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July 11, 2018 at 01:39 PM EDT

So you want to win an Emmy?

It’s not as easy as it looks. (Just ask The Wire.) Ahead of Thursday’s Emmy nominations, we’ve provided some answers some of the most frequently asked questions that are posed this time of year.

Just don’t ask why The Big Bang Theory, The Walking Dead, or Outlander have yet to be showered with trophies. There are some things that we simply can’t explain.

Who gets to submit themselves for Emmy consideration?

A program, actor, or individual who achieved something on TV between June 1, 2017 and May 31, 2018.

Does it cost money to enter the Emmy race?

Heck yeah! A program has to pay $425 to enter a category while an individual forks out $225. Fees are waived for the first entries, though.

How does an actor/show decide on the category? 

Actors and shows have to declare in April whether they’re doing a drama or a comedy. They then have discretion to submit themselves as a lead actor or a supporting actor, or as drama series or limited series. This is all strategic; where do they have the best chance to win?

Who decides all the nominees?

The more than 22,000 members of TV Academy. Of that group, there are 29 peer groups that represent specific professions in the industry.

So who votes for what?

All 22,000-plus academy members select nominees for the big categories like drama, comedy, limited series, variety talk series, and reality competition. For the performance categories, only peers can vote. The same goes for directing, writing and other areas of achievement.

RELATED: Get the lowdown on the Emmys with EW’s CHASING EMMY podcast:

How many nominees are in each category?

In general, there are five in each category. Exceptions are comedy and drama series — which allow seven — while variety talk series, variety sketch series, structured reality, unstructured reality, reality competition programs, directors, guest performers, and writers take six nominees.

So once an actor or a show gets a nomination, what happens next?

Actors submit one episode each for consideration. Nominees for best comedy or drama get to submit six episodes, which are supposed to be seen by all voters.

How do voters see this great work?

Since 2015, TV academy members have access to a secure online platform. Online voting opened Monday, Aug. 13 at 9 a.m. PT.

Who gets to vote for the nominees?

All eligible voters get to vote for the big categories while all members of a peer group (like the academy’s 2,200 actors) are now allowed to vote in all of the acting categories. They must cast their votes by Aug, 27 and, hi? Nominees can’t vote for themselves.

So when are the winners announced?

There are two shows. On Sept. 8 and 9, the TV Academy will honor outstanding artistic and technical achievement in a variety of television program genres, guest performances in weekly series, as well as great work in the animation, reality and documentary categories at the Creative Arts Emmys. That’s held at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles and no, it’s not televised. On Sept. 17 (a school night!), the 70th Annual Emmys will air live on both coasts from 8-11 p.m. ET (5-8 p.m. PT) at L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles on NBC. SNL‘s Colin Jost and Michael Che will host.

What’s up with that strange-looking Emmy statuette?

That’s a winged woman holding an atom! It was designed by a TV engineer named Louis McManus in 1958. It’s supposed to signify the TV Academy’s quest to support and lift the art and science of making good ol’ TV. The 15.5-inch trophy weighs 6 lbs, 12.5 ounces and is made of copper, nickel, silver, and gold.

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