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."