#CYBILS2023 Early Call for Judges Opens Today

judge call june cybils

Yes, we are doing something a little different in this, our 18th year: we are going to have TWO Calls for Judges.

Since you’re here, odds are you already love books for kids and teens and connecting other readers with great books. You probably even post reviews of them so that others can get your thoughts about what you’ve been reading.


For many of us, summer means reading for fun. It also means we make more time for reading. Experienced Cybilites often use this time to make sure they read before applying in August. So why shouldn’t everyone?

For the Early Call, judges will be reading books in their category that sound interesting to them and that they think have CYBILS-worthy potential.



Category Chairs look for judges who read voraciously, share more than a summary in their reviews, and can keep an open mind at times when something in a book may not fit with their experiences or beliefs. There are pages on the website that can give you further insight into expectations and logistics. The Early Call is most akin to Round 1 Judging, with these exceptions:

  • No nominations (yet). Panels are reading lots of books in their category that will be eligible when the nomination process begins October 1.
  • No books. Judges will not be receiving review copies during the Early Call period. Neither is there a requirement to read all the books being discussed. Judges are responsible for finding the books that interest them.
  • No decision-making. Judges are talking about the books they’re reading, but in a more leisurely, book-club-style environment.
  • No record keeping. We aren’t using the database, so there are not profiles or book records to update.
  • Longer reading period. Panels will convene in late June to allow for reading July, August, and September.

IMPORTANT: Applying to the Early Call does not obligate you to be in Round 1 in the fall, nor does it require you to continue at all. If you are selected as an Early Call judge, you will not have to re-apply and you will have an opportunity to decide your level of participation (Round 1 or Round 2) before the August call goes out. 

Anyone in the book creation biz is welcome to apply during this Early Call. You can read more here, but in a nutshell:

  • If you created, published or market an eligible book, you cannot apply to judge in a category where you have an eligible title. Expand your horizons and apply to judge a different category.
  • If you have an indirect relationship with an eligible book (your neighbor illustrated a picture book, publisher intern, etc.), you may apply to judge that category. We do not know what books will be nominated come October. However, please let us know this information UP FRONT. Honesty is always the best policy.

Whatever your relationship to an eligible book, actively promoting it (recruiting blog tour hosts, offering copies to judges, and other similar marketing) is grounds for immediate removal from the panel and may disqualify you from future participation.


Obviously, if you apply during the Early Call period we hope you’ll stay on, but we also understand.  When you are ready, you can fill out the application form.

  • Only pick the categories where you are willing to spend a lot of time reading.
  • Be sure to have pre-selected some review links (any source: TikTok, BookTube, Goodreads, Storygraph, traditional blog, Instagram, et al) that go with the categories you want to judge.

The Early Call is, in part, an experiment to see if this solves issues raised by judges and chairs in the past. Please know that choosing judges isn’t a popularity contest and we will make every effort to fit readers into their preferred categories. We know that summer may not work for everyone, and assure you that there will be opportunities on every panel in the August Call.

If you have questions, please contact us at info [at] cybils [dot] com.