Why the new rule change limiting how many books compete in the Whitney Awards?
Great question! If you’re unfamiliar with our judging process, here’s a quick summary: during the first round of voting, a panel of judges read every book nominated for the Whitney Awards. In the past, there was no cap on the amount of books nominated. In some categories, our unpaid judges have been asked to critically read between 40 and 50 books during the six month period (from late June to mid January. This burden has led to judges telling us it’s too much to ask.
We don’t want to change the format of our initial judging round. One of the things that we love about the Whitney Awards, and that we think really reflects our values as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is how few barriers there are to participating in the awards program. Authors don’t have to pay a fee to enter, so we don’t limit our participation based on socioeconomic status. Any book can be nominated, so we don’t limit our participation based on what’s popular. Any Academy member can vote (for free), so the ballots are not decided by those with more money or perceived status. These are unique features of our awards program, and we want them to remain that way.
However, the number of books participating in the awards has to be limited somehow, for the sake of the judges and the quality of their votes. Books win awards, but really, authors win awards. Limiting the number of books an author can have compete in the awards allows us to limit the reading asked of the judges without limiting the number of authors participating in the Whitney Awards. By asking authors to choose their best book per category, we still give every author a chance to participate, even if not every book gets to.
We hope that makes sense to you, and that you agree with us that it’s important to preserve these features that are unique to our awards program.
More questions? We’ll try to answer some of them here:
If I release books in different categories, can they all compete?
Yes! If you write historical romance and contemporary romance, or general fiction and mystery/suspense, or YA and MG, all the books can compete as long as they can reasonably be considered appropriate candidates for different categories.
What if I release multiple books in a category during an awards year, and the first one to receive five nominations isn’t the one I want to compete in the Whitney Awards?
When you receive your notification email from the Whitney Awards committee, let them know that you are turning down the nomination for Book X, and that you plan on accepting the nomination for Book Y. If you are worried about getting enough nominations by the deadline for Book Y, ask your friends, fellow authors, and newsletter subscribers to nominate it! There’s nothing wrong with requesting nominations. It’s a great way for your friends and fans to support you.
If I have more than one book in a series releasing in an awards year, can they compete in different categories?
No; books in the same series cannot compete in different categories. Also, if a book from the series was a nominee in a previous year, following books from the same series must compete in the same category as the first book. This is similar to how books in a series are shelved in bookstores and libraries. They don’t get split up! If you have multiple books in a series releasing during the same awards year, you’ll have to pick one of them to compete.
What if I release both solo-authored and co-authored books in the same awards year? How do I choose which one can compete without affecting my fellow co-authors?
Authors who have co-authored novels with other eligible authors may have one novel compete per distinct partnership per category per awards year, regardless of solo-authored novels or novels co-authored with other distinct partnerships in the category. In the case of a shared pen name, the pen name is considered a distinct partnership and may only have one book per category per awards year. Co-authors must agree which of their novels they would like to compete in the category.
What if I release books in the same category under a pen name as well as my regular name?
You can still have only one book compete. It’s up to you to choose which one!
- Whitney Awards will be given for the following categories:
- Historical Romance
- Speculative Fiction
- General/Historical Fiction
- General Young Adult Fiction
- Speculative Young Adult Fiction
- Fantasy Young Adult Fiction
- Middle Grade Fiction
- Novel of the Year (Adult Fiction)
- Novel of the Year (Youth Fiction)
- Best Novel by a Debut Author (for eligibility requirements, see 2.i.)
- Categories may be split if enough books in a subgenre are nominated. Number of books required to fill a subgenre category will be determined by the Whitney Awards Committee.
2) Eligibility for Awards
- Definition: “novel” in these rules refers to a work of fiction that is at least 50,000 words in length for the adult genre categories, and at least 20,000 words in length for the youth categories.
- Short stories, anthologies, collections, graphic novels, and other short works of fiction are not eligible.
- Word count is determined by the story material only, excluding front or back matter (such as acknowledgments, sample chapters, etc.).
- A novel’s publication date must be between November 1st and October 31st of the award year.
- The term “award year” here and throughout the rules refers to a novel’s eligibility year, not the year in which the awards will be presented.
- The award year will begin on November 1st of the previous calendar year and end on October 31 of the award year.
- Novels must be written by a member or members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
- Novels are eligible whether or not the author is a member of Storymakers, Inc.
