

    So it waited until we were recovered enough to do it.

    By rule, we have 90 days.

    This year, we need that time.

  7. @Brian Z – So far as I know, none of the Hugo or related awards are restricted by what months one wrote one’s works in. Many, many Hugos have been won by stories that took only a few days to write, after all.

    Baldree wrote a novel in a month that many people loved, and more power to him.

  8. It’s also not called the Astounding Award For Toiling Over A Manuscript for Months and Not Having A Twitter Account. Gatekeep elsewhere, Brian Z

  9. @RedWombat, well said. Nobody is going to love everything, but that’s no reason to harsh someone else’s squee. And obviously quite a few people really liked Baldree’s work.

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  11. Legends and Lattes wasn’t my favorite of the novel finalists, but it was fun. Its level of fun was not affected by being written in November.

  12. Everything Everywhere was in first place on exactly half the ballots in its category (454 out of 908), which is the only reason it required two passes before it won.

    (I was surprised it needed two passes, which is why I stopped to look at the numbers.)

  13. There’s no problem with writing a novel in November. Most authors know better than to publish their first drafts — no matter when they wrote them. The important part is what happens after that first draft is finished — the editing. (I’m pretty sure most authors are no longer adhering to Heinlein’s Rule Three — “You Must Refrain From Rewriting, Except to Editorial Order.”)

  14. I may be generous, but I was prepared to posit that many people loved the work of all six finalists.

    I’m aware the Lattes book is “cozy” and likeable. I didn’t have to read it to find out, because those talking points have been blaring at us from every corner of the internet.

    When 90,000 see one of the new writers tweeting thanks folks and 500 see another, when one is BookTok Sensation of the Year and another doesn’t have a slick agent or marketing department wise in the ways of cutting-edge influencer campaigns, it is time to admit that the dice are so loaded they are too heavy to lift.

    Last time someone won for a trifle of a supernatural saloon story, Spider Robinson for “The Guy with the Eyes,” I’m sure many eyes were rolled. But it appeared in print and arrived in the mail, yet rose above the others. At any rate, tied. You had to get past Gatekeepers before you reached that playing field – hence the old name of the award.

    If you don’t want Gatekeepers, great, do something new, I’m all for it. But don’t replace your Gatekeeper publishers’ editors with your Gatekeeper publishers’ marketing budgets and then call me Gatekeeper.

    If it’s going to be like that, just retire the award.

  15. @Brian Z–Remind me again, did Legends & Lattes beat out all the other, apparently more worthy, finalists for the Hugo? No?

    Was the winner the author with the biggest publicity machine behind them? No?

    The only thing you initially alleged against the book and its author is that he wrote it in November. yawn

  16. Every year, something I love doesn’t make the ballot. Every year, something on the ballot, in one or another categories, which I didn’t personally care for, wins a Hugo. And yet, in almost all cases, I can look at the work and say, “it didn’t work for me, but I understand why it made the ballot and I agree that it’s a worthy winner although it’s not to my personal tastes.”

    As an analogy, I love chocolate and I hate coffee, but I don’t think restaurants should take tiramisu off their menu and when a friend orders it I can appreciate their appreciation. I don’t say “why would anyone spoil perfectly good chocolate by adding coffee?” except in jest. I can recognize when it’s a well-made tiramisu, and deserves to be on the menu, although I myself would NEVER order it.

    Hugo nominators and voters aren’t fools, and they’re generally well-read, as decades of awards have demonstrated. The fact that we don’t all have identical tastes is a GOOD thing, or we’d have the same six authors on the ballot every single year, since nobody would read anyone else. Part of the joy, to me, of Hugo voting is discovering new-to-me authors, that I only find out about because a bunch of other people loved their work enough to nominate it. Sometimes I love their work, sometimes not, but I’m always, always, always pleased to have that opportunity to find new authors to follow.

  17. No, I said, if is going to be like this, please retire the Astounding Award.

    I didn’t comment on Best Novel. I’ll need to see the nomination stats to articulate my reaction to Tor occupying five slots so that it could claim, in the final Best Novel vote, positions #1, #2 (that’s Legends & Lattes!!), #3, #4 and #6.

