Choosing contest winners can be as subjective as the publishing process itself. Sometimes contest success comes down to getting a particular manuscript into the hands of the right judge at the right time. While winning or placing assures that your work has merit, not winning does not necessarily mean the opposite.
Judges are industry professionals and/or PAL members. Where relevant, judges are published within the category they judge. The number of judges per contest and category varies from one to three, depending on the contest. Judges always remain anonymous.
Judging Across Categories
When judging contests that include entries from multiple categories (i.e. non-fiction vs. poetry or young adult vs. picture book), the winner will be selected in part based on how well the piece succeeds in accomplishing its goal for the target audience. In the event of a close race, judges consider which piece has the potential to bring more to the marketplace — to fill a hole in a category or to add something to the “conversation” of children’s literature.
Number of Runners-Up
After the first-place prize winner, the number of runners-up or honorable mentions depends on the number of entries. The number of places awarded represents roughly 20 percent of total entries or is capped at three.