Smugglers Ponderings

Smugglers’ Ponderings: On Book Blogger Appreciation Week (BBAW)

Yesterday the shortlists for the Book Blogger Appreciation Week Awards were released and we made the final ballot for three categories!! (Woohoo! Yay! Oba!) They are (if you click on each of them you will be able to see examples of posts for each category) :

Best Graphic Novel Review Blog
Best Collaborative Blog
Most Humorous/Funniest

How cool is that? We love the categories we have been shortlisted for and it is a great honor to be nominated amongst these blogs. You can check all of the other categories here – and then show your appreciation for your favourites! Voting closes Saturday September 12 at 11:59 PM EST.

So, we are here to celebrate our inclusion on the final ballot, but mostly we would like to give our own two cents about the Awards and about BBAW and why we are 100% behind the whole thing.

On The Awards

We are sure a lot of people are wondering about the awards, especially about the fairness of the nominations and the final shortlists (especially given the numerous online brouhahas). We can certainly understand some of the misgivings – there should have been more information about the process available on the official website (for example, what are the criteria for nominations and exactly how the blogs are being judged to the public). There were also some concern about the way some of the nominees were contacted as though it was assumed that the entire Internets knew what the BBAW were – which is an unreasonable assumption of course, given how the Internets is like, IMMENSE.

But you know what? BBAW is in its infancy and as such it’s still going through a trial period and a lot of things need to be tweaked. We believe that to completely dismiss it as “only another one of those meaningless awards” is to use an inaccurate description – because it’s not. This is not a Premio Dardos award or a Kreativ Blog award – these awards are really nice and everything, but are memes based mostly on an individual’s choice (and usually along the lines of, “Well, [so and so blogger] has not gotten this meme/award yet, so I’ll give it to him/her”). BBAW Awards, on the other hand, are honest to goodness awards with open nominations and a judging panel of impartial volunteers who go through an extensive process to rank each nominee.

We Book Smugglers are in no way connected with the official organization of the BBAW Awards, but we were involved with the shortlisting process. Both Thea and Ana were invited to be judging panelists (and no, we were not judging categories that we were nominated for!) – Ana was on the panel for Best Mystery Blog and Thea was on the panel for Best Cultural Review Blog. When we accepted we had no idea at how much work was involved. Seriously, people, you have NO IDEA how strenuous the process is. We know there were other 4 judges on the panel with us (it’s 5 per category), but we have NO IDEA who they were. Rest assured, we did not trade secret emails, currying favorites amongst the nominees.

We each received an Excel spreadsheet with all the blogs nominated – and this means EVERY. SINGLE. NOMINEE. Many of which were inappropriate for the category, we might add! – and the 5 links they submitted for evaluation. Ana’s spreadsheet had more than 40 blogs and Thea’s more than 50. Then each blog had to be evaluated according to 16 different criteria ranging from ‘spelling/grammar,’ ‘original content’ and ‘fresh perspective’ to ‘ease of navigation’ and ‘audience engagement.’ It was a lot of work, and we think it was a pretty fair process given the anonymity of the panelists, not to mention the fact we were judging book blogs that are outside of our normal range of reads (so we were not tempted to play favorites with bloggers we already knew). We’d assign each blog a numerical score for each criterion, and the sum totals of all the judges’ scorecards determined the who made the shortlist nominations.

We are sure someone somewhere is thinking: “But who makes these decisions? Who chose the judging criteria?” Which is fair enough, and these questions should be asked if we aim for an honest award that means something. The judging criteria were compiled by Amy and the wonderful crew of tireless BBAW runners, and ultimately the shortlists are a numbers game – the blogs with the highest scores make it on to the final ballot. Is this a completely fail-proof process? NO. Are there flaws? YES.

But, the thing is, the Awards? They are only a part, a SMALL part, of what Book Blogger Appreciation Week is all about. And to concentrate on them is really to lose sight of what really matters here.

Book Blogger Appreciation Week

The title says it all. Book Blogger Appreciation Week is a week-long event to celebrate books, reading, and most of all blogging. Simple as that. It started last year in 2008 and it was run by the [wonderful!stupendous!herculean!] Amy from the blog My Friend Amy, and it has expanded in such a way that this year (the mere second year of its existence, BBAW v2.0) has over 1000 blogs taking part. That’s a lot of blogs. Did we mention that those participating are all volunteers, doing this out of a genuine love for reading, writing and blogging? That’s a lot of work!

Over the course of the week, the aim is to celebrate what we book bloggers are all about. There are suggested daily blogging topics that EVERYONE can participate in by way of adding your post links at the BBAW official website every day.

For example, on Monday, you can talk about your favorite blogs that did not make the final award ballots. On Tuesday, there will be blogger interview swaps, and so on and so forth. For the entire list of suggestions, check out the official list HERE.

