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.