It’s October already! The holidays are upon us and for our reviewers at Reader Views that also means lots and lots of reading as the 2017-2018 Reader Views Literary Awards program is open for submissions and in full swing. Just a couple things to note that are new for this year:
· We’ve extended the entry deadline to December 31st to accommodate all 2017 copyright books
· Our early bird registration discount is extended to October 31st.
So what do judges look for when scoring a literary awards title? Reading with my judge’s hat on is different than reading for leisure. I need to be able to evaluate the work through several different and specific aspects of the book, and thus must be on the lookout for, and pay attention to those details. Following are the guidelines I use when judging a literary awards title:
· Content. Content of course, is critical. 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. I’ve said this before; 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 cause me to close the book for good.
· 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. It’s no surprise there is a lot of competition out there in the writing world, now so more than ever. 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. Be it 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. Happy holidays everyone and happy reading!