We will be posting every day following the daily topics and we encourage all of you to participate! You do not have to vote for the awards, or be nominated for an award, or have anything to do with the awards to be a part of BBAW! In fact, you can pretty much ignore the awards and make it all about connecting with other like-minded people, if you want. The awards are the icing on the cake, the last leg of BBAW – as with, say, the RWA Nationals each year, the awards are part of the closing ceremony at the end of the convention. They’re a great way to celebrate, but the real fun is in the convention itself.

The spirit of Book Blogger Appreciation Week is to connect, make new blogging buddies, and discover new, wonderful blogs in this vast ocean that is the Internets. It is about celebrating our community and communicating with people you wouldn’t otherwise know, and sharing our experiences and ideas – it is an extrapolation or rather, a concentration of everything NICE and AWESOME that blogging is supposed to be in ONE SINGLE WEEK.

In short, it is about having FUN. Isn’t that why we are all here anyways?

(Now, please go vote for us! Pretty Please?)

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  • Natasha @ Maw Books
    September 8, 2009 at 10:28 am

    I’ve been curious to know whether those who had doubts with the awards would partake in the other aspects of BBAW. I love that you encouraged everybody to do! Well said! I agree 100%

  • Amy @ My Friend Amy
    September 8, 2009 at 10:29 am

    LOL We didn’t know how much work would be involved either. 🙂

    Btw, I will send you a survey and all other panelists as soon as I can…but we’re pretty much planning a huge overhaul as it were.

  • Chris@bookarama
    September 8, 2009 at 10:34 am

    Yes, judging took me hours and it was only one category. It was serious work and I took it seriously.

    I’m looking forward to the activities next week.

  • Mandi
    September 8, 2009 at 10:39 am

    Great post!! I knew there was tons of behind the scene work but my goodness!! I think everyone involved has been doing a great job. It has been such a fun time:) Looking forward to the actual week of events!

  • Sheila (Bookjourney)
    September 8, 2009 at 10:39 am

    Nicely put! I am so excited just to experience my first BBAW! I received nominations and that was overly thrilling for me considering the incredible amount of book related blogs out there.

    I look forward to the event itself and agree that this is a wonderful way to celebrate books and all the wonderful people behind the blogs we love to read! 😀

  • susan
    September 8, 2009 at 10:52 am

    Well said. This is my first BBAW. I’m seriously impressed with a week-long event schedule, the incredible amount of work put into the judging and the giveaways.

    I must be on the periphery because I haven’t read any criticism and I’m glad for it.

  • Christine
    September 8, 2009 at 11:03 am

    Very well said, Ana and congratulations to you and Thea for making THREE shortlist categories! How exciting! 🙂

    I voted last night! 😉

  • katiebabs
    September 8, 2009 at 11:04 am

    Thank you ladies! You said it perfectly. *Applause*

  • Jackie (Literary Escapism)
    September 8, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    Beautifully said. It’s about time someone posted about what the true purpose behind BBAW is. 😛

    I was on the panel for Best Historical Blog and there were 40 for that one too; judging was very time consuming and I give kudos to all those who were on the panels. It takes a lot of dedication to go through them all.

  • Is My Blog One of Best Romance Blogs in Romanceland? «
    September 8, 2009 at 12:39 pm

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  • Sheri
    September 8, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    Hey Smugglers…

    Well, I did my voting yesterday and I’m proud to announce that I did, in fact, vote for y’all. You know, a little over a month ago I had never even heard of your blog. Now, I’m a subscriber and so happy to be one! I’d never met you if it weren’t for BBAW Week. Did I hit the lucky train when I got you for my interview spotlight on the 15th, or what?

    So… I think your post was wonderful in describing how much effort and work was put into it. I personally hope to see some changes to the system next year. Did you know that all it took was one vote to get you nominated? Therefore, there were over a thousand nominees! Trying to compile information and judging for that number blogs was an unbelievable feat!

    To be perfectly honest.. for the people who are expressing negativity, I have to wonder why… Last year, I was only a month old. I didn’t know any of the blogs. But, I checked out the nominees (as I did this year) and voted. I also found some blogs that were really great. During the BBAW week, my connections doubled. I loved it! I met so many great bloggers! And, I hoped that one day my blog may earn a BBAW… or be nominated.

    I hope that readers & bloggers alike enjoy the carnival. I also hope that people realize that this is the 2nd year for the BBAW Awards (2nd!!!). I know that Amy has taken the criticism to heart and future improvements will be made. But, for the bloggers, like y’all who worked hard throughout the year to provide a quality blog, let’s not let any negativity diminish the celebration of your nominations! CONGRATULATIONS! Job well done! As a new, yet loyal, reader… I felt great about voting for you yesterday!

