On July 24th, The Ripped Bodice unveiled their latest endeavor: the Awards for Excellence in Romance Fiction. You can read the announcement or go straight to their site to see the list of judges, selection process, and more.
And guess what? Love in Panels contributor Ana Coqui is on the judging panel!
Read on for more about the process, what Ana is looking forward to, and how all this differs from her many other projects within the romance community.
So, are you excited to be a judge?
Very much! I am so happy to see the diverse team Leah and Bea Koch have put together and their vision for the awards.
How did this come about?
Back at the end of March I received an email from Bea and Leah asking if I would be interested in being part of the inaugural judging committee for the Ribbies. They laid out their vision and the ground work they had already done and I didn't have to think about it very long to know I would love to be involved.
What are you hoping for with these awards?
Awards are often a way folks outside of our genre are introduced to our books. As a librarian I know that Award lists are discovery tools for readers. Awards also always provide the romance community an opportunity to debate and I am sure that the Ribbies will not be immune to that. So what I hope is that the group of books and authors we choose to honor for their excellence be books and author that have been fairly considered and are an inclusive representation of the genre.
Together with a few other bloggers, you started the ReadRChat Awards a couple of years ago. How are these two awards different and how do you see them complementing each other?
I think both the ReadRChat Awards and the Ribbies have the same intentions, a desire to celebrate inclusive romance. The ReadRChat team lead by Elena Savova decided to run an annual fan nominated and voted award in response to the lack of representation and frankly odd choices that showed up in the annual end of year Goodreads reader polls. We knew that #readRchat participants read a wide variety of romance sub-genres and had diverse reading tastes, so we suspected that if they were given an opportunity, their lists of favorites would be books worth celebrating.
The ReadRChat awards really seek to celebrate a wide variety of romances and to serve as a discovery opportunity to readers. I've put many a book on my TBR based on the nominations each of the years we have run it.
I think the Ribbies coming out of the Ripped Bodice and having the benefit of their platform and connections will have greater reach beyond the Twitter romance community and hopefully introduce the awesome books we select to a broader community of readers.
How does this process differ from the current RITA selection process?
I can say that it will be different. The Ribbies are not a revenue stream for the Ripped Bodice or any of us judges. The structure of the selection and judging process is completely different. The RITAs are a peer-judged contest, where authors must self-submit and pay to enter.
I've never taken part in RITA judging, but I have previously judged a RWA Chapter contest in the past. When I judged for the Chapter contest I received an assortment of books, randomly assigned to me in the mail along with sets of rubrics. I read all the books sent to me and filled out a rubric for each one, that I then returned to organizer who tabulated the results of all the judges before announcing winners.
Bea and Leah are not sending us packets of books to read and judge via rubric. At this stage they have asked judges to continue to read romance as we have always done, and to keep track of the books we think are worth considering for the award and share those lists through the year with the other judges. Bea and Leah have recruited a diverse and inclusive list of romance readers and reviewers as part of this group so the lists will reflect the wide selection of what is being (trad, indie or self) published in romance this year.