The nomination period for the 2016 eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBook Awards will open on February 1st. To help folks prepare to complete the nomination ballots, I wanted to share some of the changes we are making this year to the program.
Our virtual book fair and awards program is a labor of love run by volunteers. Each year, our volunteers donate tons of their time to help organize, plan, and run the event. One of the bigger time issues involves the validation of ballots for the awards. We process hundreds of nominations each year. Each ballot has to be manually confirmed to make sure that titles nominated qualify for the awards and are nominated in the correct categories. Volunteers also are responsible for narrowing down the list of nominations to select five to seven finalists per category.
While the majority of individuals complete ballots in good faith, we still run into issues with those who simply don’t follow the written guidelines, ignore our intentions for the awards, or otherwise try to circumvent the spirit of the awards. Because of this, we are always working to improve the process and streamline validation to make the job easier for our volunteers while making sure all nominations are treated with the attention they deserve.
Effective for this year, all titles nominated in the genre-specific categories (with the exception of Children’s Books) must be at least 40,000 words in length. We have also lowered the minimum word count for the Best Novel category to 40,000 words. The reason for this change is that the 40,000 word count is used by most of the major awards programs to designate a novel, and we feel the awards should reflect the industry norm in this regard. While this means that many titles will no longer be eligible for the genre-specific categories, we feel it is important for the awards to reflect the norms and expectations of the industry.
Effective this year, a book may only be nominated in ONE format-specific category and ONE genre-specific category. In regards to the format-specific categories, you would think this would go without saying. But folks who have helped with the validation in the past can attest to the number of times we have had books nominated in the novella and novel category at the same time, or the anthology and short story collections at the same time.
The bigger issue has always been in the genre categories, however. Too many folks simply either don’t understand the different genres or just want to cram their favorite book in as many categories as possible. But when the same book is nominated in six genre categories, it creates an incredible amount of work for the volunteers. We have to manually validate each ballot. And when a book is nominated in five or six different genre categories we have to take the time and figure out if it really belongs there.
I know some folks will be disappointed with this change as many books do legitimately qualify in more than one genre. But the truth is the amount of work involved in validating the ballots is enormous and we have to put the responsibly back on the nominators to make sure they are putting books where they should go.
Effective this year, we have eliminated the old special categories (Best Villain, Best Heroine, etc). Volunteers have always found these categories problematic during validation and when trying to select finalists, so we decided this year to remove them. We have also removed some genre categories that historically have had a low number of nominations in an effort to better streamline the awards.
Following are the Format-Specific categories for 2016, along with their format requirements
- Best Anthology: A collection of short stories featuring three or more authors.
- Best Novel: A fictional work of at least 40,000 words in length.
- Best Novella: A fictional work of at least 10,000 words but less than 40,000 words in length.
- Best Short Story: A fictional work of less than 10,000 words, either sold as a stand-alone product or included in another publication.
- Best Short Story Collection: A collection of five or more short stories written by the same author.
- Best Poetry Collection: A collection of ten or more poems, either by a single poet or multiple poets.
- Best Audiobook: An audiobook of at least three hours in length
The following are the Genre-Specific categories for 2016. Note that all nominated works except Children’s Books must be at least 40,000 words in length.
- Best Non-Fiction
- Best Roleplaying Game
- Best Fiction (General Fiction)
- Best Children’s Book
- Best Contemporary/Urban Fantasy
- Best Erotica
- Best Fantasy (High Fantasy/Sword and Sorcery)
- Best Historical Fiction
- Best Horror
- Best Literary Fiction
- Best Mystery/Suspense
- Best Romance
- Best Thriller
- Best Science Fiction
- Best Young Adult
- Author of the Year
- Editor of the Year
- Graphic Artist of the Year
- Reviewer of the Year
- Small Press Publisher of the Year
These awards are new for 2016. The Special Awards are unique for two reasons.
First: While are normal rules regarding self-nomination and nomination exchanges still apply, we are loosening the restriction regarding work relationships in general. This means, for example, that a publisher could nominate a graphic artist who performed exceptional service for the company, or an author could nominate an editor who went above and beyond in providing service. These awards are an opportunity to recognize those service providers or partners who have demonstrated exceptional talent, work ethic, and professionalism.
Second: Nominators are asked to provide a short explanation of their nomination in these categories, and have the option to share those explanations in the event the nominee becomes a finalist. Those that fill out a ballot will have the option of their comments being shared when we announce the finalists. We think this is a wonderful way to publicly recognize individuals who deserve special accolades.
The ballot will go live on February 1st. In the meantime, if you are interested in participating in the festival this August, please complete the volunteer form.