Panelist applications for the Cybils open this Thursday! For those who haven't been involved with the Cybils before, and not sure about applying, here's my personal take on how things work (the official information is available at the Cybils website).
WHAT ARE THE CYBILS?
a nutshell, the Cybils are book awards for children's and Young Adult
books and aps, given by panels of volunteer bloggers. Anyone can
nominate eligible titles in a variety of subgenres during the nomination
period, which runs from Oct. 1 to Oct. 15, 2014. (Eligible titles are
books published for children or teens between Oct. 16, 2012 and Oct. 15,
The nominated books/aps are evaluated by a
first round of 5-7 panelists;
at the end of December, these panelists send a short list of 5-7 titles
to a second round of panelists, who then have to pick a winner. The
main criteria for judging are audience appeal and literary merit.
Any currently active children's and YA book blogger, who is at least 16 years old, can apply to be a
first or second round panelist for any of the following categories:
Easy Readers/Early Chapter Books
Fiction Picture Books
Elementary/Middle- Grade Nonfiction
Young Adult Nonfiction
Middle Grade Fiction
Young Adult Fiction
Elementary/Middle- Grade Speculative Fiction
Young Adult Speculative Fiction
categories have more books nominated in them than others--last year
Elementary and MG Speculative Fiction had 150, and Fiction Picture
Books, Middle Grade and YA categories had as many, if not more (the YA
categories, I think, were pushing 200). So the time commitment varies
FOR THOSE THINKING OF APPLYING:
The panels are comprised of returning Cybilians (dependable veterans), and newcomers.
year I'm category organizer for Elementary and Middle Grade Speculative
Fiction (formerly Sci Fi/Fantasy), which means choosing two balanced, thoughtful, enthusiastic groups of readers--first
round readers who aren't daunted by the thought of a 150 or so book
list, and second round panelists who will be sharp as all get out when
picking the best of the best.
Do not be put off by that 150 number! It sounds much more scary than it is.
Why, though it is lot of reading, it's not so scary:
--not everybody has to read every book (it's a minimum of two readers for each book).
--not every book you can count as read has to be read in its entirety.
--you'll have read a number of the books already
know before the nomination period begins that they are panelists, and so the
reading period actually begins in the middle of September (there
are many books to read that you just know will be nominated).
--In many categories, like E and MG Spec Fic, some books will be very short, fast reads,
no fixed minimum number of books you have to read, and it is not a
competition to see who can read the most books--there will be speed
readers, and less speedy readers, and both are just fine, as long as
there is sincere commitment and effort.
And of course, if you want to be a second round panelist, it's at most seven books to read.
Why you might want to apply--
is really, really fun to talk enthusiastically about books you love
(and love less well) with like-minded folk. You can say all sorts of
things to your co-panelists that you would never say in
public--squeeing, arguing, venting, and gushing are perfectly fine! It
is a great way to revitalize your reading. (It is also a great way to
distract yourself from things you'd rather not do, but that might be a
reason not to apply...)
You make new friends. Some of my best blogging friends were fellow Cybilians.
After being a first round panelist, you will have an incredibly broad picture of what's up in the genre.
will have a sense of satisfaction from having helped create a resource
(the lists of finalists) that lots of people will appreciate.
Why you might not want to apply (particularly for the first round)
you have a major life commitment this fall--having a baby, starting a
new job, buying a house, etc.--you might not want to be a first round
panelist (although I've worked with great co-panelists who have done
these things while reading furiously!). Things get a bit intense around
Christmas, when the deadline for the list of finalists looms, so you'll
need to be able to spare some hours for group discussions/last minute
If you have a
potential conflict of interest (perhaps you are in the book business in
some way, or perhaps you have written an eligible book), that would
preclude you from being an impartial panelist, you'll want to make sure
this is made clear when you apply.
If you don't
think it sounds like fun to check your email lots and lots to see what
your co-panelists have to say about their reading, and to share your own
thoughts, and to check off the books you've read in the spreadsheet,
you might want to think it over...You don't have to go overboard, but
you should plan on being Present in a meaningful way.
you live outside the US, you are welcome to apply, but you will have a
harder time getting hold of books (if this applies to you, and you think
you could manage it, do feel free to explain when you fill out the
If for some reason you don't have
easy access to a public library, you might have a hard time getting
books; some books will come from publishers and authors, including
ebooks, but many will not.
But in any event,
Grade Speculative Fiction is the Best Category Ever and the books
are really good this year and I hope lots of you apply, although then I
will have to make Hard Choices and be sad about not being able to pick
Which reminds me that it's common
knowledge that some categories get lots of applicants (the YA ones, and
fiction picture books), and some get lots fewer (poetry, non-fiction,
book aps); you might want to keep that in mind when you indicate your
choices. I have no idea how many people put E and MG Spec Fic down as their first
choice last year, and I am very curious indeed to see how it plays out!
And if you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments, or email me at charlotteslibary at gmail dot com.