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Everyone Loves a Winner

In the book world, being a winner has its advantages

Although many authors are hesitant to compete, there is no way to win without playing the game. There are a number of book contests that specialize in self-published books. These contests give out multiple awards per genre, allowing authors to choose which categories best suit their book. When the award is given by an honored and recognizable program, the rewards of entering a book competition are worth winning, and becoming an award-winning author has never been easier.

Win publicity

There is no better way to get publicity and credibility in one fell swoop than through book awards. For almost all book competitions, winners and finalists in each category are listed on the contest’s site.

These online shout-outs are perfect additions to any marketing plan. Post a link on your social media profiles and direct people to the award listing from your website. Claire Power Murphy was named a finalist in multiple categories in the 2010 International Book Awards for her book Preserved to Serve.

“As the awards accrue, there are an increasing number of hits on my website,” she said.

Once you have won an award, contact your local news media via a press release, e-mail or in person. An award-winning local author may make a good news story.

Many awards also offer major publicity as a prize. The National Indie Excellence Awards offered a media campaign, a print publicity campaign and advertising in the Radio-TV Interview Report—a tool interviewers use to find guests and more—to the winners of the 2010 awards.

Win expert critiquing

Nearly all self-published book awards are judged by a panel of industry experts. Some competitions ask for multiple copies of a book to be submitted so that each judge may read a copy. Some judges may provide you with comments about the book. Even if they don’t, the results of the competition will show whether or not a book is endorsed by publishing experts.

Win credibility

Being listed as an award winner shows that a book has made it through the scrutiny of industry experts and has been endorsed by an awards program. Many competitions help to spread the word by offering award stickers.Once the author has ordered copies of the book, he or she can add the award stickers to the front covers of the books.

Authors Leonie Tremaine and Amy Albani entered their book Adios, Aries, written under the pen name Leonie Albani-Tremaine, in the 2010 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. When Adios, Aries was listed as a finalist in its category, they purchased the program's award stickers to use for their book's promotional purposes.

“It looks very impressive,” Tremaine said. “I’m sure it will have an impact on whether or not a reader takes a chance on a new author.”

Award stickers aren’t a necessity for distinguishing an award-winning book from the rest. Simply identifying it as “award-winning” will do wonders. Include awards on your website, book blurbs and social media profiles.

Win confidence

Perhaps the most important aspect of winning a book award is the confidence it gives an author. Tremaine and Albani felt their work was validated when their book received recognition.

“Having someone decide that your work is worthy of an award makes you feel that all the blood, sweat and tears might be worth it after all,” said Albani. “And it acts as a bit of a friendly nudge to get busy writing the next one.”

Win without winning

It may be easier than you think to be recognized by a program. Competitions feature numerous—sometimes 60 or 70—categories to choose from and give a range of awards, from gold to honorable mention. You don’t have to win gold to win big. If you’re interested in entering a contest, check out these upcoming competitions.

Click here for a sampling of upcoming literary contests.