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Judging Process, Rules, & Regs
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2018 Golden Crown Literary Awards

Judging Process, Rules and Regulations

While every judging process has elements of subjectivity, the process used by the GCLS Literary Awards has been reviewed and revised annually for the past ten years and has progressed to a process that greatly reduces the prospect of favoritism, influence or other undesirable effects. We continue to strive to improve this process annually.


  • Judges may be authors, editors, readers, librarians, booksellers, or other members of the literary community considered eligible by the Awards Administrators.

    • Publishers, employees of a publisher (this does not include IRS 1099 contracted workers), or any member of the Golden Crown Literary Society Board of Directors are not eligible to serve as judges.

  • In order to qualify as a judge for the GCLS Literary Awards, a potential judge must attend two live instructional webinars, provided by the GCLS, that provides direction / instruction on the judging process, judging ethics, expectations, how to use the judging forms to their fullest, and related topics. Attendence is tracked.

  • Judges must be well read in the genre as well as be knowledgeable about writing structure, storyline, plot, POV, and other critical aspects that make a book successful.

  • A judge shall only judge in categories for which s/he is not nominated.

  • A judge shall only judge in categories in which books by a partner or relatives are not nominated.

  • Person may be a judge for a maximum of five consecutive years. After five consecutive years, that judge cannot serve for one year.

  • A judge shall recognize that s/he may know some or all of the authors in the awards categories and assure that all aspects of his/her judging will be fair and impartial and that simply “knowing” an author does not necessitate a conflict of interest. If unsure or clarification needed a judge must consult with the Awards Administrators immediately for determination of conflict or not.

    • A judge shall recuse herself from her role as judge in a category if she feels she is unable to judge fairly and equitably due to familiarity with the author, editor or publisher.

  • A judge shall agree to adhere to the rules and guidelines of the judging process set forth here.

  • A judge shall agree to adhere to the timeline established by the GCLS Board of Directors. This includes electronic submission of scoring sheets for ALL books in the category/categories to which the judge is assigned.

  • A judge shall agree to read and score ALL books in the category/categories for which s/he is assigned, recognizing that some categories receive many more nominations than others; therefore, requiring a larger commitment of time.

  • A judge, who informs anyone that they are a judge for the GCLS Literary Awards, during the Awards cycle in which they are a judge, will be immediately disqualified.

  • All judges commit to being impartial in their judging, providing an assessment of each and every book, based on its own merit, and not on the merits of previous works, knowledge of the author, hearsay, or other potentially influencing circumstances.

  • Judges must complete a Judge Conflict of Interest form prior to the Awards Administrators sending out books for judging. This form is available online for review at under Awards. The Awards Administrators reserve the right to replace any judge who has not submitted the Conflict of Interest Agreement prior to September 30, 2017.

  • A judge shall not request to withdraw from the judging process after the process has begun, except in an emergency situation that has been discussed with the Awards Administrators, or if an unexpected conflict of interest occurs. It is imperative that the judging process is ethical and performed within the prescribed timeline.

  • If a judge requests to withdraw or has been asked to withdraw from the judging process after the process has begun, s/he agrees to return any physical and/or eBooks that have been provided. The GCLS reserves the right to invoice the former judge for costs associated with purchasing and/or delivering the required book(s) to a reserve judge to continue the judging process.

  • The decisions of the judges and awards administrators shall be final and no correspondence will be entered into by the judges, the awards administrators, or any other group representing the GCLS, concerning the judging process or final outcomes.

  • Judges who have served three consecutive years and have completed all their assignments in each year will be eligible to receive one free year of membership for the GCLS.

  • The judges will agree not to sell any copies of paper books or eBooks received for judging.


General Information:

  • The Awards Administrators shall administer the judging process under complete confidentiality.

  • Three (3) to five (5) individual judges will be assigned to judge each category.

  • Judging duties in categories with large numbers of books will not be split.

  • As soon as a judge has successfully completed the two training courses, s/he will be eligible to start receiving books already nominated in their category, and may begin judging, using the online judging form for her/his category.

  • When applicable, books will begin to be shipped to a judge, once the judge has completed the required courses and books have been nominated and received for her/his category. The last books will be shipped no later than January 31, 2018.

  • eBooks will be available to a judge immediately following the completion of the required courses and the books have been nominated for her/his category.

