It’s official: I’ve been selected to judge the 30th Annual Midwest Book Awards!

How did I get myself into this?  I responded to a general call for judges that went out to librarians.  And I was accepted, no questions asked (other than the initial application).  Just shows they’ll take anybody!

Seriously though, I am looking forward to stretching my review skills to include more constructive criticism.  If you follow this blog, you know that I only post reviews of books that I like.  So what I write about is all the really good stuff in a book.  Usually it is things like characters, events, humor or emotion, with few comments on things like writing style, consistency, etc. even though those things often vary from book to book.


Lets get back to the title of this post which includes the words “Call For Entries’.  I am copying the Rules Tab from the Call for Entries page on the MiPA website:

Publishers based in the Midwest are invited to enter the 30th Annual Midwest Book Awards competition for excellence in books published in 2019. The awards recognize creativity in content and execution, overall book quality, and the book’s unique contribution to its subject area.

Who May Enter

  • All entries MUST carry a 2019 copyright and an ISBN. If an entry has a 2020 copyright date, documentation must be provided showing the book was released in 2019. There are no exceptions.
  • All entries must have a copyright page that includes publisher’s name and address, copyright notice, and ISBN.
  • New editions (including the new ISBN) of previously published books are eligible. Reprints do not qualify.
  • Entries must be published by publishers located in the 12-state region: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
  • A single title may be entered in up to three (3) categories. Only print books may be entered. No eBook or app submissions will be accepted.


Deadline for receipt of books and entry fees is December 31, 2019. There are absolutely no exceptions.

Awards & Benefits

  • Three (3) finalists are selected in each category. From those, one (1) winner is chosen. Finalists and award winners receive certificates and tickets to the Midwest Book Awards Gala. Winners will also each receive a bronze medallion.
  • Both finalists and winners may purchase foil seals for use in marketing efforts and will be featured in the Midwest Book Awards Gala Program, in MiPA press releases, and on the MiPA website.
  • Judges’ individual book evaluation sheets will be provided to all entrants after the awards are announced.
  • Award will be presented at the Midwest Book Awards Gala in 2020. More details to come.

Judging Criteria

Each entry will be judged by three independent judges. Finalists are determined by totaling the scores from all three judges. The winning entry is the title with the top score. The judges’ decisions are final. Please note: If the entries in a category do not meet the standards for quality as set by the Midwest Book Awards, no award will be given in that category for that year.

Judges will consider the following:

  • Content and quality of writing and images
  • Overall quality and creativity in book design and production
  • Originality and contribution to the subject area

See Judging tab for more information about judging criteria.

Questions: Contact Verlene Birger by email (bookawards@mipa.org) or call 605-366-9894.

Here is a link to the entry form: https://mipa.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Call-for-entries-2019.pdf

Checkout the MiPA website for further information, including a list of categories and previous winners.


So, something new for me.  The judging takes place from January through March.  I am assuming it will take much of my free time, so I have already stopped taking almost all review requests.  There may be one or two exceptions especially in the case of series that I am serious about reading.  I told myself to stay away from NetGalley and other review sites.  When January comes around and I learn how many books I will be judging, I will re-evaluate taking on new book reviews.

If you are a Midwest independent publisher, I invite you to check this out.  This is a chance for independent publishers to show what they’ve got!  If you know someone that should enter, please share this information with them.