Home > Judging

Dear SDBA Judge (or  judg(ing chair ) to be),

Thank you for participating as a judge for the San Diego Book Awards Association!

If you want to judge (or be a judging chair), please click here and fill out the form.

It’s just that simple to volunteer!

SDBA judges are fortunate to undertake the duty of reading fully and scoring stories written by new authors who desire publication distribution as widely as possible.

As judges of their works, we have an incredible opportunity and obligation to provide the writers with comments and information designed to assist them in becoming better writers. The SDBA judge duties include:

Judge’s Duties

  1. Read the submissions in their entirety.
    • Writers create stories with many different skills, some better than others. Our scoring methods address those skills, and new writers have less chance to succeed if we do not fulfill our judge duties to the fullest.
    • Please read critically and keep in mind that as a judge, it is your responsibility to read and evaluate each book on its merit.
  2. Annotate books and manuscripts with comments intended to help writers improve their writing.
    • Comments addressing the book’s strengths and weaknesses should be instructive, constructive, and kind, but honest. Comments may be taken poorly, especially if we recommend the writer revise or delete a part of their work. The history or context of each entrant’s submission is unknown to a judge, and authors may believe sections are especially relevant to them.
    • It is better not to use harsh language and to annotate the judge’s form with thoughtfulness.
  3. Score each work critically.
    • Writers come to us and offer us their stories with the hope for success (especially with new authors). Their story may be remarkable—providing a written work intended to help others but, may reveal a need for substantial revision because of poor grammar, poor use of fiction techniques (whether a fiction work or nonfiction), and other deficits in the work.
  4. Provide comments on your judging form in a way that the authors will understand.
    • The comments are the most critical part of the judging form!
    • Many authors will receive a copy of your judging sheet. Please make sure your comments are legible. Authors understand that all judges’ comments should intend to help authors improve their work.
    • If a judge knows the author or knows of the author and senses a conflict of interest, out of fairness, a judge is obligated to recuse herself so that a truly impartial judge will provide the author fair and helpful comments.
  5. Be impartial when judging a work.
    • If a judge knows the author or knows of the author and senses a conflict of interest, out of fairness, a judge is obligated to recuse herself so that a truly impartial judge will provide the author fair and helpful comments.
  6. Do not forget to select your choices for the Geisel (Best Published) or the Chet (Best Unpublished) Award.
    • Geisel and Chet scores are based solely on high-score and judge’s referral. Submissions need at least two recommendations, as well as qualifying scores for the best overall consideration (in published or unpublished).
  7. Once you receive the books, there’s no need to return them.  As a judge, you keep all the books sent to you.

    A minimum of three judges read each book, and judging chairs average all submitted scores. The range of scores determines the order of finalists and the SDBA winner in each category.

    There is also the JUDGING CHAIR OPTION.

    Here, in a nutshell, is the JUDGING CHAIR duty timeline

    1. JANUARY – Choose or accept the entry category assignments (some have more books than others. so be aware of your delivery options/budget)
      • The category judges will be assigned during this month, so all you have to do is reach out to the judges and confirm their involvement
      • If a judge can not commit, needs to recuse, or is otherwise unavailable, please email sdbookawards@gmail.com for reassignment
      • Pick up the books for assigned categories
    2. FEBRUARY – Deliver the books and blank score sheets to each category’s judges (shipping will be reimbursed – media mail is recommended for initial out-out pocket costs) BEST IF DONE IN THE FIRST WEEK FOR OPTIMAL READING TIME
    3. FEBRUARY – APRIL – Ensure judges follow directions.
      • If possible, answer their questions. If unsure, please email sdbookawards@gmail.com
      • Keep in touch with the judges regularly – to ensure all books are judged in a timely manner (judging deadline is May 1st, leaving time for the unexpected)
    4. APRIL/MAY – Receive the judging scores (email scans are recommended for comments, but mail is fine as well)
      • Update the score sheet for the assigned category
      • If a judge is unable to complete their judging or stops communicating, it is then your job to judge their books and record your comments/scores

    Contact us at sdbookawards@gmail.comif:

    • You would like to change one or more of your genres or contact information
    • You need your evaluation forms printed (they will be sent to you by the Judging Chair of your categories)
    • You would like a certificate of participation for judging the SDBA Book and Writing Awards