Author Judges vs. Librarian/Teacher/Child Judges
“I have never, ever served on an award committee that ends up with two books I had no role in selecting from the beginning being pitted against each other, so that one is the winner and one is the loser.” – “There’s something about idea of asking the authors themselves to engage in this sort of contest makes me cringe. I think it’s bad enough that they are asked to serve on the National Book Award committee, but at least their discussions there are confidential. And there is a reason for that.” — quoted from facebook comment with permission
Now I think further on this point, I disagree strongly with the sentiment that it is somehow distasteful to ask authors as judges of books, as if it is a cannibalistic act. Authors, hopefully, do understand the process of writing and the editorial process better than some of the librarians/teachers/others who serve on award committees. I believe that they also understand the difference between judging a book and judging an author. A book is an object of art — once it is published, no matter how much it is a labor of love and spirit, it is out of the hand of the author. To think and write about the book is not to think and write about the author. We are not asking our author judges to defame or praise their colleagues and friends in the field. So, I don’t see why authors cannot be asked to examine books critically. Aren’t they also avid readers and thoughtful thinkers of children’s and YA books?
Indeed, many awards are juried and given out by industry insiders, such as the Golden Kite Awards (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), The Oscars, and the TONY. BoB, of course, differs from these three awards since it is not decided by votes but by one person’s opinions each step of the way. And I do see how it can be viewed as brutal and arbitrary, and how some people might find this an unfair process. I don’t really have words or thoughts to defend this point.
IT IS unfair, I agree — but I want to ask and maybe some of you can shed light on this: what IS fair, then?