Two short list dates for the price of one

Our panelists have gotten to know the UPS and post office delivery folks pretty well by now; those boxes keep arriving packed with nominated books. Unfortunately, Santa’s got a lock on those same services this time of year, and anything stamped “Media Mail” is shunted to the back of the sled.

We find ourselves in a dilemma: either we’re going to rush to judgment without having read all the books (or give the late arrivals only a hasty look-see), or we’re going to have to weasel more time for the longer lists.

Yes, we need to rethink our reading period for next year. That doesn’t get us out of the current pickle, though, does it?

Our panelists have been combing libraries for many of the missing books and they deserve special thanks for their herculean efforts. Many are reluctant to push their deadline back even a day, especially since we’re all fond of that Jan. 1 announcement.

Our organizers have debated this for weeks, hoping that a few more well-timed deliveries would erase any need for an extension. With only two weeks to go and many books still undelivered, we
decided we wanted a fair awards more than a fast one.

There’ll now be two announcement dates:

  • On Jan. 1 we’ll still roll out the short lists for fiction picture books, poetry, fantasy and science fiction and middle grade novels.
  • That leaves non-fiction picture books, graphic novels, young adult novels, MG/YA non-fiction, which we plan to reveal on Jan. 7.
  • The contest will still finish up on Valentine’s Day, when we announce the winners. Yes, that means some judges get 6 fewer days, but most have given their okay on this.

This probably isn’t the best solution, but it’s the one that fits for this time out. We’ll again do a post mortem in March when you can kvetch about what didn’t work, and we’ll re-examine our nomination deadline and reading period, and even our outreach to publishers.

Meanwhile, we’d like to thank our many publishers—far more than last year, even—for their patience and support at their busiest time of year. We see each review copy as an endorsement for what we do here at Cybils and take none for granted.

And thanks too to our readers, participants and authors for their understanding.

(Authors—if you’re concerned that your book hasn’t reached us yet, please leave a comment here and we’ll check with our panelists).