Frequently Asked Questions - eBook Competition

FAQs - eBook Competition

Sometimes, in spite of our best efforts, the rules may not be as clear as they might be. These questions may help to clarify some of the issues that have been brought to our attention in the past.

If you need more information, or if our answers are not clear, contact the Competitions Chair. Your query may not receive a reply if your question is answered in the FAQs.

In regards to the entry form, we need as much information as possible so that we can match payments to the correct entries, match entries to the correct entrants, and have all the correct shipping information to mail any awards.

In regards to the upload form, we have a range of criteria we check for entry eligibility as well as a wide range of content. Because our judges are also asked about their content preferences, we are able to better match your entry to our judges with your information.

EPIC only accepts payments through PayPal. You do not need a PayPal account to make a payment to us. 

When you click on the "Submit" button on the bottom of the entry form, you'll be taken to a payment page. You do not have to log in, though the login option will be there. There's an admittedly small link under the login where you can pay with a credit or debit card, much as you would do at any website store. Click on this link and fill in your credit card information.

Many people think PayPal is not secure and that may have been true in the past. However, we would not use the service if we were not confident of the security.

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If you upload two different authors on the upload form, we won't have information about one of your authors.

We would hate to get confused and send an award to the wrong person because someone combined two contestants' entries on one form.

The short answer is you don't send it anywhere. You must upload it to EPIC's website.

From the Rules:

Once payment has cleared, an acknowledgment of receipt of payment and a link to the upload form will be sent to the Contact email address.

This email will carry the subject: eBook Awards Upload Instructions. If you have not received this email after 48 hours, contact EPIC's Webmaster.

Click on the link to access the upload form.

Your actual upload will happen in the form's sections Entry 1 and Entry 2. The fields for Entry 1 are required; that is, to submit the form, you must fill out all the fields. The last field is File Upload.

Entry 2 is used only when you have paid for two (2) entries. 

We do not accept email attachments of entry files. 

If you have problems filling out the upload form after reviewing the rules to ensure you have the correct filetype, filename, etc., contact the Competitions Chair.

Let's go through the whole upload form and look at each field. We'll give you suggestions on them.

PayPal Transaction ID will be included the upload instructions email that directed you to the upload form. It is best to copy and paste the ID from the email into the field. If you have paid for two entries, make sure you have completed both entry sections before you click on "Submit" because the ID may only be used once.

All eMail fields require a valid email format. This means including the "@" symbol in the email field. We need these to be valid so we can contact you with any issues that may arise.

Publishing Company means the name of the publisher of the entry. If you are Self-published, enter Self-published in this field.

Publisher's email address can be the email of anyone who can answer questions regarding your entry. Enter these as valid email addresses with the @ symbol. If you are Self-published, enter your own email address.

The Buy Now link is where the book can be purchased. This requires a URL link, which goes to the publisher's or author's page where the book is displayed for sale. A link to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or other on-line vendor may also be used. We just need to be able to quickly verify that the entered book is for sale or has been for sale during the eligibility period. Copy and paste works really well here.

Category: Select one category from the dropdown box. 

Word-count should be entered to the closest 500. For example, for a book of 45,789 words, enter 46,000. If you are entering a short work from a collection (i.e. anthology), and the short work contains 15,425 words, you should enter 15,500.

Sexual Heat, Explicit Language, Excessive Violence, Religious Content: These items require you to select the rating you deem appropriate for these content areas.

File Upload: When you click on "Browse" your computer will open your File Manager. Find and select your entry after checking the filename! If it is not in the format Category-Title.pdf, you must rename it. See "How do I rename my entry file" in this list of FAQs for the correct format and help renaming your file.

Be aware, our system can't read and only knows that something was entered in the upload field. It will not verify that you've entered the correct book or that it's named properly. We're looking for a smarter system that will work for chocolate.

Repeat all steps for Entry Two, if you paid for two entries. Otherwise continue to the Spam Check and click "Submit."

If all the sections have been completed and contain the correct information--at least as far as our system knows--your entry will be uploaded and your information will be added to our records. You will see a notice at the top of the webpage, after you click "Submit," that will tell you that your entry was received as well as a confirmation email at the email address you provide us.

And if you still have trouble, you can ask the Competitions Chair for further assistance.

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PDF is a universally accessible format which can be read on a PC, MAC, or most other portable electronic devices.

Check with your publisher. If you can't get a copy from your publisher, you can usually convert other formats into PDF by using a free conversion program. We recommend Calibre (http://calibre-ebook.com/). Calibre has been used successfully by many people in the past and it's pretty easy to use.