- Novels are eligible whether or not they have been published by traditional LDS publishers.
- Accepted formats include e-book or hard copy publication.
- Self-published books are eligible.
- Re-releases, second editions, reprints, or revisions of the same novel are not eligible. Eligibility date is determined by the first date the book is intended to be available for immediate purchase or download from a retail outlet.
- If a book is re-released or re-published in the same award year, e.g. a revised version is uploaded to Kindle, the book that is eligible for the Whitney is the version currently available at the time the author is contacted to confirm the eligibility of his or her novel. This is the version that will be sent to the judges.
- If multiple versions/editions are available, the Whitney Awards Committee is not responsible for which version the academy will read and vote on if the novel becomes a finalist. Authors are encouraged to carefully consider when they make their book available and to understand that the original release will lock in the eligibility date and edition.
- If a book is initially released as an audiobook only, the book will then become eligible in the award year that an ebook or print version is first made available.
- Novels written or published by members of the Whitney Awards Committee are not eligible during the award year in which the Committee member serves (November 1st to October 31st), not during the specific dates they serve.
- Whitney Awards judges may not adjudicate any category in which they have a novel published in the same awards year in which they serve.
- Any book that is a finalist in any genre/age category and is also the first fiction book published by the author qualifies to be in the Best Novel by a Debut Author category.
- The number of finalists for this award may vary. In the event that there are not at least three books by debut authors named as finalists, Best Novel by a Debut Author will not be awarded that year.
- A previously published non-fiction book will not affect the eligibility of an author’s first novel for the Best Novel by a Debut Author award.
- If a debut author has more than one novel published during an award year, only the first published novel qualifies for the Best Novel by a Debut Author award.
- The nominator must provide
- The title and name of the author of the nominated work.
- The nominator’s name, e-mail address, and city.
- The nominator must confirm that they are at least twelve years old.
- A novel may not be nominated by the novel’s author, publisher, publisher’s employee, immediate family (defined as the author’s spouse, minor and adult children, and any relatives living in the same household), or any other party who has a monetary interest in the work.
- Nominations will be sent to the Whitney Awards Committee electronically.
- Nominations may be made any time between November 1st and October 31st of the award year, unless the Whitney Awards Committee chooses to extend the nomination period for end-of-year releases.
- The nominator may nominate each novel only once.
- After a novel has received five nominations, a member of the Whitney Awards Committee will contact the author. The novel becomes an official nominee after the author or author’s representative has confirmed the work’s word count, publication date, and other eligibility criteria. The book is then placed on the judges’ category ballot.
- If confirmation cannot be secured by November 15, the novel may be deemed ineligible. The Whitney Awards Committee may choose to extend the deadline for authors whose novels were nominated at the end of the nomination period.
- The Whitney Awards Committee may use its discretion in placing novels into genre categories.
- The Whitney Awards Committee may discuss whether to nominate any un-nominated novels. If they choose to do so, they will assign the novel to the category it best fits.
- Only one un-nominated novel can be a finalist in any awards category.
- Novels from the same series must compete in the same category in the Whitney Awards, even if not competing in the same awards year, unless a new category is created that is deemed more appropriate for the novel to compete in. The Whitney Awards Committee may use their discretion in making this decision.
- An author may only have one novel compete per category per awards year, even if writing under multiple pen names. If an author with a nominated book releases more than one eligible book in a category in an awards year, the author must select which of their novels they would like to compete in that category for the Whitney Awards.
- Authors who have co-authored novels with other eligible authors may have one novel compete per distinct partnership per category per awards year, regardless of solo-authored novels or novels co-authored with other distinct partnerships in the category. In the case of a shared pen name, the pen name is considered a distinct partnership and may only have one book per category per awards year. Co-authors must agree which of their novels they would like to compete in the category. If all members of a partnership cannot come to a unanimous agreement, no book will compete.
- Five judges will be assigned to each genre category. If a judge is unable to fulfill his/her responsibility and finding a replacement is unreasonable, four judges may cast ballots for a category.
- Each judge will read all nominated novels in that category, as directed by the Whitney Awards Committee.
- Each judge will independently rank each novel and deliver those rankings to the Whitney Awards Committee via a ballot provided by the Committee electronically or by mail.
- Each judge will make his or her rankings independent of the other judges and will not need to disclose his or her own rankings to anyone except the Whitney Awards Committee.