    A Novel Menagerie

  • Sheri
    September 8, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    P.S. Over 90 on my panel!

  • Short & Sweet, but Tye-Dye for Me | Literary Escapism
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    […] Blogger Appreciation Week News: The Book Smugglers have a GREAT article on the upcoming Book Blogger Appreciation Week.  They talk about the actual judging process for […]

  • Maya M.
    September 8, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    Well spoken. I’ve been a little taken aback at how swiftly dismissive, shall we say, a well-known blog which I visit every day was about this meta-project. Which is that blogger’s perfect right to be, it just seemed somehow out of character with the ‘live and let live’ kind of vibe I’d gotten from that site before.

    In any case – congrats on your noms, and I will be looking forward to activities and exchanging interviews with another participating blogger. 😀

  • Doug Knipe [SciFiGuy]
    September 8, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    Congratulations ladies on the shortlist. Three categories. Wow! An excellent post on BBAW behind the scenes. Amy and her volunteers are amazing. What a tremendous commitment. Now let’s have fun.

  • KMont
    September 8, 2009 at 2:21 pm

    Excellent break down, ladies.

  • Literate Housewife
    September 8, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    Great post! I was on the panel for two awards and it was a time consuming task. No doubt about it. While I didn’t make any of the short lists for the categories for which I was nominated and was a little disappointed (hubby gave me some extra hugs and I was fine), I’m still excited about this week and plan on making September 14th very special. What I’ve learned from this process is that my Google Reader is not as full as I thought it could be. I’ve added 20 blogs over the course of my time as a panelist and the week hasn’t even started. This is going to be a fun week – maybe even more so because there won’t be any nervous anticipation over who actually does win. I can sit back in my sweats and cheer everyone else on.

  • Tracy
    September 8, 2009 at 3:52 pm

    Big, big, BIG congrats on your shortlist noms! That’s awesome and greatly deserved!

  • Michelle
    September 8, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    Let’s get this party started!

    Fabulously said, big congratulations to you and good luck as the voting commences. 🙂

  • rhapsodyinbooks
    September 8, 2009 at 6:18 pm

    Congratulations on your well-deserved shortlist nominations! I too was on a panel and it was a huge amount of work and took many many snacks to get through! Great post!

  • Elizabeth
    September 8, 2009 at 7:50 pm

    Thanks for this. Really, thanks. This is what I want to say on my blog – can I just copy and paste?? =)

  • Ana
    September 8, 2009 at 11:19 pm

    Thank for all the comments and congratulations y’all! 😀

  • SarahT
    September 9, 2009 at 1:43 am


  • Beth F
    September 9, 2009 at 3:59 am

    First congrats on all our short-list nominations! And second — excellent post. And yes, BBAW is more than the awards. It’s a time to celebrate [ourselves], to visit new blogs, and to participate in a week-long event of posting and sharing.

  • Frances
    September 9, 2009 at 4:35 am

    Here, here! Well said. Let’s make this all about the fun. Congrats on the huge honors, and many thanks for serving on a panel. It is all so exciting. I told myself that it was not important, and then lost my mind when I found out I was shortlisted in one category. Such grace, such composure. Best part of all of this? Reaching outside my normal list of reads to blogs like yours and really enjoying it. Btw, if there was a prize for best banner, I would vote for you. Happy reading!

  • Serena (Savvy Verse & Wit)
    September 9, 2009 at 8:17 am

    This is a great post and I just love how you encouraged participation. For me, it hasn’t been about the awards. I simply volunteered to be a panelist to ease Amy’s burden a little.

    I really love the interview exchanges and other activities that go on during BBAW…That is the best part and then that Google Reader goes out of control once more!

  • J.T. Oldfield
    September 9, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    Thanks for this post. So far it has been the best explanation of how the panelists scored the nominees. And I totally agree that BBAW is not just about awards (and that coming from someone who was neither a panelist nor made the shortlist). I think that there has been so much focus on the awards (out of necessity) in the lead up to BBAW and hopefully we’ll soon be moving on to other aspects.

  • Harry Markov
    September 9, 2009 at 11:56 pm

    Exactly. I plan on speaking about this soon as well. It was a fun experience.

  • Meghan
    September 10, 2009 at 5:46 am

    Wonderful post, ladies! I’m so glad you encouraged everyone who wants nothing to do with the awards to participate in the week. As you say, the awards are only a part, it just seems that they’re the part which requires the most organization! I volunteered on two panels and it was really time-consuming but well worth it. There are ways the criteria could be improved, but I think the panels are a better method overall than the original popularity contest method employed last year.

    Anyway, congratulations on your nominations! I was happy to vote for you. I don’t comment much but I love your blog!

  • Beth Kephart
    September 12, 2009 at 4:29 am

    A wonderful post, a wonderful reminder of just how broad a reach this initiative seeks to have.

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