You needn’t wait until the Bulletin prompts you to start preparing a nomination package. The documentation requirements for Fellows and award nominations are quite consistent from year to year, so a package prepared according to last year’s instructions will probably be usable as-is when the next call goes
out. If changes are needed, they’re apt to be minor. Meanwhile you’ll have plenty of time to polish the package and maximize the chances of a win.
Now I’m going to share a few not-so-secret secrets with you, First, you don’t have to know your candidate intimately to prepare the nomination package by yourself. In fact it’s rare for a nominator to work alone—candidates almost always participate actively by providing and even writing material, so don’t be shy. Your candidate will most likely be flattered and happy to assist. Second, you can be your own candidate. Admittedly this is not as satisfying as having someone else nominate you unbidden, but many Fellows and award winners either recruited someone to serve as their nominator or even nominated themselves.
And if you deserve it, why shouldn’t you do the same? Third, it’s difficult to be objective about a nomination package one prepares oneself, so it’s a good idea to have the package reviewed by a third party before submitting it. A former member or chair of the committee you’ll be submitting the package to is ideal for this purpose. These people have vetted many packages before and should have a good idea of what it takes to be selected. The current chair should be able to give you names of recent retirees.
Another point should go without saying, but unfortunately doesn’t: Follow the instructions for preparing the nomination package. The requirements for our Fellows nominations are especially well documented, and failure to heed them can cost your candidate a year.