2008 Call for Cybils Judges

Hey all:

We’re once again seeking 80 masochists, er, volunteers for two rounds of judging.  Eligibility rules are tighter this year, so please suffer through this whole memo before jumping in.

If you don’t know what the Cybils are, please read the previous post. 



There are two rounds of judging, and two types of judges. 



  1. Panelists are the first-round judges.  You start work when nominations close on Oct. 15th, sifting through scores of nominated books in your chosen genre.   
  2. You’ll join a Yahoo! Group or similar list and use a database to keep track of what you’ve read.
  3. Although we make every effort to obtain review copies for you, you may have to track down some copies via interlibrary loans, or plop yourself on the floor of your bookstore of choice (though we cannot reimburse you for purchases).
  4. We have a 50-page rule.  Each panel commits only to making sure every nominated book is read to at least the 50th page by at least one person.  This prevents wasting time on marginal books.
  5. You turn in a shortlist of 5-7 titles in late December and then collapse in an exhausted heap.


  1. You must contribute to an active kidlit blog, podcast or v-log
    started no later than Jan. 1, 2008.  By “active,” we mean updated
    regularly with no long absences (vacations don’t count).  There’s no
    magic number of posts, we just need to see a steady commitment.
  2. By “kidlit” we mean some aspect of children’s or YA literature or
    publishing.  It can feature news, reviews, ruminations on the writing
    life, doodles, Deep Thoughts, etc.  But it can’t be, say, a Mommy blog
    that occasionally describes reading to your kids.
  3. You must commit to doing the work.  That might mean a novel a day
    for six straight weeks.  It means logging your activity and joining
    discussions.  It means forming opinions, defending choices and finding
    diplomatic ways to settle differences.
  4. You should also offer some degree of expertise in your chosen genre, as evidenced on your blog.



  1. Judges pick up where panelists leave off.  You start work on Jan. 1, 2009 and will present us with a winner by Feb. 12th.
  2. While we make a Herculean effort to get review copies to you
    extra speedy fast, it is UP TO YOU to make sure you read EVERY SINGLE
    BOOK ON THE SHORTLIST in a timely fashion.  We have plenty of librarian
    volunteers who can familiarize you with interlibrary loans, and there’s
    always that cozy spot on the floor of your bookstore of choice.  Sorry
    for the harsh tone, but it’s been an issue, y’know?
  3. You don’t need to be Super Extrovert Blabbermouth, but you should
    be willing to engage the other judges as soon as you’ve read 2 or 3 of
    the finalists.  Jump in there. Go ahead.  Please.

We’ll be issuing more specific guidelines for panelists and judges as soon as they’re chosen.

How to volunteer:

  1. Email both Kelly Herold and Anne Levy. Kelly is at kidslitinfo (at) gmail (dot) com and Anne is at anne (at) bookbuds (dot) net.
  2. List “Cybils judge” in the subject line.
  3. The body of your email should include an URL to your blog and
    your 1st and 2nd choice of genres.  Let us know if you prefer panelist
    or judge or no preference.
  4. If you’ve had any absences from your blog longer than, say, a few
    weeks, let us know.  It all depends on the reason and how active you’ve
    been since you returned.  We all need a break sometimes.

If you haven’t run off screaming yet, a few last words:

The contest is fun.  At least, people tell us it’s fun, and we don’t want to accuse them of lying.

We’ll be taking our time reading blogs, so please don’t expect news until mid-September, possibly later.

Getting rejected:
Please don’t stop the love if we cannot find a place for you on a
panel.  We’re not judging your looks.  It doesn’t mean all your
blogging efforts have come to naught.

But, yes, it’s ultimately a subjective decision who to take on and
where to place them.  Here are a few of the more obvious criteria, in
no real order:

  1. A demonstrated expertise in the genre
  2. A demonstrated enthusiasm for blogging
  3. A blog that has built a following (not necessarily a huge one—loyalty counts too)
  4. The blogger’s prestige (ie, you might be an award-winning illustrator, or have a Ph.D. in children’s poetry)

Note that prior experience with Cybils isn’t on the list. Not that
we’re mad at last year’s crew (who were all fabulous, of course), but
we want to make room for new folks too.  A good
balance of veterans and newbies is our goal.

Email us if you’re still interested. 

Anne and Kelly