Book contests are a wonderful way for self-published authors to build upon their platforms and cultivate credibility. And yes, while they’re occasionally the hallmark of snootiness, awards ought not to be overlooked as the fantastic marketing tool they are! Not only will winning a book award (or two, or three) boost an author’s physical and social presence, they also create cross-searchable entries online and, as such, play a big role in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategies.
Yes, winning awards make for a great addition to your book listings on Amazon, Goodreads, and other websites, and they also give you a great excuse to throw a party or a book reading and possibly even release a new celebratory edition of your book! Awards do all these things–and they also perform a truly critical service in affirming your hard work.
It has been hard work, what you’ve accomplished. But awards aren’t just about you, they’re also about your readers! There are so many books in the world, and such fierce competition online and in bookstores for customers’ attention, that readers can easily be swamped by the sheer number of options available. Awards lend distinction, dare we say credibility, to help your book stand out in a crowded marketplace.
An award win or nomination increases your exposure in several key ways, including:
- Fleshing out your resume, biography, and social capital;
- Boosting your book’s marketing presence with feature articles in publications or online, in press releases, and elsewhere;
- Award badges which can be featured on your book’s cover, rendering it eye-catching both in stores and in online retail listings;
- Last but not least, several contests (including those held by Writer’s Digest and ForeWord Magazine) are attached to cash winnings, which can go a long way toward further marketing efforts for your award-winning opus.
It’s true that many contests have deadlines based upon the book’s publication date, so it is in every author’s best interest to enter as many contests as possible as soon after publication as possible. But there are other contests that don’t depend upon publication dates (or at least, not as strictly), so even if your book has been published for a few years, your marketing efforts would be well-served to enter contests for which you are still eligible.
Published Outskirts Press authors can browse through the free Top National Contests & Awards ebook in their Book Marketing Bookshelf from within their Publishing Center for a vetted listings of many of the best book awards to enter (many of which have upcoming deadlines for submission). Here’s just a sample of some of the awards with upcoming deadlines:
Top National Contests and Book Awards
USA Best Book Awards
- Deadline: Fall
- Website: USABookNews.com
- Details: This contest is another option to spread your marketing dollars, as they accept manuscripts up to two years after publication. All winners receive industry and media exposure.
Benjamin Franklin Awards
- Deadline: Fall/Winter
- Website: IBPABenjaminFranklinAwards.com
- Details: Held by the Independent Book Publishers Association, the annual Benjamin Franklin Awards is one of the premiere contests in independent publishing today, where Gold Medal winners in each category receive an engraved crystal trophy acknowledging their accomplishment.
Reader Views Literary Awards
- Deadline: December of your copyright year
- Website: ReaderViews.com/literaryawards
- Details: With numerous categories and various awards per category (including cash prizes and publicity packages), the Reader Views Literary Awards should not be missed. And it’s easy to miss them! They have the earliest deadline among all these contests, so plan early.
Details: Held by the prestigious review journal Foreword Reviews, the INDIEFAB Awards are a cornerstone of the independent publishers marketing foundation. Not only are winners featured in the print and digital editions of Foreword Reviews, but they play a role in a national publicity campaign.
Eric Hoffer Book Awards
- Deadline: January
- Website: HofferAward.com
- Details: One submission automatically makes you eligible for numerous category considerations, including most-thought provoking work, best cover, best first-time author, and best over-all book, which comes with a $2,000 Grand Prize.
The Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year Awards
- Deadline: By invitation only
- Website: OutskirtsPress.com
- Details: Every year Outskirts Press recognizes one book as our official Best Book of the Year with this prestigious award that comes with a $1,500 Grand Prize for the winning author. The prerequisite for becoming one of the three special Semi-Finalists in this contest is winning a Colorado Independent Book Publishers Association EVVY Award.
Each award presents its nominees and winners with unique advantages, from cash and promotion in print and online magazines to possible literary representation in areas such as film and foreign rights, to promotion at public events such as the Book Expo of America. But each award submission process also presents its own unique challenges, from entry fees to stringent eligibility requirements to the logistics of producing and mailing book copies to reviewers and judges–and as with many other marketing opportunities, this process can eat up a lot of a self-publishing author’s time, money, and energy. And with the holiday season rapidly approaching, it’s easy to get distracted and miss the submission deadlines entirely. Don’t let that happen to you!
If you’ve published with Outskirts Press, why not let us take care of the details? We’d love to help you, and we’d love to take your book to the red carpet! But even if you choose to do it all yourself, make sure you do it. Winning a book award for your published book is truly one of the most amazing feelings! There’s nothing quite like it. Here’s to your great success!