Contests and Awards
A number of sites host annual awards contests. Some require you to explicity enter your book and pay an entrance fee. Others, such as Kirkus and BestThrillers, simply choose a list of their best-reviewed titles at the end of the year. Winning, placing, or even an honorable mention can garner attention for your book.
Unless otherwise noted, most of these awards don’t heavily publicize winners. It’s up to you to promote your honors. Often, the mention of an award on your book’s Goodreads or Amazon page will encourage readers to take a closer look.
Exceptions to the publicity rule include the Booklife Prize and the IndieReader Discovery Award. These two will get you attention from publishers and agents.
Note that all of these awards are judged by human reviewers, and the judgments are highly subjective. It’s not uncommon for a title to win one contest and bomb in another. Writers are notoriously thin-skinned and don’t deal well with this kind of uneven feedback. When you enter a contest, have your meditation pillow / whiskey bottle nearby to help deal with the fallout.
These are presented in alphabetical order.
BestThrillers Best of the Year includes top-reviewed titles in various mystery, thriller and suspense genres. They only consider books they’ve reviewed. Typically, you’ll have your book reviewed just before the publication date. You can submit for review here.
The Booklife Prize, run by Publishers Weekly, is one of the most competitive and prestigious of indie awards. It includes a $5,000 prize and a profile in Publishers Weekly.
eLit Book Awards offers annual prizes in 65 categories. They focus on ebooks, so if your Kindle title is not available in print format, you’re still eligible to enter this one.
Foreword Indies offers prizes in a number of fiction and non-fiction categories. If you want to enter the contest, you’ll need an ISBN to register, which means that Kindle-only ebooks that have an ASIN but no ISBN are out.
IBPA Franklin Award offers prizes in a number of categories. This prize comes from the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA), whose membership offers a number of benefits for indie authors, including discounted listings on NetGalley. You’ll find contest entry instructions on the How to Enter page.
IPPY Awards “honor the year’s best independently published titles from around the world. The awards are intended to bring increased recognition to the thousands of exemplary independent, university, and self-published books released each year.” You can submit your title through their online entry form.
The IndieReader Discovery Award are highly competitive and well regarded. Awards include cash prizes and “exposure in major media outlets, including The Huffington Post and The Wall Street Journal, trade publications including Publisher’s Weekly, Shelf Awareness and GalleyCat/MediaBistro.” See their prizes and judging page for details.
At the end of each year, Kirkus Reviews publishes a list of the Kirkus Best Indie Books of the Year. Unlike most other contents that you have to explicitly enter, this list comes from books they’ve reviewed over the past twelve months. Kirkus’ standards are generally quite high. The only way to get on this list is to write a really good book and submit it for review.
The Kirkus Prize is open to both traditional and indie-published works. Books that earned a Kirkus starred review between November 1 of the prior year and October 31 of the current year are automatically entered. The grand prize pays $50,000.
The National Indie Excellence Awards honors top titles in a number of fiction and non-fiction categories.
Next Generation Indie Book Awards offer a grand prize for both fiction and non-fiction, plus awards for a number of genres and non-fiction topics.
Readers’ Favorite has award categories for just about every genre, sub-genre, and non-fiction topic.
Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards include a Grand Prize winner (worth $10,000) and $1,000 prizes for the following categories:
- Mainstream/Literary Fiction
- Genre Fiction
- Memoirs/Life Stories
- Early Readers/Children’s Picture books
- Middle-Grade/Young Adult
- Poetry Chapbooks
When promoting your book, be sure to mention other accolades your title has received including starred reviews from major players like Kirkus and Publishers Weekly, and any “best of” or “notable” commendations from other sources.
More Contests and Awards
IndiesToday maintains a list of additional indie awards and contests.