I found out I was shortlisted for Most Eclectic Taste shortly before getting on a plane and heading back to Germany, so I was unable to immediately react and express my excitement. After being nominated for a flurry of awards in the initial stage, I am of course thrilled that at least one stuck.
So…do I fit the category? Does my blog? I like to think I have eclectic taste – I generally won’t turn down a great book just because it is in a genre I don’t usually read and I have been actively seeking out reads from less frequented genres as well.
These are the posts (all reviews) that I submitted for the category that reflect a range of genres from humor, speculative fiction, short story collections, non-fiction, children’s picture books, paranormal romance and literary fiction. I could have also chosen to highlight reviews of historical fiction, Christian fiction, health & beauty, or mystery and thrillers. It’s true that while my focus is YA and literary fiction, you never know what genre might pop up on my blog.
Short stories and non-fiction (marketing/business)
Children's picture books and non-fiction (oceanography/science)
YA realistic fiction
So am I the book blogger with the most eclectic taste? Now it is up to you decide – go to the BBAW awards voting booth now!
And now for some confessions of a BBAW panelist....
I’ve gotten a number of mails expressing outrage and disappointment that I didn’t make the best YA blog shortlist like I did last year and complaining about some of the ones that did. While I’m flattered that you all care so much, I don’t think anyone needs to “boycott BBAW” because of it.
First of all, BBAW is NOT just about the awards, which are just a tiny part of the whole celebration (check out the BBAW blog for all the events that will be going on and ways you can get involved).
Secondly, the 5 blogs that did shortlist in the YA category are all solid, deserving blogs that I read regularly and enjoy a great deal. Yes, my personal shortlist would be pretty different, but this a community process, and the community has spoken.
Thirdly, the fact I didn’t make this particular shortlist is my own fault. How? I simply ended up chosing the wrong links to submit – my chosen 5 were too long (most likely exasperating an already tired panelist), 4 out of the 5 were book reviews (perhaps perceived as not diverse enough), and none included pictures or video other than the book cover (probably earning a deduction).
I realized this as I was reading through the posts submitted in the panels I was judging and going through the line item scoring. You see, I submitted links not realizing the sheer amount of work the BBAW awards would turn out to be for the volunteers involved (way more than any of us on the awards committee ever bargained for – or we would have set it up differently, I assure you). In order to carefully read through every post submitted in most categories, BBAW awards panelists would have needed DAYS of reading blogs – time that most of us just did not have. Add the fact that some panelists were on more than one panel (I was on three, chairing one), and you get an idea of the immensity of the project.
And so, judges needed to skim at times and to develop shortcuts. Now, I don’t speak for any of the other panelists of course, but I can tell you a few of my own coping mechanisms.
For line items with a scoring value of 10 (such as quality of writing, originality, diversity of content, and fresh perspective) I assumed a start value of 7 (indicating an average blog). If a blog struck me as particularly good (or bad), I would add (or deduct points).
I also had a few automatic deductions. For example, if a blogger used the publisher summary in a book review instead of writing their own, I took off points for originality. If the summary went more than a paragraph, I deducted points off for not being concise. If the background of a blog was black or another dark (or too bright color), I could not say it was “easy on the eyes”.
I know there have been some complaints about nominated blogs not seeming to fit the category they were nominated in. Based on the line item scoring of 5 eligible posts, there was no way to disqualify blogs which submitted 5 posts that fulfilled the category requirements even if their focus lies elsewhere.
This is obviously not how every panelist approached judging, but I hope it shows what a time-consuming task it was and how we tried our best to be fair and consistent across judging. The system certainly wasn’t perfect, but I think we did end up with a fairly representative cross sample of the amazing book blogs that are out there. I bet by visiting some of the shortlisted blogs, you will find some new favorites. I know I did. And if you have any specific recommendations for how the awards process might be improved for next year, the awards committee welcomes your input. There will be a form at the end of BBAW that you can fill out, or if you need to get it off your chest now, feel free to e-mail me (lenoreva at hotmail dot com), Amy, or anyone on the 2009 awards committee.
PS: For more insight into the judging process, see this fab post over at the Book Smugglers.