All that was certainly true for me. I published my first story in 1971, which meant that I was eligible for the very first Campbell Award when it was presented at Torcon 2 in 1973. I lost (to Jerry Pournelle), but the nomination was a huge thrill for me, and helped encourage me in those dark days that all young writers battle through.
All of which is a long-winded way of saying that the Campbell Award is important, and I urge everyone reading this to be sure and nominate their own favorite new writers. The Campbell is governed by the same rules as the Hugos, so you can nominate online at the Denvention website whose URL I gave below.
What's that you say? You read new writers, but you don't keep track of when they first published, so you're not sure who is eligible for the award and who's not?
Fortunately, there's an easy fix. Just go to http://www.writertopia.com/awards/campbell and you'll find a whole website devoted to keeping track of new writers and Campbell eligibles. Check it out, and I'm sure you'll find some writers you've enjoyed... and others that you may not have heard of yet who you need to check out.
Then read, nominate, vote.
We have an especially strong crop of new young fantasists coming up of late, including Joe Abercrombie, David Anthony Durham, and Scott Lynch (who was a Campbell Award finalist last year, losing to Naomi Novik, but is eligible again this year). The Campbell does not usually draw nearly the number of nominations the major Hugos do, and sometimes only one or two votes decide who gets on the ballot and who doesn't... so if you don't nominate and your personal favorite misses the cut, you'll have only yourself to blame.