Please note that the content, not necessarily the format, of the work must be identical to any other version of this work that is or has been offered for sale to the public. If you convert your file, you need to let us know so we'll be aware of any issues that might come from the conversion.

EPIC's eBook Competition is for electronic books which have been professionally published and are for sale to the public. Your entry should be a PDF version, or a converted PDF version, of what any customer might purchase.

We have received a staggering number of Advance Reading Copies and a few obvious Word-generated PDF versions of manuscripts. When your filename or book includes such things as "ARC," "for review only," "edited version," or "print proof," or has track changes in it, believe it or not, it receives closer scrutiny. If any uploaded file is found to be an ARC, edited manuscript file, proof or galley, or any other non-finalized-published book, it will be disqualified.

DRM stands for Digital Rights Management and it is one method used to prevent theft or unauthorized distribution of copyrighted intellectual property such as an eBook, movie, or audio recording. DRM protection prevents an unauthorized person from opening or playing digital material and, for eBooks, that means an unauthorized person can't open the book and read it.

Since it would be very difficult to provide electronic keys, or other access methods, to all our judges, we require non-DRM entries.

If you do not have access to a non-DRM version of your work, you will need to contact your publisher and ask them to send you a non-DRM version.

If files are not named properly, it takes longer to arrange the entries by category and get them assigned to judges. This delays the judging process. If we can move through the judging process expeditiously,  the finalists are selected sooner and that means more promotion time for you! And less stress on our volunteer staff.

Please take a look at the rules for categories and renaming files.  You can also refer to the FAQs on this topic.

EPICDroneMascotThe Competitions Drones thank you for working with us on this. It means we'll get fewer beatings.

TAGS: eBook

Pay attention to the category codes. These are listed in the rules. If you don't use the correct code, your book won't be placed in the correct category.

Once you rename your file, it may move in your File Manager since File Manager likes file names in alphabetical order.

Naming your file:

  • Open your PDF file and, under File at the top of the window, select Save As. A dialogue box will open, most likely showing the current file name and location.
  • Type in the new filename, being careful not to add any spaces between the category code, the hyphen, and the title of the work.
  • Double-check that the file type didn't change and is still PDF.
  • Click Save. Once you click Save you have just saved a copy of your original file, just with a different name.

A simpler, and faster, method:

  • Open your file manager. Find your PDF file.
  • Right click on the filename.
  • Select Rename. The name box will become blank and you can type in the correct new name.
  • Hit Return/Enter. Voila! Your book has been renamed.
  • Once you rename your file, it may move in your File Manager since File Manager likes file names in alphabetical order.

If you have any questions, please contact the Competitions Chair.

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While we don't generally give advice on category placement, perhaps we can help by reviewing the categories.

Childrens': Books entered here would be picture books or easy-to-read books, targeted at kids 9 or so or younger. (See Young Readers for books targeted toward older kids.)

Contemporary fiction (Formerly Mainstream fiction)The main criteria are that it is set in contemporary times and cannot be characterized in another genre category. These are usually more about people and their situations, problems and conflicts, with deeper characterization, etc., than what might be found in genre works. Women's fiction would fit well in this category unless there's a strong romance plot.

What does "contemporary times" mean? We've asked judges, EPIC members, and entrants and come to the conclusion that everybody has his/her own opinion about what constitutes contemporary versus historical. We ask our judges to be flexible in this regard. If a book centers around an event of huge historical significance, such as 9/11, it can be considered Historical. See Historical for more on this.

Erotica: Characters explore their sexuality with no expectation on anyone's part that the relationship will last. (See Romance.) The sex is graphic, imaginative, and sometimes, no-holds-barred. Romance novels should not be entered as erotica, even if they are very erotic.

Remember, graphic sex does not Erotica make.

Fantasy/Paranormal: There are distinct differences between Paranormal and Fantasy. We combined these categories as these genres reflect occurrences outside the "normal" realm.

Fantasy is usually set in a realm, world, universe, or alternate reality, not of Earth. Characters often have magical powers or can wield magic as a tool. Good normally prevails. Non-human denizens of the fantasy realm tend to be more mythological: dragons, three-headed dogs named "Fluffy."

Paranormal stories are set in the world we know, but include an element of the "weird": vampires and werewolves, psychics and ghosts, time travelers, for example.

