Debut Novel: A debut novel (by a debut author) from any of the categories that is of exemplary literary quality. Unlike other categories, debut novels will be judged by the Advisory Board. Debut novels may also be nominated in their respective categories.
General Fiction: Realistic stories set in historical or contemporary settings that do not have plots with a central romance. This category may include literary and women’s fiction.
Contemporary Romance/Romantic Suspense: The romance category encompasses all romantic contemporary and suspense subgenres, with the exception of speculative romance. In order to be classified as a contemporary romance, the novel must be set in 1960 to the present. The plot must have a central love story that commonly ends in a happily ever after.
Historical Romance: Any novel set prior to 1960 that includes a plot with a central love story usually ending in a happily ever after. May include elements of suspense and includes all subgenres, such as biblical fiction.
Speculative Fiction: A story with fantastical elements (this includes science fiction, fantasy, supernatural fiction, superhero fiction, utopian and dystopian fiction, apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction, magical mysticism and alternate history). Middle grade and up.
Mystery & Thriller: Fast paced, action driven stories or mysteries, usually with a clearly defined hero against an evil villain. Includes cozy mysteries, police procedurals, legal thrillers, detective stories, gothic mysteries, historical mysteries, espionage, suspense, crime fiction, psychological thrillers, medical thrillers, and political thrillers.
Literature for Young Adults: Fiction books of any genre, with the exception of speculative fiction, written with a target audience of 13- to 19-year-olds.