Over the years, judges have asked about various facets of the eBook Competition. It seems that many judges have these questions. Entrants may also gain insight into how their books are judged.

We hope these FAQs are helpful. If you have a question, send it along to the Competitions Chair.

  • icon How are judges assigned?
  • icon What is the Preliminary Round?
  • icon How are finalists determined?
  • icon Who can be a eBook judge?
  • icon Why did the book I scored low win?
  • icon Isn't it hard to judge?
  • icon Can I still judge if I enter the eBook Competition?

How are judges assigned?

When you complete the judging registration form, you will tell us about your preferences for which categories you'd like to read, as well as your comfort zone with several content areas.

Sexual heat level: How hot are you comfortable reading? The range is from no sex at all, maybe some kissing (0), to anything goes (9).

Explicit Language: Same 0 - 9 range, from no bad language (0) to lots of cussin' (9). This area includes not only cussing, but also the graphic words used for body parts, and other language that might be offensive.

Extreme Violence: 0 - 9 range, from no violence at all (0) to. my eyes are bleeding (9).

Religious Overtones: 0 - 9 range, from no religion mentioned (0) to highly religious (9). These are normally from the Christian tradition, but other religious traditions may be depicted.

Bondage, Domination, Sadism, Masochism (BDSM): These practices are generally between consenting adults. If one of the practioners is not consenting, this is torture and should be included under Extreme Violence. It can include being tied up, spanking, and other pain or humiliation inflicted by a dominant over a submissive. Descriptions of such practices are normally only found in the Erotica category or in the erotic romances entered in the Romance categories. If you mark a sexual heat level of, say 3, and "Yes" to BDSM, you might be sent books at your preferred sexual heat level with BDSM content.

Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender (GLBT): The relationship between gay or lesbian characters can be depicted in any book, from a sweet romance, which would not be sexually graphic, to erotic works, where all bets are off. Any GLBT content should be marked. If you mark a sexual heat level of, say 3, and "Yes" to GLBT, you might be sent books at your preferred sexual heat level with GLBT content.

We do not read every book before we send it out. We rely on the information supplied by entrants for these same questions in order to match judges to a book. Sometimes, a book may be placed with a judge who finds the content uncomfortable. In this case, contact the judge coordinator (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or the Competitions Chair (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) to return the book. You must then delete the book from your computer. You may receive a replacement if any books are available that meet your preferences.

What is the Preliminary Round?

With the growth of the eBook Competition, there have been years where the available judge pool would not be able to cover all the entries. We needed a way to handle more entries with the same number of judges, while still being fair to the entrants.  In 2011, we instituted the Preliminary Round to address this issue.

In the Preliminary Round, judges read only the first three chapters of a book. The judge then scores the entry on several areas, pretty much the same way an acquisitions editor wuold evaluate a submission to a publishing company. To be award worthy, a book must have a compelling opening hook, characters who are real, a plot that engages and promises a great story. In addition, the writing and editing must be clean. The judge will also indicate whether the entry should move forward, i.e. is this a potential finalist, based on the first three chapters.

Each entry is assigned to three judges.  After scores are received, the Competitions Chair compiles the judges' scores and determines which entries should be eliminated.

How are finalists determined?

After the Preliminary Round, the entries go into the First Round, where three judges will read each entry in full. The judges provide scores on several areas. Scores range from a low score of 1 (Please let it end!) to a high score of 10 (Like Mary Poppins, perfect in every way). 

Each scoring form has specific criteria. For the purposes of example, these are some you will see on the General Judging form, used for the Fiction, Romance, Children, Horror, Young Adult, Spiritual/Metaphysical, and Short Works categories:

Plot: Is the story engaging? Does it sag in the middle? Is the ending believable? Do any subplots support the main plot or do they take away from it? Are all plot threads convincingly tied up?

Characterization: Were the characters compelling and well-motivated? Did they have distinct voices? Were they real? Did they act in a believable manner?

Setting: Does the story have a complete sense of time and place? Are descriptions evocative, drawing you into the world, or do you feel as if you stand outside of it?

Continuity: Does the story make sense? Are changes in POV handled well? Are there holes in the story, or obvious research errors? Are descriptive facts, like eye or hair color, physical or verbal tags, consistent throughout?