Historical: Stories set in a recognizable historical period. As we move farther into the 21st century, the time period for historical fiction continues to advance. Stories set in the 20th century, and even the 21st century, may be considered historical if the main setting is centered around a historical event, such as 9/11.

Be aware that judging is subjective. While we ask our judges to be flexible in regard to placement of works in the Historical category which are set in the late 20th or 21st centuries, it may be a stretch for some of them. This may affect the way they score a work like this.

Horror: More than gore and slashing, horror is best when it's psychologically horrifying, when the author conveys a sense of dread, terror, fear. The antagonist is known or unknown, but always malign. H.P. Lovecraft noted that horror has to have "an atmosphere of breathless and unexplainable dread..." 

Spiritual: The main characteristic of the Spiritual is the influence of the character's faith on the plot. The character's beliefs can be from any practice, though thus far most entries have been from the Christian perspective. These books need not be G-rated, but the level of sexual content and graphic language and violence should reflect the target audience's sensibilities. 

Mystery: A sleuth, professional or amateur, resolves an unknown or unexplained situation (a mystery). The level of danger can be minimal or large, particularly in murder mysteries, where the sleuth can be in danger of being the murderer's next victim.

Non-fiction: The name says it. These works are factual; examples are a biography, a cookbook, a self-help book. 

Science Fiction: Science or technology within the realm of possibility, even if remote possibility. Normally set in the future or on other planets, science fiction may also be set in contemporary or historical times and be Earthbound. Space travel, mechanistic time-travel (a la H.G. Wells), futuristic worlds where technology drives society, dinosaurs created from frog DNA, are all elements of the science fiction genre. Asimov, Herbert, Verne, Crichton are all names to keep in mind.

Suspense/Thriller: In a suspense novel, the threat is normally individual. There are political thrillers (threat to country or the world) and detective thrillers (our main character is in a kill-or-be-killed situation). Psychological thrillers may have an individual who is stalked by an unknown adversary. In a techno-thriller, technology is a big part of the story, such as in The Hunt for Red October. The main difference between Suspense/Thriller and Mystery is the level of stakes and the atmosphere. Suspense/thrillers are usually more tense and dark than mysteries.

Romance covers a lot of ground. Our competition reflects this by having romance novels entered in the Romance sub-category which fits the overall plot. See other categories for more guidance. Regardless of which Romance category you enter, the story must have a central love story and an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending, "happily ever after," even if only for now.

Young Adult: This category is no longer included. With the advent of the Harry Potter series, books for older kids (12 through 16) have been shown to hold their own in competition with their adult counterparts. So, the author must know his audience. If the book is targeted to older readers, consider entering the category appropriate for the content, i.e. historical in Historical, romance in the suitable Romance category. For kids from 8 to 13 or so, see Young Reader.

Young Reader: Books entered in this category may be marketed as "middle-age" and targeted toward kids ages 8 to 13 or so. While these books are targeted toward a younger audience, the stories should be populated with strongly drawn characters and meaningful action. A single viewpoint establishes and sustains the connection to the reader. Language must be age-appropriate.

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Graphic sex scenes do not an erotica make.

Erotica is a specific genre which features explicit details and is more focused on sexual exploration, experimentation, and the seeking of pleasure as its own justification rather than the development of any lasting romantic relationships. This is not to say that the protagonists of a work of erotica can't find lasting love, i.e. the happily ever after or happy for now ending of a romance, but it is not a requirement of the genre.

Erotic romances are a blending of two genres, where explicit words and details are used, but the story finishes with emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending. If your book follows the conventions of the romance genre, that is, the romantic protagonists fall in love and form a lasting relationship, then it's a romance. In general, if it's a romance, it's a romance - even if it's hot, hot, hot.

And by the way, paranormal would probably need to go in a Fantasy/Paranormal category where the elements specific to those categories would not affect the judging so much.

In the final analysis, you must decide where your book will best fit. 

Short stories and novellas from anthologies must be submitted using the complete anthology..."as sold" version.  Yes, that is crazy!  But it works for us.  Here are examples to demonstrate the process of entering a story from an anthology.

You have a 10,000-word romance story, The Virgin Schoolteacher, published in an anthology, Stories from the Wild West. The word count requires it be entered in the Romance Short Works (RZ) category. Your filename would be RZ-TheVirginSchoolteacher. Refer to "How Do I Rename My Entry File?"

Your 23,000-word fiction mystery novella, A Bad Day for Bill, is from the anthology Gumshoe Diaries. The word count falls between 20,000 (the maximum for Short Works) and 30,000 (the minimum for the novel-length categories). You have to decide whether it would fare better in the Fiction Short Works category (FZ) or in the Fiction Mystery category (FM).  Refer to the FAQ "How Do I Rename My Entry File?"

