Frequently Asked Questions: The GCLS “Goldie” Awards
How long have the Goldies existed?In 2005, the first Goldie awards were given in four categories (romance, mystery/thriller, sci-fi/fantasy, and debut author). As of 2014, Goldies are given in 13 regular categories plus four special awards: The Ann Bannon Popular Choice Award, The Lee Lynch Classic Awards, The Directors’ Award, and The Trailblazer Award. eBooks were added for consideration in 2012. More categories may be added in the future as well.
How are books chosen for Goldie consideration?
Books may be nominated by anyone who pays the nomination fee and supplies the required number of copies of books for the judges to read.
How do books get judged?
Qualified judges read all the nominated titles and score them based upon an extensive questionnaire that covers elements of a book (plot, characters, theme, writing effectiveness, etc.). Each judge (currently we use three per category) submits scores online and the totals are tabulated electronically to determine the winners. The top books are announced as finalists and listed at the website.
How are judges chosen?
People who believe they may be qualified to be a judge of lesbian fiction, creative non-fiction or poetry are invited to apply on our website (linked from the Literary Awards page). Applications are reviewed by the Awards Administrator and judges are selected based on a number of qualifying criteria. Anyone is welcome to suggest someone they think would be a good judge, to the Awards Administrator, and the AA will follow up with those people to invite them to apply. The primary qualifications include that judges must be willing and able to impartially read all the books in their assigned category, and they must be well read in the genre as well as knowledgeable about writing structure, storyline, plot, POV, and other critical aspects that cause a book to be of good quality.
How can a judge be impartial since the lesbian writing world is small?
While it is true that the lesbian writing world is a small community where many writers and readers know each other, Goldie judges pledge to read all nominated works with an open mind. If a judge has a conflict of interest, this must be disclosed before the judging process begins or their scoring for the whole category will be discarded. No one who has a book under consideration or whose family members (including partner) has a book under consideration may judge in that category. Publishers and those who are employees of a publishing house have too great a conflict of interest and are exempted from eligibility to judge.
How is the GCLS Board involved in the judging process?
The Board establishes the guidelines for the awards program and develops the training videos for the judges, but is not involved in the yearly award nomination or judging processes for the GCLS Literary Awards. They learn who the winners are, the same time as everyone else - at the Awards Ceremony. The awards process is administered by an independent senior awards administrator, who is assisted by a junior awards administrator who work independently. The senior is experienced in the processes, while the junior is in training to take over from the Senior administrator in the following year. The Awards Administrators ensure that the rules and regulations are followed and all aspects of the judging process are kept secret. People with a “Need to Know” (i.e. the administrator, trophy vendors, the creator of the Powerpoint) must sign a Confidentiality Agreement, promising to keep their knowledge confidential until after the awards presentation. One board member serves as a Liaison to the Awards Administrators. The Liaison is not empowered to make or influence any decisions, but only to provide historical information, and to help interpret guidelines if needed. She is not involved in the judging process. All final decisions rest with the Awards Administrator. The Liaison shares no information with the rest of the Board, cannot have a book under consideration, and is not informed of the specifics until the judging process is completed (because the Board Liaison makes the PowerPoint presentation for the awards). At the end of an awards cycle ( i .e. after the Awards Ceremony), the Awards Administrators let the Board know about any aspects of the guidelines that need revision for the next awards cycle, based on any issues that arose that year.
What if the administrator faces a question not covered in the guidelines?
If the Administrator ever needed help with an issue of policy or procedure that is not contained within the rules/guidelines and clarification of the guidelines is needed from the Board of Directors in order for the Awards Administrators to make a decision, the Liaison will serve as a conduit to help the Administrator "sanitize" (i.e. remove all identifiable information that could serve to suggest a book, author, editor or publisher involved in the issue) the information that the Board will need in order to advise on the interpretation of the issue. From 2005 through 2012 such a situation has only arisen once.
Do Goldies represent the best of lesbian literature?
We like to think so but the selection process allows anyone to nominate books, and there is no jury process to determine eligibility. Only rarely has the Awards Administrator had to disqualify a book (and usually that has been because the book did not fall into the eligibility period). All books nominated are considered. While there are guidelines about what constitutes eligibility (for instance, the books must involve a main character who identifies as a lesbian, or must deal with an issue facing those who identify as a lesbian), it is the judges who determine if a book meets the highest standards.
What about the other awards?
Anyone can nominate someone for the Trailblazer Award
The final decision is made by the Board of Directors. See General Information under 2013 Awards, for eligibility details.
Anyone can nominate a member in good standing for the Director’s award
. The final decision is made by the Executive Director in conjunction with the Board.
Anyone can nominate a book for the Lee Lynch Classic Award
. The final decision is made by the Board of Directors.
The Ann Bannon Popular Choice Award
is nominated by members and chosen by the membership using an online voting system.
In 2015, the Tee Corinne Cover Art Popular Choice Award will receive nominations by members and by chosen using an online voting system.
For more details, please visit the 2014 Literary Awards Page
for more information.
What if I was a finalist for an award and couldn’t come to the yearly conference?
The Awards Administrator asks all finalists who cannot attend, to select a proxy acceptor and provide a speech. If you win a Goldie, the GCLS will ensure that it is mailed to you.
Where do I go to find out more about the awards?
Check out the 2014 Literary Awards page
for the Awards Guidelines, lists of past winners, and various other pieces of information.