Each year, the Horror Writer’s Association presents the Bram Stoker Awards for Superior Achievement, named in honor of Bram Stoker, author of the seminal horror work, Dracula. The Bram Stoker Awards were instituted immediately after the organization’s incorporation in 1987.
To ameliorate the competitive nature of any award system, the Bram Stoker Awards are given “for superior achievement,” not for “best of the year,” and the rules are deliberately designed to make ties possible. The first awards were presented in 1988 (for works published in 1987) and they have been presented every year since. The award itself is an eight-inch replica of a fanciful haunted house, designed specifically for HWA by sculptor Steven Kirk. The door of the house opens to reveal a brass plaque engraved with the name of the winning work and its author.
Any work of Horror first published in the English language may be considered for an award during the year of its publication. The categories for which a Bram Stoker Award may be presented have varied over the years, reflecting the state of the publishing industry and the horror genre.
From 2011 the eleven Bram Stoker Award categories are: Novel, First Novel, Short Fiction, Long Fiction, Young Adult, Fiction Collection, Poetry Collection, Anthology, Screenplay, Graphic Novel and Non-Fiction.
There are two paths to a work becoming a Nominee for the Bram Stoker Award. In one, the HWA membership at large recommends worthy works for consideration. A preliminary ballot for each category is compiled using a formula based on these recommendations. In the second, a Jury for each category also compiles a preliminary ballot. Two rounds of voting by our Active members then determine first the Final Ballot (all those appearing on the Final Ballot are “Bram Stoker Nominees”), and then the Bram Stoker Award Winners. The Winners are announced and the Bram Stoker Awards presented at a gala banquet, normally during the period between March and June.
In addition, Lifetime Achievement Awards are occasionally presented to individuals whose entire body of work has substantially influenced Horror.