Nominating Books: Helpful Tips

inspyLast year, the Inspy’s introduced a new panel of seven different genre categories. This was up two from prior years. Those seven categories are:

– Contemporary Romance/Romantic Suspense
– Debut Novel
– Historical Romance
– General Fiction
– Literature for Young Adult
– Mystery and Thriller
– Speculative Fiction

Today, we’re looking at the ins-and-outs of the categories and are setting out what the genres mean. The purpose of this is to try and answer any questions you may have about which categories potential nominations best fit into. Nominating can be a tricky business since most novels do fit into more than one neat box and by proxy, category. Ideally the best way to know which category is the best fit for a book is to pull out its more predominant category fit, element or topic and place it into that genre. Let’s get started.

Last year’s winning nomination for Debut Novel was Dear Mr. Knightley. This category fit this novel beautifully despite its multiple attributes. Let’s look a little closer at the possible categories it also could have been nominated in. Contemporary Romance/Romantic Suspense would also be a genre Dear Mr. Knightley could have been put into (and it was in fact nominated in this additionally). At the heart of the book, romance in the traditional sense is not its primary focus – instead its lens is focused on a now 20-something former foster kid, Samantha Moore, who is out to find herself. Would this book have deserved to win in the contemporary category? Probably, yes, but let’s consider this: the debut category was created to recognize extraordinary debuts – Katherine Reay’s novel was the epitome of that definition.

General Fiction is another category that nominators seem to struggle with which books apply. Last year’s winner was Wings of Glass, again an excellent fit. Consider what is driving the story – is it a romance or is it more about life’s choices and the results of them? If it’s the latter like say a book in the style of The Prayer Box or To Know You, these would appropriately fit this category. Another set of books that could also be put into this genre would be any inspirational (or any genre if you like) secular novels. As a faith-driven awards program we don’t accept anything that is amoral, however we’d love to see you nominate some of your inspirational secular fiction titles as well.

Then there is the YA corner which is a market Christian fiction is just now trying to break into and so far, some of the creations coming from CBA author’s either sounds promising or has made a splashy debut. When nominating your favorite YA fiction, stop and consider who it’s been written to appeal to. Just because it may have speculative elements doesn’t mean it’s best suited to our Speculative category – most YA novels have a definite “voice” that is for the younger audience. Krista McGee, Jenny B. Jones or the writing duo of Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon are a few names who have bravely traversed this seemingly taboo genre for Christian fiction. One example to cite would be Right Where I Belong, a novel written several years ago that, yes, could be placed in our Contemporary Romance category, but primarily, it was written to appeal to the YA crowd and for judging purposes the story is best served when considered among its YA peers.

Some of the books we do not accept are Indie published novels or books there were first released only in e-book format.

The goal of this was to hopefully help you, the nominator understand the categories better as well. Additionally it was meant to demonstrate how it helps the advisory board when narrowing down the nominated books to five per category – judging these books by their peers is the fair process. Finally, if in doubt consider checking sites like Goodreads or Amazon to see how they categorize a book or do feel free to ask us – and most of all, please don’t stress the nominating process. Part of the reason for these awards is to have fun and we want you to enjoy participating as much as we have enjoyed seeing that the behind-the-scenes run smoothly. If you aren’t the first nominator and there is a book you really wanted to nominate consider what other category it would apply and by all means, nominate it. But first nominators, consider which category best encompasses the story. Once that is done, go forth and nominate – nominations opens to you only days from now!

Have those lists ready! Nominations open December 27th.

2014 INSPY Award Winners


The INSPYs Advisory Board is pleased to announce the 2014 INSPY Award Winners: Contemporary Romance/Romantic Suspense: Barefoot Summer by Denise Hunter is the quintessential definition of Christian Romantic Fiction. The writing style is in a word lovely, with perfect pacing and wonderful descriptions. Barefoot Summer played like a movie in our heads. Denise created characters […]

Continue reading...

Author Interview: Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon


So thrilled to welcome Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon, authors of the young adult shortlisted novel, Doon.  Be sure to play along with Carey’s writing space ‘I Spy’ at the end of the interview and leave us a comment with the number of items you actually did spy! Veronica doesn’t think she’s going crazy. But […]

Continue reading...

Author Interview: Travis Thrasher


Thrilled to be bringing Travis Thrasher, author of shortlisted young adult novel Hurt ~ Book Number 4 in The Solitary Series to the Inspy’s blog!  As a huge fan myself of The Chronicles of Narnia series, I have a special affinity for Travis and his work.  We hope you enjoy learning a bit more of […]

Continue reading...

Author Interview: Stephanie Morrill


We are thrilled to have Stephanie Morrill on the Inspy’s Blog today.  Stephanie is the author of shortlisted young adult novel The Unlikely Debut of Ellie Sweet.  Stephanie writes young adult contemporary novels and is the creator of Her novels include The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series (Revell) and the Ellie Sweet books (Playlist). […]

Continue reading...

Author Interview: Shannon Ethridge and Kathryn Mackel

Shannon's sitting room where couples come for marriage coaching.  The 'counselor character' in upcoming novel Veil of Secrets is based on Shannon's work as a marriage coach.

We are thrilled to welcome two very talented authors to the Inspy’s blog today!  Shannon Ethridge and Kathryn Mackel are the team behind General Fiction shortlisted novel To Know You. Years ago, Julia Whittaker gave up two daughters for adoption. Now she must find them to try to save the life of her son. Julia […]

Continue reading...

Author Interview: Jill Williamson


We are thrilled to welcome author Jill Williamson to the Inspy’s Blog!  Jill is the author of the shortlisted young adult novel Captives.  Jill currently lives in Oregon with her husband and two children.  She enjoys working with teenagers encouraging them to respect their dreams.  Welcome Jill! In a dystopian future, eighteen-year-old Levi returns from […]

Continue reading...

Author Interview: Lynn Chandler-Willis


We’re thrilled to welcome Pelican Book Group author Lynn Chandler-Willis to the Inspy’s blog!  Lynn’s novel The Rising is shortlisted in the Speculative Fiction category.  Welcome Lynn!   Summary from Goodreads: A dead child that isn’t dead. A cop out of control. When their worlds collide, God intervenes.       What led you to […]

Continue reading...

Author Interview: Lori Benton


We are thrilled to welcome Lori Benton, author of Burning Sky to the blog!  Her novel has been shortlisted in the Debut Fiction Category. from Goodreads Abducted by Mohawk Indians at fourteen and renamed Burning Sky, Willa Obenchain is driven to return to her family’s New York frontier homestead after many years building a life […]

Continue reading...

Author Interview with Dani Pettrey

Book - Shattered

We’re thrilled to welcome Bethany House author Dani Pettrey to the INSPYs blog. Homeschooling mom of two and author of the best-selling Alaskan Courage series, her second novel, Shattered is a finalist in the contemporary romance/romantic suspense category. Summary from Goodreads A Thrilling New Romantic Suspense from the Genre’s Newest Star Piper McKenna couldn’t be more […]

Continue reading...