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2025 Golden Crown Literary Awards

Judging Process, Rules and Regulations


While every judging process has elements of subjectivity, the process used by the GCLS Literary Awards has been reviewed and revised annually for the past 19 years and has progressed to a process that greatly reduces the prospect of favoritism, influence, or other undesirable effects. We continue to strive to improve this process annually.



  • Judges may be authors, editors, readers, librarians, booksellers, and/or other members of the literary community considered eligible by the Awards Administrators.

  • Publishers, full-time employees of a publisher (this does not include IRS 1099 contracted workers), and/or members of the Golden Crown Literary Society Board of Directors are not eligible to serve as judges.

  • In order to qualify as a judge for the GCLS Literary Awards, a potential judge must 2 trainings videos and complete a short quiz, provided by the GCLS, that include direction/instruction on the judging process, judging ethics, expectations, how to use the judging forms to their fullest, and related topics. Attendance is tracked.

  • Judges must be well-read in the genre as well as be knowledgeable about writing structure, storyline, plot, and other critical aspects that make a book successful. These and other aspects of good writing will be discussed during judges’ training.

  • A judge shall only judge in categories for which they are not nominated.

  • Authors may not serve as judge in the Audiobook Narrator category if an edition of their book is nominated in the same year.

  • A judge shall only judge in categories in which books by a partner or family members are not nominated.

  • A judge shall recognize that they may know some or all of the authors in the awards categories but will assure that all aspects of judging will be fair and impartial. Simply “knowing” an author does not necessitate a conflict of interest. If unsure or clarification is needed, a judge must consult with the Awards Administrators immediately for the determination of conflict or not.

  • A judge shall recuse themself from their role as judge in a category if they feel they are unable to judge fairly and equitably due to familiarity with the author, editor, or publisher.

  • A judge shall agree to adhere to the rules and guidelines of the judging process set forth here.

  • A judge shall agree to adhere to the timeline established by the GCLS Board of Directors. This includes electronic submission of scoring sheets for ALL books/audiobooks in the category/categories to which the judge is assigned.

  • A judge shall agree to read and score ALL books/audiobooks in the category/categories for which they are assigned, recognizing that some categories receive many more nominations than others; therefore, requiring a larger commitment of time.

  • A judge who informs anyone that they are a judge for the GCLS Literary Awards during the Awards cycle in which they are a judge will be immediately disqualified.

  • All judges commit to being impartial in their judging, providing an assessment of each and every book/audiobook, based on its own merit, and not on the merits of previous works, knowledge of the author/narrator, hearsay, or other potentially influencing circumstances.

  • Judges must complete the Judges' Agreement prior to the Awards Administrators sending out books/audiobooks for judging. This form is available online for review at https://goldencrown.secure-platform.com/a/page/judging/agreement. The Awards Administrators reserve the right to replace any judge who has not submitted the Agreement prior to September 30, 2022.

  • A judge shall not request to withdraw from the judging process after the process has begun, except in an emergency situation that has been discussed with the Awards Administrators, or if an unexpected conflict of interest occurs. It is imperative that the judging process is ethical and performed within the prescribed timeline.

  • If a judge requests to withdraw or has been asked to withdraw from the judging process after the process has begun, they agree to return any physical books that have been provided. The GCLS reserves the right to invoice the former judge for costs associated with purchasing and/or delivering the required book(s) to a reserve judge to continue the judging process.

  • The decisions of the judges and awards administrators shall be final and no correspondence will be entered into by the judges, the awards administrators, or any other group representing the GCLS, concerning the judging process or final outcomes.

  • The judges will agree not to sell any copies of paper books, ebooks, or audiobooks received for judging.



General Information:

  • The Awards Administrators shall administer the judging process under complete confidentiality.

  • At least three (3) to five (5) individual judges - minimum - will be assigned to judge each category.

  • Judging duties in categories with large numbers of books/audiobooks will not be split.

  • The Awards Administrators may, at their discretion, move a book into a more appropriate category. If the book cannot be placed in a suitable category, the administrative fee will be refunded and physical books returned.

  • A judge will inform the Awards Administrators immediately if they believe an entry does not fit in the assigned category and should be moved elsewhere. If the entry remains in the category, they will judge the entry without prejudice, even if they disagree with the decision.

  • As soon as a judge has successfully completed the two training courses, they will be eligible to start receiving books/audiobooks already nominated in their category and may begin judging, using the online judging form for their category.

  • When applicable, books will begin to be shipped to a judge, once the judge has completed the required courses and books have been nominated and received for their category. The last books will be shipped no later than January 31, 2024.

  • Ebooks will be available to a judge immediately following the completion of the required courses and the books have been nominated for their category.