Editing: Are there spelling and punctuation errors, misuse of homonyms? Syntax errors? Awkward phrasing? Are these errors or conscious choices for characterization? Keep in mind regional spellings & dialects. Is there an overuse of dialect, instead of just enough to give the characters flavor?

Presentation: Is the book well-presented? Are fonts consistent, reasonable for the style/genre? Are pages out of place or misaligned? Is the formatting consistent throughout the book? The PDF version should not have any conversion errors due to the publisher's format.

Did the entrant choose the most appropriate category for the entry? ePublishers are more open to books which cross genre. Judges shouldn't mark a book as being in the wrong category if it's a close enough fit. A "No" indicates a wild misplacement, such as a book with a werewolf protagonist being placed in the Mainstream (F01) category or a gritty police procedural set in the 1950's being placed in the Historical (F05).

The Poetry and Non-Fiction forms will contain other questions, but all forms will ask the final question: should this book be considered a finalist? This is the overall impression the judge develops after reading the entire book. A book that is a pleasant read, but is not excellent, should probably be marked "No."

We give the judges guidance, and have tried to make the scoring procedure as objective as possible. But judges are individuals and their scores will range. The Competitions Chair takes all the scores and answers to the last questions to make the cuts.

The number of finalists in each category will vary, depending on how the scores work out. Normally there is a clear break between the top scores and the rest of the field and this is the first cut. Further analysis of the judges scores and recommendations may be used to further shorten the list.

Being a finalist in the eBook Awards Competition should be a meaningful achievement. We're looking for the very best in each category to recognize with the title "Finalist."

Who can be a eBook judge?

Since the eBook Competition is a peer judged competition, our judges are professionals in the ePublishing industry. Published authors, publishers, and editors make up our judging pool. EPIC members are the first recruited, but we welcome non-member judges as well.

The only qualifications, besides a professional affiliation, is that you love to read and are able to objectively evaluate what you're reading.


Why did the book I scored low win?

Three judges read all the finalists and score them, much as they do in the First Round. They rank the books and answer the musical question, "Should this book win?"

Based on the scores, the ranking, and the answer to that final question, the Competitions Chair finds the book which has been deemed the best in the opinions of our judges.

It has happened that one of the judges hated a particular book, while the other two judges thought it was the best of the lot. This is a function of the judging process and there's no way we've found to get around it. We can only take the data the judges provide and make the best determination possible.

Isn't it hard to judge? Doesn't it take a lot of time?

Judging in the eBook Competition judging process is actually pretty simple. This is a very brief description. More information is available in the eBook Judge Instructions.

The Judge Coordinator or, as we like to call her, the Competition Drone, sends each judge a list of assingments. This contact will include all the information you'll need. You'll download the assigned works using links included in the email..

In the Preliminary Ruond, you'll only read the first three chapters of a full length book, or the first 10% of a short work. That should give you a pretty good idea of the quality of the writing, editing, hook, setting, etc.

In the First Round, you'll read the assigned works in their entirety.

In the Final Round, you'll read all the finalists in the category to which you are assigned.

In the Preliminary and First Rounds, when you've completed your reading (either the first three chapters or the whole entry), you'll go to the judging form. You will receive a link to go to the appropriate form for the works assigned, either Fiction, Poetry, or Non-fiction.

You'll enter your name and email address. This is to give you credit for your scores.

For Poetry and Non-Fiction, since they have their own form, you'll just enter the title of the work you're judging. For Fiction, you'll also indicate the category.

Each form has a series of areas. You will score each area from 1 to 10. The method on our form is a slider. You can drag the little button or click on the line to get the number you want.

For Fiction, you will indicate whether the work is in the wrong category.

For Fiction, Poetry, or Non-fiction, you will indicate whether you believe the work should move on to the next round.

Fill in the Captcha.

Click on Submit.


In the Final Round, you'll read all the finalists in a category. Then you'll score each work according to the same scoring areas as were used in the Preliminary and First Rounds. The last step is to rank each entry.

That's right, sports fans! Only one form to fill out in the Final Round. Of course, it's a long one, but it's just one., Then you're...


Filling in the Preliminary and First Round forms takes only one to two minutes if you have your mind made up already. If you have to give it some thought, it'll take a little longer.

Filling in the Final Round form can take up to five minutes, but it's the only one you'll have to do.

Ready to be a judge? Register!



Of course you can!

Just realize that you will not be assigned any works from the categories you enter. 

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