What Do Judges Look for in a PROSE Awards Entry?

by Syreeta Swann

Interviews with 2023 PROSE Judges

As submissions start to roll in for the 2023 PROSE Awards, our own Syreeta Swann, Chief Operating Officer here at the Association of American Publishers, asked veteran judge Peter Berkery for some insights into what makes a PROSE entry stand out. Peter is the Executive Director of the Association of University Presses (AUPresses). AUPresses is a partner for the PROSE Awards.

Syreeta Swann, Chief Operating Officer, Association of American Publishers
Peter Berkery, Executive Director, Association of University Presses

Judge Peter Berkery brings a publisher’s point of view to the 2023 PROSE judges panel, having served as Executive Director of the Association of University Presses (AUPresses) since 2013. Berkery also has extensive experience in government affairs and association management, and has a BA in Classical Studies from Boston College, both an MA and a JD from The American University, and a Master of Laws in Taxation from George Washington University.

Syreeta Swann: What do you look for in a submission?

Peter Berkery: Two things, I think: (1) the work itself advances scholarship in its discipline – or even pioneers a whole new field of inquiry; and, (2) the submission materials reflect the publisher’s belief in the work.

There’s nothing more disappointing to me as a judge than reading an entry form that’s simply a cut-and-paste of the jacket copy.

Syreeta Swann: What makes University, Professional and Scholarly Publishers unique in the publishing world?

Peter Berkery: AUPresses members share a commitment to editorial rigor, particularly as evidenced by thorough, thoughtfully-administered peer review. (The recently published 2nd edition of our Best Practices for Peer Review of Scholarly Books  is only the latest demonstration of our community’s high standards.)

This commitment bears ample fruit in the eyes of PROSE Awards judges as well: last year alone, university press publications won 30 of the 39 categories and received 4 of the top 5 prizes, including the ultimate PROSE Award honor, the R.R. Hawkins Award. 

Syreeta Swann: Can a book can be judged by its cover?

Peter Berkery: Always!!! Regardless of format or medium, production values matter, and are an important part of the overall value added by scholarly publishers. They definitely get mentioned when judges deliberate.

We thank Peter for taking the time to shed some light on the PROSE judging process and look forward to seeing the entries submitted for 2023! Over the next few weeks, look to our website to see insight from other 2023 PROSE Awards judges.

And don’t forget: submissions for the 2023 PROSE Awards will be accepted till Friday, November 19th. Learn more about the PROSE Awards here.