  • Judging forms must be completed for all books in a category no later than 11:59pm on April 15, 2018 – Pacific Standard time, at which time the forms will automatically shut down.

  • Judging forms will be compiled and reports produced via the online survey system. Reports will then be sent to the Awards Administrators for review of judging responses and averaging of scores.

  • NOTE: The Awards Administrators may, at their discretion, move a book into a more appropriate category. If the book cannot be placed in a suitable category the administrative fee will be refunded and the books returned.

Scoring Rules and Regulations:

  • Judges shall follow the guidelines set forth below.

  • Judges shall receive one clean copy of each book or one eBook file in their assigned category, and instructions on how to access the online form to score their assigned category.

  • The online scoring form is comprised of several sections containing a variety of sub-questions, which apply to the characteristic of the category being judged. For instance, poetry judges would consider openings, use of language, structure, theme, content, etc. Mystery judges would focus on openings, structure, plot, characterization, etc. All categories contain some common questions (initial evaluation, openings, overall impressions), but each category has its own specific sub-questions tailored to the genre.

  • Each book must be scored using the correct judging form for the category for which it is nominated. For example, a romance with a mystery subplot, if nominated in the Mystery Category, must be evaluated in terms of how well it serves as a mystery.

  • Judges read and evaluate each book and assign a point value to each question using the following values:

    • 5 – Excellent: Minimal flaws, a joy to read

    • 4 – Above Average:  Few flaws; Minor technical flaws did not detract from the reading

    • 3 – Average: Some flaws present; Needed further editing or reworking in key aspects

    • 2 – Below Average:  Needs improvement in enough aspects that the reading was not as smooth as it should have been

    • 1 – Poor/Unacceptable: Serious flaws; Needs such major revision/rewriting that it did not provide for a good reading

  • Additionally, there is opportunity to provide comment after each group of questions. The judges are required to provide comments that are explanatory and constructive.

  • Each judge MUST complete the online scoring form for each book being judged by April 15, 2018. NO LATER.

  • The score for an individual judging of a book is tallied by the online form, and then verified manually by the Awards Administrators.

  • The final score for a nominated book is the calculated average of the Judges’ scores for that book.


  • Determining the Finalists and Winners:

    • The number of finalists and winners in each category will be determined using the following formula:

      • If a category did not receive at least 6 nominations, it will be consolidated with another category to the extent possible or the category will be eliminated for the current awards year

      • 25% of total eligible nominations within a category will be finalists

      • 10% of total eligible nominations within a category will be winners

    • Tie-Break Protocol:

      • FINALISTS: In the event that there is a tie for the last ranked finalist position, there shall be more finalists than the calculated 25% for that category.

      • WINNERS: In the event that in a category where there is a tie for the last ranked winner position, a reserve judge will read and evaluate the two books in question. The reserve judge’s scores will be added to the totals of the original judges’ scores for each book and the scores will be re-calculated to determine the winner.


  • Golden Crown Literary Society Members, and not Judges, vote to determine the finalists and ultimately the winner of the Ann Bannon Popular Choice Category and Tee Corinne Award for Outstanding Cover Design.

  • Voting eligibility requires active membership in the Golden Crown Literary Society on the day Round One voting opens.

  • A $15.00 fee per book is required to nominate in these categories; however, submission of books is not required for these categories.

  • All nominations will be compiled and the Membership will execute a Round 1 vote online to narrow the field to a short list of eight (8) Finalists.

  • The membership will then vote a second time to determine a winner from the list of eight Finalists.

    • In the event of a two-way tie, two awards will be given to the top two books.

    • In the event of a three-way tie, a third round of member voting will be held.

  • The winner of the vote will not be announced until the Awards Ceremony at the Annual Conference.


The decision of the Golden Crown Literary Society as to eligibility of any book shall be final, and no correspondence shall be entered into in relation to eligibility, selection of winners or any other aspect of the judging or awards process.

The scoring of the judges, who will remain anonymous until after the awards are announced, and any decisions by the awards administrators shall be final, and no correspondence will be entered into or responded to concerning the actual judging or the judging process at any time.

Questions about any aspect of the judging process, rules & regulations may be directed to the Awards Administrator at

2018 Tee Corinne Finalists

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