Best Editor (Long Form): This is the first of the person categories, so the Award is given for the work that person has done in the year of eligibility. To be eligible the person must have edited at least 4 novel-length (i.e. 40,000 words or more) books devoted to science fiction and/or fantasy in the year of eligibility that are not anthologies or collections.
Best Editor (Short Form): To be eligible the person must have edited at least four anthologies, collections or magazine issues devoted to science fiction and/or fantasy, at least one of which must have been published in the year of eligibility.
Once again, the definitions are from the Hugo Awards categories page. The awards themselves aren’t specifically for editors of professional work as defined by the Hugo Rules, but they are, by their nature, most likely to go to someone for professional work.
Of course, both editor categories have historically tended to be rather a closed pool, mostly because there really aren’t that many editors who meet the criteria and whose achievements are sufficiently widely known that they’re likely to attract nominations.
So. Who is eligible? The usual suspects, of course. In Long Form that would include the major editors at the big 5, Baen, and the medium to small houses – although the small house editors might not be eligible if they didn’t edit at least 4 books in 2015 (good luck figuring out who edited which novel without actually owning it, and not necessarily even then). This is one of the reasons I personally consider the Long Form award in particular more of a “participation prize” – it tends to be nominated for and awarded more in recognition of contributions to the field overall. More on that topic later.
For the Short Form, people whose work can be judged are a bit easier to find: the editor of an anthology is listed as such, as are the editors for most magazines (print or electronic). It’s also easier to judge their work: does the collection, anthology, or magazine flow as a unit or does it feel like a disparate mix of unrelated things? Have they sourced a variety of voices or does everything have a similar feel to it? As for who is eligible, this is another award where the same names keep showing up year after year, partly because there are a handful of editors in the field who utterly dominate, and partly because there aren’t that many short work markets, therefore not too many editors who are eligible.
Both these categories have seen controversy since their introduction: first the lobbying to split Best Editor – the whispers say this was so that a specific individual could receive an award instead of always playing second fiddle to a very prominent (and very skilled) magazine editor, the apparent hand-off of both through much of their history between an extremely small number of people – so much so that it appears a group of Tor editors considered the Long Form award to be their property (just look at the list of winners…). Then, of course, we have last year’s No Awards overshadowing the achievements of all the editors nominated in both categories.
Frankly, without knowing who edited a novel, and without any way to tell how much the editor improved the novel (there are a number of Baen fans who do have this information for their favored Baen authors, because they are crazy-wonderful fans and buy e-ARCs, ebooks, and hard-copy. They would be able to see the differences the editor’s work made, but only for the books they personally own in multiple versions), the Long Form award becomes more of a popularity contest or participation prize. Still, if that’s what most of the people involved in the Hugo Awards want, so be it.
Don’t forget to add your recommendations for Best Editor – Short Form and Best Editor – Long Form, both for this year’s awards and for the Retros. Please remember to note the Retro recommendations so they can be easily split off when we collate them. As always, I’m not censoring any recommendations (or anything else) – if you get caught up in moderation hell, I’ll find you within a day or so and get you out.