- The option of no award must be given to the judges.
- The top five ranking novels in each genre category will become the finalists for that category.
- Final ballots will be sent (either in print or electronic form) to all members of the Awards Academy on a date decided by the Whitney Awards Committee of the year following the award year, after the announcement of finalists.
- The Whitney Awards Academy will consist of:
- All eligible LDS authors. To be eligible, an author must be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and meet one of the following criteria:
- Be a member of Storymakers, Inc.
- Be published by a traditional publisher (not self-published or vanity press) within the last five years.
- Be a previous or current Whitney Awards Finalist.
- Other professionals and experts in the industry, including but not limited to bookstore owners, distributors, book critics, and media, etc. as determined by the Whitney Awards Committee.
- Judges, if a judge is not yet part of the academy based on other criteria.
- Exceptions and additions to the Awards Academy can be made by a majority vote of the Whitney Awards Committee.
- Former academy members who have requested to leave the academy must qualify according to the original eligibility requirements as a new member before joining the academy again.
- Academy members are not required to cast a ballot every year.
- All eligible LDS authors. To be eligible, an author must be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and meet one of the following criteria:
- In each award category, no award must be offered as a voting option.
- If the majority result of any category is no award, then no award will be granted in that category for that award year.
- Academy members may vote in as few as one or as many as all ten genre categories, but must read every finalist in a category to vote in it.
- To vote for Debut Novel of the Year, an academy member must have read all finalists that are eligible for that award.
- Novel of the Year (Adult Fiction) and Novel of the Year (Youth Fiction) will be chosen as follows: for each category in which an academy member votes, he/she will assign each novel a rating using a five-point scale that reflects the degree to which that novel meets expectations for an award-winning novel. The highest-rated novel in the five adult categories will be named Novel of the Year (Adult Fiction). The highest-rated novel in the four youth categories will be named Novel of the Year
- In the event of a tie in ratings, all tied finalists will receive the award.
- Final ballots must be returned to the Whitney Awards Committee no later than the deadline provided by the committee at the time the ballots are sent out.
- No final ballot may be opened except by members of the Whitney Awards Committee.
- At least two members of the Whitney Awards Committee must be present when any ballots are opened and tabulated.
- Committee members may be considered present for the purpose of opening ballots if they do so electronically (e.g. via Skype or other technology) and view the data simultaneously.
- The finalist receiving the highest ranking will be declared the winner of the Whitney Award in that category.
- In the event of a tie, all tied finalists will receive the Whitney Award in that category.
- All award results are to be kept secret, known only to members of the Whitney Awards Committee, until the presentation of the awards.
- The Whitney Awards Committee will not release detailed voting results to the public, either before or after the awards ceremony.
- An individual novel may be a finalist in only one genre category.
- An individual novel may be a finalist in up to three categories (one genre category, Best Novel by a Debut Author, and Novel of the Year (Adult or Youth), and can win in any or all of those categories.
6) Achievement Awards
- Outstanding Achievement Award(s) may be presented in addition to the genre and overall awards.
- Achievement award winners are determined by the Whitney Awards Committee.
- The achievement award winners may be announced publicly prior to the awards presentation
7) Whitney Awards Committee
- The Whitney Awards Committee will consist of up to nine members, including the Whitney Awards President.
- The Whitney Awards President is a member of the Board of Directors of Storymakers, Inc.
- In the event that the Whitney Awards committee president is not a member of Storymakers, Inc., the Whitney Awards committee president will appoint a liaison from the Whitney Awards committee who is a member of Storymakers, Inc. to cast votes on behalf of the Whitney Awards committee.
- Members of the Whitney Awards Committee will be appointed by the Whitney Awards President.
- The Whitney Awards President will be appointed by the Storymakers Board of Directors, on the recommendation of the outgoing Whitney Awards President.
- The term of a Whitney Awards President isn’t fixed, but is typically one or two years.
- Once ratified, changes to these rules can only be made by a majority vote of the Whitney Awards Committee.
- If changes are made to these rules, they must be reported to the Storymakers Board of Directors within two days and announced publicly within seven days.
- These rules define only the operations of the Whitney Awards contest for novels by LDS authors, and do not limit the operations of the Whitney Awards organization or the Whitney Awards Committee.
- These rules were updated and ratified on July 21, 2020.