We use a panel of more than one hundred volunteer judges who hail from each of the twelve states in MiPA’s region. Most of our judges are librarians who are subject matter experts in their assigned categories.

Each entry will be judged by three independent judges. Judges’ individual book evaluation sheets will be provided to all entrants after the awards are announced. Judges assign a numerical score to each question. They are invited to—but not required to—offer additional comments, observations, and suggestions.

Numerical scores decide the finalists and winners. Comments are purely for the benefit of the publisher. One of the goals of MiPA is to help publishers produce quality books and learn best practices in the industry. We encourage you to look over the judging information listed below to get an idea of the areas on which your entry will be evaluated.

Subject Categories

The editorial criteria used for all subject category entries (fiction, nonfiction, and poetry) include the following questions:

Writing: Is the writing style engaging and the voice consistent? How well does the text follow generally accepted principles of good writing for the genre (i.e., clear sentence structure, use of active voice, strong vocabulary)?

Mechanics/Organization: Rate the mechanical correctness of the copy regarding grammar, spelling, punctuation. Is the content well organized and does it flow easily to allow comprehension and maintain interest (pace) by the intended reader audience?

Clarity/Storytelling: For fiction, is the plot engaging and original? Are characters appropriately developed? For nonfiction, is the information well presented and organized clearly? Is the topic compelling? For children’s books, is the story interesting and is the writing appropriate for the age level?

Production: Rate the production quality of the book (formatting, consistency in design, printing quality).

Overall Reaction: Rate your overall impression of the content and quality of the book.

Design Categories

The design criteria used for evaluating entries in cover design, interior design, illustration, and total book design include the following questions. These questions are fine-tuned for the specific category. For example, cover design judges will only receive questions pertaining to cover design.

Cover Appearance: Does the total cover design create interest—do you want to pick up the book and examine it more closely? Does the cover fit the genre? Are the photographs or illustrations appropriate, of good quality, and reproduced well? Does the choice of color on the cover stimulate interest and fit with the subject?

Cover Layout: Is the typeface attractive, readable, and appropriate for the subject matter? Does the organization of cover elements create a coherent look? Are front and spine copy legible in all formats (i.e., bookstore shelves and online thumbnails)?

Interior Appearance: Is the book layout (i.e., the organization of heads, subheads, indents, and breaks in copy) consistent and does it facilitate reading? Are font styles and typographic composition easy to read and complementary to each other?

Interior Layout: Are margins well spaced? Do the letter, line, and word spacing create a pleasing reading experience? Is the printing well done throughout and does the paper stock fit the book’s design? If there are illustrations or photographs in the interior, are they appropriate, of good quality, and reproduced well?

Overall Reaction: Rate your overall impression of the design of the book.