  • Audiobooks will be available to a judge immediately following the completion of the required courses and the audio files have been nominated/received. 

  • Judging forms must be completed for all books/audiobooks in a category no later than 11:59 pm on April 15, 2024, Pacific Standard time, at which time the forms will automatically shut down.

  • Judging forms will be compiled and reports produced via the online survey system and then inspected for accuracy by the Awards Administrators. Final results are then verified by one or more members of an independent review committee.

Scoring Rules and Regulations:

  • Judges shall follow the guidelines set forth below.

  • Judges shall receive one clean copy, one eBook file, or one audiobook of each book in their assigned category, and instructions on how to access the online form to score their assigned category.

  • The online scoring form is comprised of definitions, judging guidelines, and evaluation items specific to a given category, as well as common items asked across two or more related categories. Most evaluation items are written as statements, and judges are asked how much they agree or disagree with each statement on a 1 (totally disagree) to 10 (totally agree) point scale. The resulting numerical scores from each judge are averaged to determine finalists and winners in the category.

  • Judges also are asked to answer two open-ended questions, one at the beginning of the form and one at the end. Judges are required to provide comments that are explanatory and constructive

  • Each book/audiobook must be scored using the correct judging form for the category for which it is nominated and according to the judging guidelines contained therein. Each judge MUST complete the online scoring form for each book being judged by April 15, 2024. NO LATER.

  • The score for individual judging of a book/audiobook is tallied by the online form and then inspected for accuracy by the Awards Administrators. Final results are then verified by one or more members of an independent review committee.



Determining the Finalists and Winners:

  • Multiple books by authors and/or co-authors may be submitted for judging in a single category.

  • The number of finalists and winners in each category will be determined using the following formula:
    • At least six entries are required in a judged category for a GOLDIE to be awarded
    • 25% of total eligible nominations within a category will be finalists

    • 10% of total eligible nominations within a category will be winners

    • Only one book by the same author(s) may proceed as a finalist in that category

    • If two or more books authored by the same author(s) are ranked as finalists in the same category, immediately following the tally of judges’ scores, the highest-ranking book by this author shall be retained and the other books in that category by this same author will be eliminated from the competition

Tie-Break Protocol:

  • FINALISTS: In the event that there is a tie for the last ranked finalist position, there shall be more finalists than the calculated 25% for that category.

  • WINNERS: In the event that in a category where there is a tie for the last ranked winner position, a reserve judge will read and evaluate the two books in question. The reserve judge’s scores will be added to the totals of the original judges’ scores for each book and the scores will be re-calculated to determine the winner. In the event the tie remains, an additional award will be presented. 



Beginning in 2023, the process for the Ann Bannon award will be different. The process for the Tee Corinne award remains unchanged.

    • Any book/ebook submitted in a Fiction Novel category is eligible for the Ann Bannon Popular Choice Award.
    • All books submitted for the Ann Bannon award will go through a round of judging.
      • Very much like the process for the Debut Novel award, books will be judged according to 19 “essential elements” that are consistent across all Fiction Novel categories.
      • The books scoring in the top 25% (based on the number of Ann Bannon nominations) will move to the finalist round. (Maximum: 25 finalists)
      • Books determined to be finalists based on the judging round will then go through a round of voting.
        • Voters will use ranked-choice voting.
        • Voters will choose their 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th choices during the voting round.
    • Winners will be determined based on the results of the voting round.
      • Goldies will be awarded to the top three (3) books.
      • 1st place will be the Gold Winner, 2nd place will be the Silver Winner, and 3rd place will be the Bronze Winner.
    • All nominations will be compiled and we will execute a Round 1 vote online to narrow the field to a shortlist of eight (8) Finalists.
    • A second round of voting will determine a winner from the list of eight Finalists.
      • In the event of a two-way tie, two awards will be given to the top two books.
      • In the event of a three-way tie, a third round of voting will be held.
  • A $20.00 fee per book is required to nominate in these categories; however, submission of books is not required for these categories.
  • Scores will be tallied by the Awards Administrators and then checked and verified by one or more members of an independent review committee.
  • The winners of the vote will be announced at the Awards Ceremony at the Annual Conference.



The decision of the Golden Crown Literary Society as to the eligibility of any book shall be final, and no correspondence shall be entered into in relation to eligibility, selection of winners, or any other aspect of the judging or awards process.

The scoring of the judges, who will remain anonymous until after the awards are announced, and any decisions by the awards administrators shall be final, and no correspondence will be entered into or responded to concerning the actual judging or the judging process at any time.

Questions about any aspect of the judging process, rules & regulations may be directed to the Awards Administrator at awards@goldencrown.org


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