It’s important to submit your books for awards. There are hundreds of thousands of self-published books hitting the (physical and virtual) shelves every year. Because the market is saturated, everyone is looking for ways to stand out from the crowds. One way to do that is to submit your book to one of the many new and established book awards .
Validation, potential prize money, constructive feedback from judges and just plain exposure can go a long way toward successful marketing and sales of your book. That “Prize Winner” sticker on the cover of your book can really go a long way.
If your book manuscript has not yet been published, there are even contests that invite writers to submit unpublished works. Winners and finalists of these contests greatly improve their chances of being offered publishing opportunities.
The Power of Submission
Matt Cox, the winner of the Tony Lothian Prize remarked that the award had a huge impact in giving him a foothold in the industry: ‘I have been given many fantastic introductions, some of which I am sure will prove hugely important. Because your writing has somehow been endorsed by the literary establishment, people think they aren’t taking too big a risk on you and feel happy to recommend you to others. Most importantly, however, it provided the motivation for a career change. I resigned from my job in order to make a living from copywriting. I doubt I would have made such a radical change without the boost of winning. So, in a round about way the Prize will have had a huge impact.’
However, with so many contests out there, how should indie authors choose which to enter?
Submission Tips and Tricks
Yes, some awards programs charge entry fees, but authors should know that sometimes, awards are mostly about giving praise to outstanding writers and promoting their work. For new writers, the most significant effect of being shortlisted or winning a literary award isn’t the prize money, the marketability, the prestige or the public appearances; it’s the validation of your work.
As for the fees associated with some submissions? Consider these a part of your marketing budget. Don’t have one? You should check out our Financial Tools section of the Storiad site. You can find more information here. It can really help you.
Because competition is high, there are some key points that authors should focus on. The most important?
•Read the rules before you submit your books for awards!
•Research the award and the group giving it. Do they align with the content of your work? Do they have negative feedback?
•Read the entry form carefully. You need to be sure you’re not signing away any of your rights to the contest sponsors. You should clearly understand every provision and guideline. A very important rule to follow is this. It’s ok to pay a fee to enter an award contest, but it’s absolutely not ok to be expected to pay a fee in order to accept a prize. You don’t pay a judge to get up on a podium after you’ve won the race!
•Meet the contest deadlines.
•Submit your work in the correct format.
•Create a well-designed cover image.
•Choose the proper category for your book and find contests that best fit your genre and audience. Sometimes, you might want to enter your title in more than one category, giving yourself multiple chances to win. It costs a bit more, but it leads to your work being judged by more than one person.
•Be sure your work has been properly copy-edited before you submit it for judging! Spelling, grammar, and punctuation do matter. Judges will look at all elements of your work. , Style, plot, character development, clarity of vision, engagement, use of language, mechanics and many other criteria go into a judge’s overall process.
•Speaking of judges…be sure to research the quality and reputation of the judges. If contests don’t provide information about the judge’s background and there’s not a lot of information on the search engines, that’s a certain red flag.
National, International and Main Street
Keep in mind that national contests attract far more entries, which dramatically increases the competition. Most contests name only one winner in each category, plus several finalists. Regional, state, and local contests (such as those sponsored by local writers associations) can attract fewer entries. Sometimes, winning a smaller, local contest can can bring you more recognition online, in print and on social media.
Whether your book is completed or just in manuscript form, why not submit your books for awards? It might just do wonders for your confidence and self-esteem. Putting your work out into the world can be frightening. Getting something back can give you the confidence to know that you can succeed as a writer and that there are influential people that agree with you!
Some Useful Links
Here are links to some recommended book awards for indie authors. This is not even close to being a complete list, but it’s a good place to start. And if you want a much more robust list and a way to contact each award site, you can find all of them inside of the Storiad marketing tools, where we have nearly 50,000 unique industry contacts.
- Foreword Reviews’ IndieFab Awards
- The Eric Hoffer Book Award
- Next Generation Indie Book Awards
- The BookLife Prize
- National Indie Excellence Book Awards
- IPPY Awards (Independent Publisher Book Awards)
- Readers’ Favorite Awards
- Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards
- International Book Awards
- Page Turner Awards
- USA Best Book Awards
- Ben Franklin Book Awards
- Reader Views Literary Awards
- Parents Choice Awards
- Moonbeam Book Awards
- Purple Dragonfly
- Global eBook Awards
- Independent Press Awards
- NonFiction Book Awards
- Next Generation Book Awards
- Romance Writers of America
- Mystery Writers of America
- Society for Children Book Writers and Illustrators
- Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of Americ
Jud Meyers is the VP of Sales and Marketing at Storiad. He was previously the Global Director of Sales at IDW Publishing, Director of Sales and Marketing at Humanoids Publishing and a proud book retailer for nearly twenty years.