Time for Whitney Nominations!

So, you’ve complained about previous years’ Whitney Awards? The book you liked didn’t even make it to finalist status? Well, now is the time to help correct that! ’Tis the season — anytime between now and Dec. 31 of this year — to place novels by LDS authors published in 2013 in nomination for a Whitney Award, simply by filling out a short message here.

But wait, you ask. What are the Whitney Awards? And why should I care?

Established in 2007 by LDStorymakers, the Whitney Awards (together with the AML Awards) represent the primary recognition that is available out there for high-quality Mormon literature. Currently awarded in 8 categories (general fiction, romance, suspense/mystery, speculative fiction, speculative YA, general YA, middle grade, and historical — plus best novel of the year and best novel by a new author), the Whitney Awards represent an ingenious combination of reader input and the opinions of working professionals in the Mormon writing community.

The awards involve a three-part process:

1. A work has to be nominated by five readers above the age of 12 (that’s the way it reads in the rules, though elsewhere it says “12 or older”), with no financial interest in the work itself (i.e., not “the novel’s author, publisher or publisher’s employee, or any other party who has a monetary interest in the work”). The committee then contacts the author to verify word count and publication date, and the work is officially nominated for a specific category. Note that self-published and digitally published works are eligible; in fact, self-published works have won awards some years.

2. A panel of five judges in each genre category reads the works nominated in that category and chooses five finalists.

3. The “Whitney Academy” rank-order votes on the finalists in each category after reading all five of the nominated books in that category. The Academy consists of “all eligible LDS authors” (members of the LDS Church and of LDStorymakers, published by a traditional publisher in the last 5 years, or a current or previous Whitney Award finalist), plus publishers, bookstore owners, and “other professionals in the industry” such as critics and media. (If you think you might be eligible, you can contact the Whitney Awards Committee to become a member of the Academy.)

Note that at no point in the process is there any kind of rubric other than length (different for different categories). People get to vote on the basis of whatever it is they like about the book. But you have to affirm that you have read each book in a category in order to vote. I approve of that. In fact, I approve of the entire process, as a process, though I sometimes haven’t agreed with the decisions in a particular category.

Which is where we all come in.

The first thing that has to happen in order for a book to be considered for a Whitney Award is that readers need to nominate it. And as I said before, that needs to happen by the 31st of this year, for books published in 2013.

It’s pretty easy to nominate a book. Just go here, like I said, and fill out a form with the appropriate information. So my first challenge to you, faithful (or even one-time) AML blog readers: is this: Nominate books you’ve read that you think are worth it!

Second, I invite/challenge you to share in the comments below books published in 2013 that you think are worth nominating, ideally with a short blurb indicating what they’re about and why you think they’re worth nominating. Note that for current purposes, self-promotion is perfectly fine. This can serve two purposes:

  • Remind others who have read the same book that they, too, might want to nominate that book.
  • Provide the rest of us with a prod to look at some books that might interest us, hopefully before December 31, and if we like them nominate them ourselves.

I know that in past years, books I might have enjoyed voting for didn’t get on the finalist lists at least in part because they never got the initial five nominations to bring them to consideration by the judges. Unfortunately, I tend to find out about titles like that too late — after the year when I could have sent in a nominating vote. So this column is my attempt at being proactive this year, and getting us all to do our bit to put literature we like on the landscape of the Whitney Awards!

About Jonathan Langford

Hi! I'm the coordinator for the AML blog, a critic and reviewer of Mormon literature and sf&f, and an aspiring creative writer with one published novel. To contact me about the AML blog, email jonathan AT langfordwriter DOT com.
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10 Responses to Time for Whitney Nominations!

  1. Marny says:

    A list of books by LDS authors with summaries is available at the New LDS Fiction blog.

    • Karlene says:

      Thanks for the mention, Marny. I’ve been told that a lot of readers come to my site to look for books to read. It is really difficult to track down LDS authors, verify that they’re LDS, and then check their sites frequently to discover if they have anything new out. I love it when people help me out by letting me know when I’ve missed an author or new release.

      I’ve personally nominated 23 books for Whitney Awards in 2013.

  2. Karey says:

    I read more than 25 books by LDS authors this year and of those, the ones that stand out the most (and that I’ve nominated for Whitney Awards) are Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford, Working It Out by Rachael Anderson, A Different Blue by Amy Harmon, Longing for Home by Sarah Eden, The Avery Shaw Experiment by Kelly Oram, and Fairchild by Jaime Fixon.

    Because it wasn’t fiction, it’s not eligible for a Whitney Award, but I want to mention My Story by Elizabeth Smart. It was an inspiring and uplifting (and troubling and sickening) book. She’s an amazing person and I found her humor and hope and outlook to be impressive.

  3. Th. says:

    .

    Are only people living in the US allowed to nominate?

    • Jonathan Langford says:

      I don’t know of any such limitation. The webpage where you can input nominations says you need to give “Your city and state,” but I assume that if you’re not living in the U.S., you would give your city and country (or city, province, and country; whatever).

  4. Th. says:

    .

    I didn’t read a whole lot of 2013 releases, but worthy of nomination I thought were Mile 21 and The Hand of Glory.

  5. Ryan says:

    Because of the constraints of time, it is unfortunate that late year releases might get the shaft in this process. I’m not saying it should be fixed, as any process will have its advantages and disadvantages. But with that idea in mind, I believe The Accidental Marriage by Annette Haws is a fantastic book taking an anecdotal look at a time and situation in Church history that is not often focused on: women and their roles in the 1970s. I think it is very worthy of a Whitney nomination.

  6. Katya says:

    I normally don’t get to books until they’ve been out for a few years, which has made my past Whitney nominations few and far between. I just finished The Reluctant Blogger by Ryan Rapier, though, so I’ve nominated that and I also nominated Pivot Point by Kasie West, which I haven’t yet finished, but so far I’m really enjoying both the premise and the execution.

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