I know that many of you are in a pre-holiday frenzy right now, and the last thing you need is more pressure. Then again, it’s better to have lots of warning. If you’re a longtime visitor to AAR, you know what’s coming in January. But if you’re new to AAR, let us give you a heads-up now. Yes, even though 2011 isn’t over, we at AAR are getting ready for the AAR Annual Reader Poll for 2011 romances!

Voting in the 16th AAR Annual Reader Poll will begin on Monday, January 16, 2012 and will end two weeks later at midnight on Sunday, January 29th. The Annual Reader Poll has a long tradition at AAR, and is one of the highlights of the year here.

The categories we used last year worked quite well. By changing the previous category of Erotica to Romantica/Erotica and the category of Worst Romance to Most Disappointing Romance, we were able to announce winners quite easily in all of the categories. So we’re sticking with a good thing and will be going with the same categories this year (see the bottom of this post for a listing of all of the categories  that will be on the ballot this year).

Please don’t let the number of categories stop you from voting. While this year’s poll will include 21 categories, you only have to vote in six for your ballot to count. Based on our experiences the past few years, we can say that it’s a very rare reader indeed who votes in all of the categories. We receive many ballots with just six categories filled in, while the average reader votes in about ten categories.

Still worried about filling out a ballot? Well, you’re not alone. I’m not feeling particularly prepared to vote this year. Oh, I’ll vote. I always do. But I need to do a bit of cramming before January 16th rolls around.  While I keep a spreadsheet containing all of the books I review for AAR, I no longer keep detailed reading records of books I read for fun. I realize now that this has left me completely unprepared to vote in this year’s poll.

This weekend I plan to do a number of power searches at AAR to look for A, A-, B+, and probably even B reviews of 2011 romances.  I figure I’m bound to come across some super romances that I’ve managed to miss through this technique. With over a month before voting begins, I should have time to read a few of them. Will I vote in every category? No, I never do. But I definitely have my favorite categories that I always fill out. Best romance hero, heroine, and couple, as well as kickass heroine are always filled out on my ballot. And I always have an opinion on best romance and best contemporary romance. The rest just depend on my reading year, but I generally manage to vote in at least 10 categories.

Are there any books you hope to read before voting begins, or are you all set? Are there any categories that are your particular favorites? Are there any categories you never vote in?

We’re very excited about the Annual Poll, and look forward to reading all of your ballots. So, get reading!

Categories for Upcoming Annual Poll for 2011 Romance Novels:

Best Romance

Best Contemporary Romance

Best Romantic Suspense

Best Paranormal Romance

Best Historical Romance set in the U.K.

Best Historical Romance Not set in the U.K.

Funniest Romance

Biggest Tearjerker

Best Love Scenes (in a Mainstream Romance)

Best Debut Author

Best Series Romance

Best Chick Lit/Women’s Fiction

Best Romantica/Erotica

Best Romance Short Story

Guiltiest Pleasure Romance

Most Disappointing Romance

Best 2011 Characters in Romance Novels

Best Romance Hero

Best Romance Heroine

Tortured Hero

Kick-Ass Heroine

Best Romance Couple

– LinnieGayl AAR

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