    I mean, Tor is not making a secret of its strategy, as you see from this recent hire. Buy rights from authors with a track record of hustling on social media, then hook them up with a full-time social marketer who works with Tor’s other social media, publicity, ad/promo and sales people, and oh, look, they didn’t neglect to specify also working with editorial, to build integrated, and, here, again, they are explicit, “paid,” social media campaigns, “for trade and consumer audiences,” so again, they’re hardly hiding that they’re talking about awards. The wording suggests this is already true for all romance and for SFF it is being rolled out “on a per-title basis”.

    You maybe want to argue that at the end of the day, these practices are good for the authors, by which we mean the ones who choose to hustle and to allow hustle to be put in their contracts? Because it’s marketing dollars that could indirectly help put food on their table? But it’s not good for the community of authors. It’s not good for readers in any way at all, unless they are also “influencers.” I’d thought Worldcon wasn’t supposed to be in service of the big business groups. Or, now, the people that TikTok et al. permit thumbs to be put on the scale for and tiny slices of revenue to be portioned out to.

    Why celebrate this outcome instead of trying to make things better?

  18. Seeing the … remarks … about NaNoWriMo, I got curious and asked Ms. Google about novels written during NaNoWriMo.

    Other traditionally published novels written during NaNoWriMo include “The Calculating Stars” by Mary Robinette Kowal, “Trail of Lightning” by Rebecca Roanhorse, “Water for Elephants” by Sara Gruen, “The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern, “The Darwin Elevator” by Jason M. Hough, “Wool” by Hugh Howey — among many others.

    “The Calculating Stars” won a Hugo and a Nebula (among other awards). Did people complain that it was written as a part of Nano? Did anyone complain when “The Night Circus” won awards?

    Can we stop holding our noses at the concept of NaNoWriMo? Many of us in the SFF field worship prolific authors who wrote novellas and novels over short periods. Why is it OK for Isaac Asimov to write 500 books and bad that Travis Baldree wrote one novel over November?

    Why is it bad for a “cozy” read to win or be nominated for awards? Cozy does not mean “bad” or “lesser.” Cozy does not mean a book has no meaning other than comfort — or no themes or whatever people have persuaded themselves of.

    Sure, there are those folks who cry about the perils of “coziness” on Xitter or Bluesky — but that doesn’t mean they are right.

  19. To bring this back to the statistics a bit, I found it mildly interesting that while just 19% of those who did not rank Nettle & Bone first ranked Legends & Lattes first, a good 29% of those who did put the former first ranked the latter second—enough to exactly double its second-place first-round tally from its first-place first-round tally. That to me suggests a crossover appeal that’s probably worthy of a deeper dive than just whether one thinks “cozy” is good or bad.

  20. Brian Z: “I thought Worldcon wasn’t supposed to be in service of the big business groups.”

    I don’t think stopping Worldcon members from nominating tradpub books — which is how they, or anything else, gets on the final ballot — is a good idea. That darned democracy thing, you know.

  21. @Brian Z: ‘ “for trade and consumer audiences,” so again, they’re hardly hiding that they’re talking about awards’

    Sounds to me like they’re trying to sell books, which is hardly unsporting. I think trying to read anything about awards into that ad is a real stretch.

  22. If I weren’t still LARPing democracy, would I need to exhort my fellow Athenians to heed the dangers of moral decay?

    I don’t know what tradpub is going to look like going forward, but I hope it doesn’t resemble what Macmillan is getting into now.

  23. @ Brian Z
    That Tor ad is for a marketing manager for Tor’s new romantic imprint, Bramble. (They will work with books from the other imprint, but their focus will be on Bramble.) Of course they want a digitally savvy marketer for someone who will be marketing books to romance readers — because social media is a big part of romance.

    *I’m sure the very concept of Tor publishing fantasy romance will bring out screams of horror from some SFF fans. I will delight in their agonies as I continue to buy what I want. 🙂 *

    I wish more publishers — small and large publishers alike — paid attention to marketing. I hate going to publishers’ websites and finding bland sites. I hate finding out after the fact that some author everyone loves had a book out and that the sales were terrible because it wasn’t marketed well.

    No one should look down their noses at publishers or authors who market their books. In this market, it’s essential. People aren’t popping out to their Waldenbooks and finding SFF in displays of mass market paperbacks. (And when they did find them there, that was because the titles were marketed via in-store displays, ads, Waldenbooks newsletters, etc.)

