There are limitless strategies devised to drive book publicity and generate sales. Whether it’s maintaining social media, mining micro-influencers, or tracking both with your editorial calendar, these tools serve the same purpose. What about one method that encompasses the results of all three? You might have a winner in books awards.
If you’re an author just starting out, you may think book awards are reserved for those established in the industry –or signed with the “Big 5” publishing houses. That isn’t necessarily the case. While big awards like PEN/America or the Pulitzer Prize tend to shine more favorably on well-known authors, there are other prestigious options that even offer cash prizes and opportunities to consult with experts in the business.
Much like any step in generating buzz around your book and book sales, selecting reputable awards takes scrupulous research. Some book awards, even those that are well known, serve only to line the pockets of those in charge. See what fellow authors are saying about your chosen award. There is no definitive verification process for these awards, which means that the most reliable information will be from others in your station. One list we consulted while building our award database can be found here, custom tailored by the Alliance of Independent Authors.
Researching awards and curating the perfect, realistic list also depends on your budget. Many book awards have an application fee, and additional fees per category in which you submit. Some also require that you pay a fee for the subsequent social media boosting and online advertising that would accompany your win. If your budget is limited, don’t worry; there are book awards that do not require entry/additional fees. Looking for book awards local to your state or town will greatly reduce, and sometimes all-together cut out that entry fee -you also save on travel expenses that way!
While you can find book awards with no entry fee, it is worth investing the money for others. You might even see a return tenfold on your investment. A recent Authors Guild study revealed that book awards and prizes, along with advances, royalties, foreign sales, serial rights, reprint/permission rights, and mass media rights comprise writer income on average.
Putting aside dollars and cents, there are priceless advantages to winning awards. Organizations like The North Street Book Prize and The Indie Author Project Regional Contests offer opportunities to consult with established authors and publishers, placement of a piece detailing your win in reputable publications, and book promotion at local hotspots. These awards will often do email blasts announcing your win and plug across media platforms in conjunction with the other prizes.
What’s our proof that this stuff actually works? Recently, our indie authors Douglas Wood and David Finkle won categories in the 2018 Independent Press Awards. Doug won Humor & Wit for his book Asshole Attorney, and David won Distinguished Favorite in Humor & Wit for his book Humpty Trumpty Hit a Brick Wall.
If they can do it, so can you!