Selection Guidelines

Here are the guidelines for eligibility and selection criteria that the Washington Center for the Book and our panel of judges follow for selecting finalists and winners for th e Washington State Book Award.

The WSBA recognizes up to eight books that exemplify the best writing in the state during a given year.
The categories for adults are:

  • Fiction
  • Poetry
  • Biography/Memoir
  • History/General Nonfiction


The categories for Books for Youth are:

  • A picture book for children
  • A book for early readers (ages 6 to 8)
  • A book for middle readers (ages 9 to 12)
  • A book for young adults (ages 13 to 18)

The purpose of the awards is to honor outstanding books by Washington authors and to bring attention to the quality of writing being produced in Washington.

Definition of a Washington Author

A Washington author is a writer who meets one of these criteria:

  1. Was born in Washington State or
  2. Is a current resident and has maintained residence here for at least three years.


Selection Criteria

Books will be judged based on three criteria:

  1. Literary merit
  2. Lasting importance
  3. Overall quality of the publication


Guiding Policies

  1. Literary merit. Books will be judged principally on the quality of the writing. Scholarly works are eligible if they are accessible to the interested, non-specialist reader.
  2. Overall quality of the publication. Production of the book, presentation, and documentation will also be considered.
  3. Collected essays, poems, or short stories by various authors. Books authored by more than one individual are eligible if all authors are Washington residents. In the event such a work is selected as a winner, the award will be shared equally among the authors.
  4. Translations. Translations of books written in foreign languages are eligible if the translation exhibits literary merit.
  5. Authors who live in Washington part time. Authors who lives in Washington part of the year and considers Washington to be their home are eligible.
  6. Previous winners. The fact that an author has received an award in a prior year does not disqualify a current book by that author.
  7. Multiple books published in one year. An author may be recognized for more than one book published in a year.
  8. Series. A book that is a segment of a multiple-part series will be considered if it stands entirely on its own as a work of literature.
  9. Reprints. A title that is a new or updated edition, or reprinted material (e.g., from cloth to paper), will generally not be considered unless the original edition was not considered.
  10. Books inadvertently omitted. A title that was inadvertently not considered one year is eligible for consideration the following year.
  11. Art books, photography books, or books that are primarily illustration. With the exception of children’s picture books (see #12), those works that consist primarily of depictions of artwork and artists’ statements without original commentary will
    generally not be considered.
  12. Children’s picture book award. This award goes to the author and the illustrator of a picture book if either of them meet the definition of a “Washington author.”

Please note that these guidelines are for WSBA through the 2018 awards cycle. The 2019 Washington State Book Awards (for books published in 2018) will be updated and posted by February 1, 2018.