    We’ve heard too many horror stories of much-liked SFF authors being dropped by their publishers because of low sales. More marketing will help avoid that. More authors being digitally savvy will help avoid that.

  24. @Anne Marble: ” that was because the titles were marketed ”

    Also presumably because the publishers were marketing to Waldenbooks to persuade them to stock the books, in channels that we as readers don’t usually see. (Hence the calling out of “trade and consumers” in Brian Z’s ad)

  25. Ironically Legends & Lattes was originally self-published and was such a huge hit via word-of-mouth WITHOUT access to a tradpub marketing department that Tor picked it up later. So Baldree’s initial success can honestly be said to have happened 100% organically without a trade marketing machine, unless the actual complaint is “authors be social media-ing” at all, which ship has not just sailed but achieved liftoff, soared into the stratosphere, broken into space, left the solar system, reached Alpha Centauri, and is now sailing on their seas instead.

    As for whether marketing is good for readers, all I can say is that there are few phrases that crush an author’s soul like “Oh, I didn’t know you had a new book out!” uttered after the author feels like they’ve done nothing but shamelessly promote their work for a month.

    Ninety percent of marketing isn’t “get this book an award!” it’s “please observe that this book exists at all, please, please, we’re begging you to retain the title for even five minutes, we know life is distracting, just hold onto the knowledge of this book long enough to get to the store/Amazon/the library, that’s all we ask.” And even with all the machinery of marketing, half the time you can’t even achieve that much.

  26. So basically we should retire the Astounding Award because Brian Z doesn’t get to control the ballot – and makes up all kinds of nonsense to “justify” it. It’s just Puppy-style nonsense on stilts.

  27. Not to detract from an otherwise perfectly good paean to a great cup of coffee, but that book’s history illustrates my point that editorial increasingly works with marketing to award contracts to the authors who hustle, not write, the best.

    Travis had a long write-up on his blog describing the process. He thought up a concept that was simple, catchy, and easy to understand and convey, perfected his marketing copy and taglines before he wrote a single word of fiction, then got the writing part out of the way quickly so he could focus on getting top-level professional work on editing, layout, cover art and narration. Bestselling pros promoted him and he got it plugged in dozens of places, all before publication. He says he paid extra for full rights for the cover art, to use for advertising and sell it, and experimented with promotions. He’s clearly very talented at publishing… I started to wonder why he didn’t just pay someone else to write it.

  28. @Brian Z: “He thought up a concept that was simple, catchy, and easy to understand and convey, perfected his marketing copy and taglines before he wrote a single word of fiction”

    I would have thought lots of authors plan things out before they start writing.

  29. Authors have not, historically, written a novel’s marketing and promotional materials verbatim before anything else, but the future is wide open.

    Travis did do things writers do. This ranks above Chuck Tingle. I liked “When the Yogurt Took Over” more, but I like fiction that breaks the rules.

  30. @Brian Z.: According to Wikipedia, “The Guy with the Eyes” wasn’t even nominated for a Hugo, let alone won one. Spider Robinson has won the Best Short Story Hugo, but it wasn’t for a Callahan’s story.

  31. @Brian Z: “Authors have not, historically….”

    Indie authors have not, historically, existed in large numbers, and as we get more of them they invent new ways of doing things (which, as indie authors, they have more of to do than traditional authors). Many of the old ways are dying (or have been killed), and I can’t really begrudge the guy for adapting.

    Travis did do things writers do. This ranks above Chuck Tingle.

    What’s your beef with Dr. Chuck?

  32. I don’t think that an Indie author doing everything himself can reasonably be considered “editorial working with marketing to award contracts to the authors that hustle the best”.

    Authors working to promote themselves at the behest of marketing is hardly a new thing. What do you think that book signings and tours are all about?

    Marketing will never win an award for writing without a decent work. Lack of marketing can lose it. Especially for a “popular choice award”.

  33. Spider won the Campbell on the strength of the first couple Callahan’s stories. He started winning Best Short Story, etc., several years later.

    Legends & Lattes is fine. Since the industry is transforming, how to honor various roles is an evolving question. I get the desire to give Travis Baldree some kind of award. (Best Self-Publisher? … though he’s stopped doing that.)

