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October 17, 2006

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Cynthia Leitich Smith of Cynsations

Do novels in poems fall under poetry or the respective age-range in fiction? Thanks!

Anne

Hmmm ... I would say go for the age-range in fiction. If it's wrong, the panelists will forward it to the poetry category (right, gang? Back me up on this ...)

Elaine M.

Cynthia and Anne,

I think we could consider using the in-book cataloging classification. For example:
OUT OF THE DUST is classified as fiction, but Jacqueline Woodson's LOCOMOTION is classified as poetry.
Does this make sense?

Carolyn Lehman

What about books published during or after November of each year? We haven't had a chance to see them--or won't--before nominations close.

Are books published in November and December 2005 eligible for this year's Cybils?

Anne

We're debating this very topic right now. Many titles published in Dec. '05 will carry a 2006 copyright anyway, which is what we're going by.

Next year, we may choose to enlarge the contest to include Nov./Dec. entries from this year, though we're encouraging panelists to keep an eye out for November books and make sure they're nominated. Another option may be for an author or publicist to nominate a Dec. book and make sure galleys or ARCs are sent to the appropriate committee before Nov. 20.

As for titles from late last year, consider this: books pub'd in July 2005 didn't have any Cybils contest, nor did books from Feb. '05. So it's not like Nov/Dec books are the abandoned stepchildren.

Next year may be a different story. The contest is still evolving, after all. It just stinks to feel like a Nov/Dec book only narrowly missed the cut-off date.

Carolyn Lehman

No damage, Anne. But it's worth considering timing for future Cybil years.

Many book award programs that are for a specific year deliberate further into the following year. This allows books published near the end of the year to get noticed, nominated and considered longer. Announcements are made in Spring and early Summer.

Others, like California Collection, include books published at the end of one year to be considered in the following year's awards. This has happened with one of my books that was published in November 2005.

Timeliness is good. But perhaps some adjustment should be made in future to level the year and get the best candidates in each category that we can!

Anne

I guess it's a measure of the Cybils' significance that you take it seriously enough to pick it apart. So on that level, I thank you for your critique.

But the idea was to get this up and running quickly to take advantage of the momentum we've been building. Bloggers are unlike non-profits or newspapers; we have no money for administrative support, no money for fancy letterhead or a professional press release or to put all the judges in one room or buy engraved trophies or to pay anyone to organize any of these things for us.

So far, I've gotten a single $5 donation, which pays for about a third of the domain name.

Most of our 60 or so volunteers are already hard-pressed to balance work, family life and blogging. We're already asking for 6 weeks from the nominating committees -- an eternity for most bloggers.

Should we have started, then, in January? Maybe. Or maybe by delaying until January most bloggers would've moved onto some other idea, and would have an "is she still pushing that awards meme?" attitude.

Or, just as likely, somebody else would've started their own version and gotten the credit and this terrific, creative group of volunteers would've found themselves on the outside looking in and feeling thoroughly cheated. And I'd be chief among them.

As for "the best candidates in each field" well, no contest can ever guarantee that.

The committee organizers are aware of the pub-date problem and will be adding some late additions in their categories. And, as I said, there will likely be some way to address it in next year's process. We may, in fact, start later in the year.

But by then, I expect the Cybils will be an established fact and not an experiment, and we'll have a firmer base of support to draw on. Planning may start sooner or the contest may run later or maybe someone with fundraising and/or PR experience will be in a position to help us.

In the meantime, we make do with what we have. And what we have is a terrific group of kidlit lovers willing to give up precious time for a cause that will benefit us all, even if a few books unfortunately fall through the cracks while we sort things out.

Thanks again for your constructive remarks.

Elaine Magliaro

Anne,

You and the others involved in the establishment of the Cybil Awards have accomplished so much in such a short span of time.
I am in awe of your ability to get this award site up and running in a matter of days. Nothing like this is ever perfect the first time. From my perspective, your organization and planning are about as good as it can get the first time
around.

Sheila Ruth

This has been an interesting exchange, and I understand your concern, Carolyn. But Anne is right that we are doing the best that we can to make this award as fair as possible for as many books as possible. I personally think that it's amazing that this has come together, and come together so well, in such a short time. That's due in no small measure to the hard work and planning that Anne and Kelly have put into it. It's to be expected that there will be a few glitches the first time you attempt something like this. After the dust has settled, we'll evaluate the whole program and decide what we want to do differently next year.

I also wanted to emphasize two points that have come out in this discussion, but that bear repeating:

1. Many books released in November and December bear a copyright date of the following year. Since we are going by copyright date, books published in November and December 2006 which have a 2007 copyright would be eligible next year, but not this year. Likewise, books published in November and December, 2005, but which bear a 2006 copyright, are eligible this year.

2. The rules allow publishers and authors to nominate their own books. So any book which is not in general distribution by the closing date could still be nominated by the publisher or author. And since publishers can choose to send review copies to the nominating committee members, the publisher can make sure that a late-in-the-year book is still considered.

We appreciate your comments. We want this award to belong to the entire children's lit blogging community, not just those directly involved, so feedback like this is helpful, not only for this year but in planning for future years as well.

Carolyn Lehman

Good discussion. I certainly didn't mean to pick apart or offend! Just wanted clarification.

I think the whole concept and the process is great and I am totally on board. My hat is off to the founders!

Anne

Many thanks for all the interesting remarks. I put up a FAQs that deals with the pub-date question and some others I've received.

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