MWSA has been working on review criteria for several years now. We launched our first public class on those criteria at the 2011 Conference. Not only have we published those criteria on this site in several places and on Facebook and Twitter, we'll also be doing classes on the standard to help authors during their editing process.
Reviewers will use a spreadsheet to score books. The spreadsheet has a series of tabs at the bottom of the screen which allows the reviewer to select the Genres - Fiction, Non-Fiction, Poetry, Children, etc. When you are in the proper "page," you will select the sub-category from a dropdown menu at the top left of the sheet. For example, the piece's genre may be "Non-Fiction" and it's sub-category might be "Memoir." You will then be asked a series of standard questions that are specific to Non-Fiction, Memoirs. How you answer those questions will determine the score. This may seem odd to you at first glance, but understand MWSA considers some qualities more important than other and we have included weighting factors in our calculations.
The goal is to make the process fairer by focusing on consistency and common definitions. It should also make it easier for reviewers to do a critique of each piece. In the long run, these scores will not only be used to determine award winning books – but also to determine what types of educational programs MWSA should be offering our members.
The reviewer’s scores will be used to rank books within each category. The top three numerically will be nominated for awards and sent to a judging committee. Reviewer’s scores will be weighted heavier than judges in the final process.
Each judge will look at the nominated books and answer another series of questions that calculate the scores. Then judges’ scores will be averaged and added to the reviewer’s score to reach the total scores.
Winners in each category will be determined by ranking total scores.
As you see, your initial work is important to the author and to MWSA. We want to get it right and your assessments are the first step in a long process. Here are a few suggestions:
- Answer each question as honestly as you can. If there is an issue with this book that you see and there's no question that fully covers this issue, discuss it in the comment's section of the spreadsheet.
- If the questions do not seem to fit the book you are reviewing, check to make sure that you are in the right tab and have selected the right sub-category. If they are both correct, report the problem to the Lead Reviewer.
- The questions are formulated to measure the author's work against a standard. Select the answer that best relates to the book. When in doubt, choose the question that almost works and put a note in the comments box about the situation.
- If you find any errors in the scoresheet, please report them. If you disagree with the questions, report that too. In some cases, we will put together a committee to review the questions and amend them if necessary.