Awards Changes



In 2016, the GCLS Board of Directors commissioned an independent review of the awards process. Independent Review Committee ("IRC") reports were presented to the Board of Directors and GCLS Membership during the 13th Annual Conference in Chicago, IL, and the 14th Annual Conference in Las Vegas, NV.

The IRC proposed, and the Board agreed to, several changes that were implemented in the 2018 Awards cycle. The following reiterates and updates 2018 changes, as well as recommended changes for the 2019 Awards cycle:


  • Multiple books by authors and/or co-authors may be submitted for judging in a single category
  • Nominators can provide a link to purchase the nominated book. Links are added to the webpage where all nominations are listed
  • Nominators have one chance to correct poorly formatted books
  • Nominees in two new categories for 2019 – Humorous Novels and New Adult Fiction – will be asked to pick a second category in case the new category does not achieve the required six entries


GOLDIE judged categories are differentiated by four exhaustive, mutually exclusive “primary” groups:

  • Fiction Anthologies/Collections
  • Fiction Novels
  • Non-Fiction
  • Poetry

Fiction Anthologies/Collections has two categories:

  • Fiction Anthologies: for multi-author works
  • Fiction Collections: for single author works
  • These categories will be combined if either does not achieve the required six entries

Fiction Novels has 13 categories, including three subsumed under Contemporary Romance and two under Speculative Fiction:

Genre items for Contemporary Romance are identical, meaning entries can be combined and/or otherwise grouped for judging purposes:

  • Contemporary Romance: Short Novels (40,000-70,000 words)
  • Contemporary Romance: Mid-Length Novels (70,001-85,000 words)
  • Contemporary Romance: Long Novels (85,001+ words)

Though not identical, genre items for Science Fiction/Fantasy and Paranormal/Occult/Horror are “parallel,” meaning they can be combined if either does not achieve the required six entries.

All remaining novel categories have distinct, genre-specific items that cannot be combined for judging purposes:

  • Erotic Novels
  • General Fiction
  • Historical Fiction
  • Humorous Novels
  • Mystery/Thriller/Crime
  • New Adult Fiction
  • Romantic Blend
  • Young Adult Fiction

Categories with fewer than six entries will not be awarded a GOLDIE but will remain eligible for Debut Novel.

Finalists and winners in Debut Novel will be determined by cross-novel scores on “essential elements” and the final cross-genre item common to all novel categories—This GOLDIE nominee is a splendid example of high-quality books in the (GENRE) category.

Non-Fiction has two categories:

  • General Non-Fiction: for books of narrative prose
  • Non-Fiction Anthologies/Collections: for multi-author anthologies and/or single-author collections
  • These categories will be combined if either does not achieve the required six entries

Poetry has two categories:

  • Poetry Anthologies: for multi-author works
  • Poetry Poems/Collections: single-author poems or collections of poetry
  • These categories will be combined if either does not achieve the required six entries

Length Requirements

  • Anthologies/collections must have  a minimum of three individual pieces totaling at least 40,000 words
  • Novels must have a minimum of 40,000 words
  • Non-Fiction books must have a minimum of 40,000 words
  • Poetry must meet these requirements:
    • Submissions must be at least 48 pages long
    • At least 50 percent of poems must be new, meaning not previously published. Previously published poems include those that have appeared in print in any format (book, journal, anthology, magazine, etc.) or anywhere publicly online (including the nominee's blog or Facebook page but excluding critique groups)


Evaluation Instruments

  • Judges will rate all nominees on a 1-to-10 point scale rather than the 1-to-5 point scale used previously
  • Within each "primary" group, there will be a common set of Essential Elements questions. For example, all Fiction Novel categories will have the same question set that covers opening, plot, characters, style, etc. Each category will then have its own genre specific questions
  • To reflect growing diversity, all GOLDIE categories will include the following judging guideline: "These books must include significant themes, characters, situations, and/or other lesbian-oriented content--i.e., literary works about women who love women"
  • The number of closed-ended (scaled) questions have been reduced significantly, typically from one-third to one-half
  • Open-ended questions have been reduced from eleven to two


Finalists / Winners

  • At least six entries are required in a judged category for a GOLDIE to be awarded
  • The 25% - 10% Rule determines finalists and winners based on the number of category submissions
    • 25% of entries are finalists
    • 10% of entries are winners
  • Only one book by the same author(s) may proceed as a finalist in that category
  • If two or more books authored by the same author(s) are ranked as finalists in the same category, immediately following the tally of judges’ scores, the highest-ranking book by this author shall be retained and the other books in that category by this same author will be eliminated from the competition





  • Judges' names will be listed in alphabetical order at the end of the Awards Ceremony (unless a judge explicitly opts out)
  • Beginning with the 2016-17 awards cycle, judges who serve for 3 consecutive years and complete all their assignments will be eligible for one free year of membership of the GCLS (currently US$30 in value)



2020 Tee Corinne Finalists

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