One more? Still reading? Okay.

You have two stories (or more) from the anthology Drones Ahoy! You enter a 5,000-word story, Hello, Sailor, and a 22,000-word novella, Hey, I'm Drowning Here. The shorter story, let's say it's a romance, must be entered in Romance Short Works (RZ). The novella (since it is longer) can be entered in either the Short Works or a full-length category. Let's say your novella is a horror novella and you decide to enter it in the Horror (HO) category. Refer to "How Do I Rename My Entry File?" and save each work as its own file. You now have multiple copies of the complete anthology, all with different filenames.

Yeah, it's crazy. And yes, we understand that means that we may receive multiple copies of the same anthology, but this system helps when we assign entries to our judges. We need a separate file for each entry. Otherwise the Competition Drones will pull out every strand of their silky blue hair! You don't want that, do you?

There are any number of reasons for an entry to be disqualified. Here are the most frequently encountered ones:

An entry is downloaded with the filename 919954867.pdf.

The right filename allows us to figure out which file belongs to which entrant. If you do not follow our naming criteria, we can't know which weirdly named file is yours. The upload form has a field called "Filename," where you type your filename. Correctly typing your filename will not affect the actual name of your file. Check out "How Do I Rename My Entry File?" This FAQ walks you through naming your upload file.

Advance Reading Copy or Review Galley

Seriously? Yeah, we've received ARCs and Review copies. Obviously, you don't sell ARCs or review copies, so don't send them to us.

Previously entered books

Did you decide that even though it didn't win last time, you should give it another shot? Shame on you! If it's been entered before, even with a different publisher or title, or any other changes that you've made to it, it's still the same book.

Inappropriate content

We are a pretty open-minded group at EPIC and are, as an organization, dedicated to inclusion and acceptance, but our rules indicate where we draw the line.

We do recognize that historical accuracy may allow for very young protagonists and you'd have to live under a very large rock not to know that kids are engaging in sexual activity at a young age, but pedophilia is a crime. The situation may be used as a plot element, but we don't accept books that depict pedophilia as an acceptable life choice.

We're huge fans of the paranormal and follow the general consensus that states shape-shifters are not animals, so the bestiality prohibition does not apply. Same deal for aliens who evolved from cats, dragons, skunk bears, whatever. They're all good...really good. Zombies may be undead, but that means they're not corpses...right?... so, in the icky case of zombie sex, well...okay. But sex with corpses...stone-cold dead corpses, is too icky...yuck...pew...blech.

Snuff...well, do we really need to explain this? If you don't know what that is then you don't write it, so don't worry about it.

There are some actions that over-step most people's comfort zones; using children and animals in form of unacceptable fashion is one of them. There are acts which, though there are clearly consenting adults who enjoy them, are so far out of the mainstream that we will not ask our judges to read about them.

EPIC's eBook Competition is devoted to books in electronic format. This goes back to our beginning when an eBook wasn't considered a "real" book. In those days, most of EPIC's membership was only published in electronic format. With the advent of Print on Demand, our publishers were able to also offer the print versions at a reasonable price.

So, why do we still only accept eBooks? Simply, that's what our competition is about.

The benefit to you, the entrant, is that you only have to send us a single file per entry. The benefit to us is that we don't need physical facilities to receive and warehouse physical books or hire staff to manage, package, and ship books to judges. We just don't have a lot of overhead, so we don't have to charge a lot for entry fees. Another benefit to you!

Judges are published authors, publishers, and editors. Our judges are not necessarily EPIC members, but must have a professional connection to the publishing industry.

When your book is entered, you will provide information about the content. This makes it possible for the Judge Coordinator to place your book in the hands of judges who will be predisposed to like it. From there, it's up to you!

Three judges are assigned to every entry in each round of judging. The judging rounds are:

Preliminary: The judges read the first three chapters, much as an acquisitions editor would. They evaluate these opening chapters and their scores are used to determine whether a book should move on.

First: Judges read the entire book and evaluate it as a whole work. They score the book on judging areas provided in the scoring form. These scores are used to determine the finalists.

Final: Three judges will read all the finalists in a category. They will rate and rank the books. Their ratings and rankings are used to determine the winner.

If your book was entered in a previous year then, no, you may not enter it again.

If you never entered the book in question, and it was republished within the eligibility period for the competition, then you may enter it.