I’ve talked about this before, and with our 2019-2020 Reader Views Reviewers Choice Literary Awards in full swing, I thought it might be fitting to review the guidelines we follow when scoring titles.
So what do judges look for when scoring a literary awards title? Much like reading with a writer’s hat on, reading with a judge’s hat takes a different focus. Following are the guidelines I use when judging a literary awards title:
· Content. Does the author’s voice convey a distinct and consistent style throughout? Does the flow of the book draw the reader in at an appropriate pace? Does the reader have a clear understanding of who the characters are in the story?
· Presentation and Design. There is nothing more distracting to a great story than editing and proofreading errors. This is the easiest thing to fix or prevent in the first place. I can tell within the first few pages whether or not a professional editor has been used. An occasional typo won’t make or break the book, but consistent use of poor grammar will cost points in the presentation category.
· Production Quality. Is the cover attractive and appropriate for the genre and the story? Yes, I know the cliché, but a dull and drab cover, or a noisy cover with hidden titles and too much information can be a turn off. Does the binding fall apart when opening the book? Is the paper quality adequate or just so-so? I have a hard time concentrating on a story when the book I’m reading is falling apart or the pages are tearing because the paper is so thin.
· Innovation. To stand out in any genre, innovation is the key. Is the subject matter original? Does the author bring a fresh voice to the genre? Are writing elements being used in interesting and creative ways?
· Social Relevance and Enjoyment. For fiction books: Is the book impactful on the community of the genre? Is it reflective of important social issues? Is it highly entertaining and completely engrossing? Would I re-read this book? Was I left wanting more?
· Resourcefulness. For self-help, business, how-to, etc. type of books: Is the book easy to follow, clear and concise? Are credible sources noted? Does the author have credibility in the subject matter?
When I read a book, whether for pure enjoyment, to learn a new skill, expand my knowledge, or for a literary contest, I want to feel a connection to that book. Fiction or non-fiction, humorous or biographical, when I’ve finished a book and it lingers in my mind for days – that is the sign of greatness. Find out more about our literary awards here.