Self-Publishing a Book: Taking Advantage of Awards and Contests

by | Apr 16, 2024 | Book Marketing Basics

Reading Time: ( Word Count: )

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Book awards and contests can be a great way to give your author brand a boost if you’re self-publishing a book. If you’ve never considered participating in a book award or contest, I hope this podcast recap will intrigue you enough to consider it. It’s a great book marketing enhancement and a great way to give your book a leg-up in a cluttered market!

Why We Love Book Awards and Contests

Book awards offer recognition for your hard work, especially when self-publishing a book and developing an author brand. They do this in the form of blurbs or mentions and often things you can use on your website. Which leads to being able to use them as a book marketing tool to boost your book’s credibility.

Book awards and book contests also allow you to stand out in a crowded market, particularly for self-published authors, which for many readers of this blog post, will be key! And of course, it’s a great thing to add to your Amazon book page for sure! And, since we’re talking about adding these accolades, don’t forget to add these to your website as well as across social media!

Finally, it can be an opportunity to get media attention – especially locally. Think: local author wins big book award! Your local media will love that.

Choosing the Right Contest

Because contests can be money makers for the company running the contest, but offer very little benefit to the author, you’ll want to look for red flags. Things like contests with excessive entry fees and upsells. You should pay an entry fee but upsells in terms of “marketing help” are a non-starter. They tend to really push these on authors who are self-publishing a book too, because they assume they can use all the help they can get.

Here are a few things to look out for:

  • Make sure to research the organization running the contest and its reputation. The Alliance of Independent Authors does a great job of collecting a list of reputable contents, I’ll post the link below.
  • Ensure the contest judges books within your genre or sub-genre. Too often I’ve seen authors submit books to the wrong genre, so be sure that you’re submitting your book to the right genre and sub-genre and that the contest offers that as a consideration. If they don’t, find one that does. Putting your book in the wrong genre, or a “close enough” genre won’t help you get any closer to a win.

Finally, look for contests that accept self-published books, as many now welcome indie authors. And if your book isn’t done yet, you may be able to find contests that judge unfinished work. So whether it’s a book or a short story, you may be able to find a contest that fits your needs!

How to Maximize Your Book Award Wins

I always suggest to authors to use every tool in their toolbox, this includes book awards and contests. Promote your award or honorable mention in your newsletter, on social media, and your website. It’s also good to highlight your awards when networking with other authors or seeking feature swaps. Awards and even honorable mentions really go a long way to building credibility! Adding these to your media room is a really quick way to do this, too because if you’re doing some networking for social media takeovers, newsletter swaps or speaking events (and book signings!) I can almost guarantee you that whoever you’re targeting is going to be looking at your media room.

I mentioned this before but it’s worth repeating: add these to your Amazon book page as well as other retail platforms and keep in mind that when updating your Amazon book page, you may be asked to submit the necessary documentation to back up your award claims. So keep that handy! Ensure you’re prepared to substantiate your achievements with solid proof.

Start the Book Awards Submission Process Early

This is something you’ll definitely want to plan ahead for because some contests want current year books while others want not-yet-released titles. I recommend going through the list and planning ahead. The bigger contests tend to give you more time, like IBPA’s Ben Franklin awards and use books from the prior year, so be sure to check the contest guidelines before submitting.

The contest may ask you for information beyond just sending them your book, so prepare all the required paperwork and book descriptions for entry. This may include adding in a marketing plan for your book – or what you’ve already done to market it!

Participating in book awards and contests can greatly help with your book exposure and overall credibility as an author and there’s a lot you can do with the awards or mentions once you get them. Tune into our podcast to find out more creative ways to maximize book awards and contests!

Resources and Free Downloads

Download our free monthly book marketing planner.

Download our free Reader Profile Brainstorm.

A helpful list of book awards and contests.

Our full podcast episode on book awards and contests.

7 tips for better book pricing.

How to promote your novel to the right audience.

The dangers of getting feedback and advice from friends and family.

What the hell is BookTok and how do you use it?

Getting permission to use content in your book. You’ll be surprised!

Check out all the episodes of our book promotion podcast anywhere you listen to podcasts!

Be sure to sign up for our newsletter on the right-hand side of our blog homepage. If you haven’t opened a recent one your registration may have lapsed.

Follow us on Instagram for book marketing tips and some much-needed levity!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *