If you had a chance to be a judge for a book award, would you?

The Minnesota Book awards is now accepting applications for judges. Anyone can be a judge. Well, not anyone. If you are an author of one of the books up for consideration you can’t be a judge on the panel that includes your own book. If you work for the publisher for a book up for consideration you can’t be on that panel either. Nor can you be a staff, board or committee member of The Friends of the St. Paul Public Library (they organize the award).

Judges are selected from across Minnesota. They aim to choose people with diverse work experience, educational backgrounds, ethnicity, age and gender.

The position of judge is 100% volunteer. Volunteers get two complimentary tickets to the awards gala and acknowledgment in the gala program. There are two required in-person meetings for each panel. The preliminary round meeting is held in January to select the four finalists in each category. The final meeting is held in March to choose the winner of the category. Judges are provided detailed criteria for judging. Judges are required to read and take notes on every book and should expect to read 20-65+ books. Judges are not allowed to talk about the books with those not on the panel. The St. Paul library provides the books but the judges do not get to keep them, they belong to the library.

The book award categories are:

  • children’s literature
  • general nonfiction
  • genre fiction
  • memoir and creative nonfiction
  • Minnesota
  • novel and short story
  • poetry
  • young people’s literature

I am thinking of applying to be a judge. I might not be chosen. I have no idea how many applications they get. But if I do apply and do get chosen, that’s a lot of reading in a short period of time. It will totally displace my own personal reading and totally get in the way of blogging since I can’t blog about any of the books. If I decide to apply, I would apply for the poetry panel.

What do you think? Has anyone done something like this before? Was it fun or was it a grind? I’m on the fence. Should I apply? Would you apply if you could?