Judging FAQs

Who can be a eBook judge?

Since the eBook Competition is a peer judged competition, our judges are professionals in the ePublishing industry. Published authors, publishers, and editors make up our judging pool. EPIC members are the first recruited, but we welcome non-member judges as well.

The only qualifications, besides a professional affiliation, is that you love to read and are able to objectively evaluate what you're reading.


How are finalists determined?

After the Preliminary Round, the entries go into the First Round, where three judges will read each entry in full. The judges provide scores on several areas. Scores range from a low score of 1 (Please let it end!) to a high score of 10 (Like Mary Poppins, perfect in every way). 

Each scoring form has specific criteria. For the purposes of example, these are some you will see on the General Judging form, used for the Fiction, Romance, Children, Horror, Young Adult, Spiritual/Metaphysical, and Short Works categories:

Plot: Is the story engaging? Does it sag in the middle? Is the ending believable? Do any subplots support the main plot or do they take away from it? Are all plot threads convincingly tied up?

Characterization: Were the characters compelling and well-motivated? Did they have distinct voices? Were they real? Did they act in a believable manner?

Setting: Does the story have a complete sense of time and place? Are descriptions evocative, drawing you into the world, or do you feel as if you stand outside of it?

Continuity: Does the story make sense? Are changes in POV handled well? Are there holes in the story, or obvious research errors? Are descriptive facts, like eye or hair color, physical or verbal tags, consistent throughout?

Editing: Are there spelling and punctuation errors, misuse of homonyms? Syntax errors? Awkward phrasing? Are these errors or conscious choices for characterization? Keep in mind regional spellings & dialects. Is there an overuse of dialect, instead of just enough to give the characters flavor?

Presentation: Is the book well-presented? Are fonts consistent, reasonable for the style/genre? Are pages out of place or misaligned? Is the formatting consistent throughout the book? The PDF version should not have any conversion errors due to the publisher's format.

Did the entrant choose the most appropriate category for the entry? ePublishers are more open to books which cross genre. Judges shouldn't mark a book as being in the wrong category if it's a close enough fit. A "No" indicates a wild misplacement, such as a book with a werewolf protagonist being placed in the Mainstream (F01) category or a gritty police procedural set in the 1950's being placed in the Historical (F05).

The Poetry and Non-Fiction forms will contain other questions, but all forms will ask the final question: should this book be considered a finalist? This is the overall impression the judge develops after reading the entire book. A book that is a pleasant read, but is not excellent, should probably be marked "No."

We give the judges guidance, and have tried to make the scoring procedure as objective as possible. But judges are individuals and their scores will range. The Competitions Chair takes all the scores and answers to the last questions to make the cuts.

The number of finalists in each category will vary, depending on how the scores work out. Normally there is a clear break between the top scores and the rest of the field and this is the first cut. Further analysis of the judges scores and recommendations may be used to further shorten the list.

Being a finalist in the eBook Awards Competition should be a meaningful achievement. We're looking for the very best in each category to recognize with the title "Finalist."

What is the Preliminary Round?

With the growth of the eBook Competition, there have been years where the available judge pool would not be able to cover all the entries. We needed a way to handle more entries with the same number of judges, while still being fair to the entrants.  In 2011, we instituted the Preliminary Round to address this issue.

In the Preliminary Round, judges read only the first three chapters of a book. The judge then scores the entry on several areas, pretty much the same way an acquisitions editor wuold evaluate a submission to a publishing company. To be award worthy, a book must have a compelling opening hook, characters who are real, a plot that engages and promises a great story. In addition, the writing and editing must be clean. The judge will also indicate whether the entry should move forward, i.e. is this a potential finalist, based on the first three chapters.

Each entry is assigned to three judges.  After scores are received, the Competitions Chair compiles the judges' scores and determines which entries should be eliminated.

How are judges assigned?

When you complete the judging registration form, you will tell us about your preferences for which categories you'd like to read, as well as your comfort zone with several content areas.

Sexual heat level: How hot are you comfortable reading? The range is from no sex at all, maybe some kissing (0), to anything goes (9).

Explicit Language: Same 0 - 9 range, from no bad language (0) to lots of cussin' (9). This area includes not only cussing, but also the graphic words used for body parts, and other language that might be offensive.

Extreme Violence: 0 - 9 range, from no violence at all (0) to. my eyes are bleeding (9).

Religious Overtones: 0 - 9 range, from no religion mentioned (0) to highly religious (9). These are normally from the Christian tradition, but other religious traditions may be depicted.

Bondage, Domination, Sadism, Masochism (BDSM): These practices are generally between consenting adults. If one of the practioners is not consenting, this is torture and should be included under Extreme Violence. It can include being tied up, spanking, and other pain or humiliation inflicted by a dominant over a submissive. Descriptions of such practices are normally only found in the Erotica category or in the erotic romances entered in the Romance categories. If you mark a sexual heat level of, say 3, and "Yes" to BDSM, you might be sent books at your preferred sexual heat level with BDSM content.

Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender (GLBT): The relationship between gay or lesbian characters can be depicted in any book, from a sweet romance, which would not be sexually graphic, to erotic works, where all bets are off. Any GLBT content should be marked. If you mark a sexual heat level of, say 3, and "Yes" to GLBT, you might be sent books at your preferred sexual heat level with GLBT content.

We do not read every book before we send it out. We rely on the information supplied by entrants for these same questions in order to match judges to a book. Sometimes, a book may be placed with a judge who finds the content uncomfortable. In this case, contact the judge coordinator (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or the Competitions Chair (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) to return the book. You must then delete the book from your computer. You may receive a replacement if any books are available that meet your preferences.

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