How do you receive products?
There are two ways we receive products; either physically or electronically.
Every year at Gen Con, we approach publishers and remind them that they can submit their products at the ENnies booth for the next year. This will not only give the judges ample time to review their products but it will save the company itself on shipping; it really is in the best interest of the publisher to do it. Some publishers take us up on that offer and some do not. Some want to but don’t have any copies left to submit, which is great for them so we don’t complain.
If a publisher is submitting physical products, they can use the pre-printed labels on the Rules and How to Enter page to put on their boxes. They then ship their products to each judge and Hans Cummings, our Submissions Coordinator. They should also fill out the submission form first before sending any product.
If a publisher is submitting electronic products they should fill out the submission form first before sending anything. They should then e-mail their electronic submissions to Hans Cummings, our Submissions Coordinator.
How do you keep track of products?
When someone, whether it be a judge or the Submissions Coordinator, receives a physical product, they update a spreadsheet we use to keep track of submissions. There are two benefits to doing this; one, it lets other people know to expect a package soon and, two, we can make sure that everyone receives the products the publishers have sent and don’t have to worry about missing products.
When the Submissions Coordinator receives an electronic entry, he will also update the spreadsheet. He will then upload the product to a Dropbox to which each judge has access. They can then download it, updating the spreadsheet when they do, and start to review it.
At this point, each judge reviews products in their own way. It is left up to them to determine how exactly to do that. We have a private Google group set up for them to discuss products amongst themselves. They are given a date by which all of the nominations must be finalized in order to give us time to prepare them for announcement to the public and for the voting booth. Submissions are usually slow and steady until about February/March, at which point they come in waves. We remind publishers throughout the year to submit their products as early as possible to allow the judges ample time to review them but we still have publishers who wait until close to the submission deadline. The deadline is always posted on the Rules and How to Enter page.
After the submission deadline, the judges have roughly two to three months to come up with a list of nominees. Discussions throughout the year help but these last few months will see a large increase in communication as judges come to a consensus on products. Once the deadline for said consensus is reached, we take that info and prepare for the announcement to the public.
So how come some categories are non-existent during the final nominations?
We get this question a lot. For example, if you look at the list of categories, you’ll see Best Software. But if there are not at least five quality candidates that the judges deem worthy of a nomination, then the software that is nominated will get rolled up in to the parent category of Best Aid/Accessory. This is why we want so many people to submit. We would rather have a category of all miniatures for Best Miniature. But if we don’t get enough, we have to make it a Best Miniatures Product category instead. So if you see a product you like, contact the publisher and ask them to submit! If they don’t submit it, the judges can’t review it and possibly nominate it.
What happens after the nominees are announced?
At this point, the judge’s job is effectively done but the staff’s gets tougher. At this point, we start the process of getting the voting booth ready with Luke Withrow, our Technical Coordinator. He goes to great lengths to make sure everything is up and running and works properly both on the voter’s end and on the back end.
We also encourage as many people as possible to run for the next year’s ENnies judge and update the website as the applications come in. We also make sure people know they can nominate any publisher for Fan Favorite Publisher and post the form online for it.
After voting, we take all of the winners and compile them. We create all of the material; the nominee’s certificates, the winner’s certificates, the booth flyers, and the ceremony program. Throughout the year, we also work with Gen Con on the logistics of the booth, ceremony room, etc. and we finalize the process. We get all the paper printed up and frame all of the winner’s certificates. We also put labels on the medals for the winners as well as separate the nominee’s certificates out to make it easier to pass them out at Gen Con.
All of this, electricity for the booth, setting up the cocktail reception, printing, frames, medals, and other miscellaneous expenses are why we have a Silent Auction as well as the Dream Dates; it’s not cheap.
What do you do at Gen Con?
After picking up the badges for the ENnies staff and judges, the staff sets up the booth. The first morning of Gen Con we then walk around and hand out nomination certificates, congratulating the publishers, getting to know them if we don’t already know them, and generally saying “hi.” Once the hall opens, we usually walk around and look for products to create packages for the ENnies Silent Auction. We ask for items from publishers and usually they are really nice and more than willing to donate to the cause.
Before the ceremony, we put the packages together and then take everything to the location of the ceremony/silent auction and get things set up.
The next day and the day after, we roam the hall talking to publishers, congratulating the winners, and asking people to submit product because it makes it easier on them. After the hall closes, we wait for a while for submissions and then pack up and head out.
So there you have it. That, in a large nutshell, is how the process works. It’s a lot of work but completely worth it. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them.