How the Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year finalists are determined

In the past week we have posted the results of the 18th Annual EVVY Awards, which is the contest held by the Colorado Independent Publishers Association. Outskirts Press won 15 awards, the most among all participating Colorado publishers. Winning an EVVY is a pre-requisite to winning our own Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year award, now in its 3rd year. In 2010 we published a book called The Beads of Lapis Lazuli, by Doris Kenney Marcotte, which went on to win a 2011 EVVY Award for Fiction and become a finalist for our contest.  In the weeks following the finalist announcements, Doris engaged in some aggressive “author platform” leveraging and social media marketing efforts, which paid off — her book was named the 2010 Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year, recognizing the best book we published in 2010. Her interview is here.

We’re at it again. From among the 15 EVVY winners announced last Thursday at the CIPA ceremony, Outskirts Press selects three finalists. Those finalists will be announced next Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. And then the public poll (open to everyone) will be posted on Friday, June 1st at where everyone will vote upon the winner.

So how are the Best Book of the Year finalists determined from among the EVVY winners?  Since they’ve won an EVVY Award, a lot of the technical and artistic components have already been taken into consideration and recognized, so the three finalists are admittedly a more subjective decision making process.  We do not simply go in order of EVVY prizes awards (First, Second, Third) for two main reasons. 1) Each category of the EVVY awards are judged separately and independently, meaning a book that receives a 3rd place in one category is not automatically “worse” than a book receiving a 1st Place in an alternate category; the first category could have simply had a collection of a much higher caliber of entries.  2) Unlike the EVVY judges, we have more context to apply to our decision for the Best Book of the Year finalists.  We know the authors. We are more familiar with their writing career and talents and aspirations. We know if they have published previous books and, if so, how THOSE books have performed in various contests.  The CIPA judges take none of these factors into account when judging individual EVVY Awards (nor should they) but we do when choosing finalists from among all the EVVY winners.

So with all those factors in mind, we first seek the opinions of various people at Outskirts Press in regard to the EVVY Winners. “From among this list, who do YOU think should be the Finalists, and why?” We collect those answers and add those variables to our consideration.  Next, we look at the EVVY Winners in order of placement (I realize I just said the decision doesn’t simply depend upon the order of the prizes, and it doesn’t, but the order of the EVVY awards are taken into consideration), and from that order we basically ask ourselves, “Is there a reason this book should NOT be a finalist?”  For example, the 1st place EVVY winner, Opting In, is not eligible for a 2011 Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year award because that book was published in 2012 (which is also the reason we didn’t nominate it specifically and instead the author nominated it herself since she was personally a member of CIPA, also). It’s a great accomplishment and we love to see authors take their destiny in their own hands. Congratulations, Molly.

So that leaves us with the 2nd, 3rd, and Merit award winners to consider. Using the parameters and considerations outlined above, we arrive upon the three finalists.  And those finalists will be announced next week in preparation for the voting to begin on June 1. Stay tuned…