    Acting like it might have been the Best Novel of the Year hurt better books. Especially Indies. Putting the best writing front and center is the way to keep Worldcon and the fandom of prose fiction relevant. An entrepreneur able to punch above his weight is not the main target of criticism. But when Macmillan does awards promotions with a sampler tray of books (good, fair-to-mediocre), each of which appeals to a segment of the Worldcon-adjacent market, the good things that are not-Tor get squeezed out. EPH was ostensibly going to mitigate this, but it was designed as if for rival political factions, which was not the core problem. In any case, it looks to me like the problem is still here. It might get worse with the Tor fantasy romances Anne mentioned crowding more non-Tor books off the ballot.

    It will be interesting to see the nomination stats. I’d been rooting for Chinese fandom to shake things up. Oh, well.

  34. It’s true that an indie author actually following frequently touted advice on how to market their book is so rare as to be extraordinary, but it’s not actually nefarious. But the argument certainly seems to have moved from “but Nanowrimo” to “but corporate marketing” to “but a marketing plan” which seems more like an attempt to make the award conform to some particular notion of what a writer should be than a coherent complaint.

  35. @ Brian Z

    Do you really think that many Bramble books (Tor fantasy romances) are going to be nominated for Hugos (let alone Nebulas)? Most Worldcon attendees are not huge fans of romantic fantasy or SF. Even when they are, they usually enjoy them as something fun — and they aren’t likely to nominate them for Hugos.

    Quite a few SFF fans are already dripping with disdain for romance and romantic elements as it is. It has gotten better, but there are still some people afraid of “girl cooties” (to borrow a term from Debra Doyle). Even established authors like Lois McMaster Bujold got dumped on by SFF fans who classified her Vorkosigan books as “eww, romance” because some of them had a “romantic element” — even when it wasn’t the main element of the story. (Right, because Analog and Baen are the first places I go when I’m in the mood for romance. rolls eyes) Despite the awards, it took a while before her more “romantic” books got accepted by some in the SF establishment.

    But you already think those romantic fantasy books will make it “worse.” Whatever.

  36. Notice how he refuses to call Baldree a writer or an author. Instead, he’s a ‘self-marketer’ or an ‘entrepreneur ‘. It’s really kind of slimy. Not to mention denigrating Baldree’s writing assumes facts not in evidence. But then, what do the unwashed masses know, amirite?

  37. Anne: Sadly, that’s a traditional prejudice among some fans, like the guy who wrote:
    “When we want science fiction, we don’t want swooning dames…Come on, men, make yourself heard in favor of less love mixed with our science.”

    I wonder if the guy who went to some effort to get his science fiction into fancy non-genre magazines like the Saturday Evening Post got any guff for his focus on marketing

  38. Anne, you understood the opposite of what I meant.

    Bujold has won as many Hugos as Heinlein. But Macmillan executives aren’t making value judgments. All they care about is whether promoting their assets for awards makes them money, and how much more money they can wring out of it.

    Macmillan promotes IP that appeals to different segments of the market, and competes against things similar to it but not not as well promoted. This tends to push IP Macmillan didn’t promote off the ballot, leaving their chosen books standing.

    Supposing Macmillan sincerely chose the best Tor titles of the year without regard to market segment, and promoted those, there would be less publicity for their properties. It is in their interest to promote, not the best, but a spread of books that appeals to the full range of potential voters, knocking off as many non-Tor nominees as possible.

  39. @ Brian Z

    Sigh. I mentioned LMB because I’ve seen other SFF fans look down on her books because of the “romantic elements.” There are plenty of other authors who have been treated the same way.

    On a fantasy group on Facebook, I had to deal with a dude who labeled Circe and Song of Achilles as “romantasy” because they both had “romantic” elements. That classification is bonkers in those cases.

    Also, publishers are going to give bigger marketing budgets to books they think will do better — sad but true. It’s not just true of Macmillan.

  40. All they care about is whether promoting their assets for awards makes them money, and how much more money they can wring out of it.

    I would have thought all non-hobbyist publishers were the same.

    And I’m still waiting to hear what you’ve got against Chuck Tingle.

  41. @Jake: Some variant of this quote has been attributed to so many different writers that it’s possibly apocryphal, but the sentiment is undoubtedly genuine: “You can tell when you’re in a group of real writers, because all they talk about is money.”

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