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Writing: 50 Book Awards Open To Self-publishers

Writing: 50 Book Awards Open to Self-publishers

Please note that the contests listed below have not been reviewed by ALLi’s Watchdog Desk. Readers are urged to visit our Awards & Contests Ratings feature for updated information.
Headshot of James Minter

British novelist James Minter

While some competitions refuse to allow entries from self-publishers, British novelist James Minter, with generosity typical of the indie scene, shares a list of awards whichwelcome indie authors – along with compelling reasons for entering. Please note: the inclusion of an award in this list does not mean the scheme is endorsed by ALLi – authors are advised to check carefully the details of any award programme before deciding whether entering is worth their while.

Discoverability is the word on every self-published author’s lips. Book awards are part of your arsenal to achieve discoverability. The majority of book purchases are made from existing authors who are known and trusted by readers, or through recommendation from friends, family, book clubs or the media.

In this fiercely competitive and teeming book world where readers are overwhelmed with choice, a book with an award immediately stands out from the crowd. It’s all about discoverability, and awards increase your discoverability. Awards have a number of benefits:

  1. They create interest in your book. This leads to more sales or other opportunities.
  2. A book displaying an award may cause someone to pick up your book while browsing.
  3. A book award will give you an edge and may be all the difference needed to propel your book into bestseller territory.
  4. When you win or get placed, you can say you are an “award winning author.” It sounds and is great, and gives the book a magic lift that comes from a third party endorsement.
  5. Book awards give your book a seal of excellence unequalled by other forms of media exposure. No reviews, nor articles, nor TV or radio interviews can compete with having an “Award Winning Book,” selected from hundreds of competing titles by experienced and professionally-trained judges.

Awards absolutely do matter. They add credibility and give readers / reviewers / reporters / agents / publishers the assurance a book is worthwhile. It takes the risk out of the equation. Gaining awards should be a central part of your book marketing strategy.

About the award list:

These fifty awards represent a range of competitions from ones that are on-going to monthly, annual or bi-annual for a variety of genres and book types. The details of the competitions are many and varied – submission criterion, deadlines, award dates, prizes, entry fees etc. but they all have one thing in common; they are open to self-publishers. They are listed here for convenience and are not endorsed by me or the Alliance. As ever on the internet, be scam savvy; check out the writers beware site http://www.sfwa.org/ since competition fees can be quite hefty.

Finally, this list is not definitive. If you know of more awards please email me so I can add them to the list. Good luck.

1 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?docId=1000633821
2 Axiom Business Book Awards http://www.axiomawards.com/
3 Beverly Hills Book Awards http://www.beverlyhillsbookawards.com/
4 Book Designer – Monthly eBook Cover Design Award http://www.thebookdesigner.com/2011/08/monthly-e-book-cover-design-awards/
5 Bookstore Without Borders’ LYRA Contest http://www.bookstorewithoutborders.com/for-authors/lyra-contest/
6 Book Festivals is a way of entering several competitions at the same timehttp://bookfestivals.com/
7 CIPA EVVY Awards http://www.cipacatalog.com/cipa-evvy-awards/
8 Digital Book Awards  http://www.digitalbookworld.com/the-digital-book-awards/
9 eLit Book Awards http://www.elitawards.com/
10 EPIC eBook Competition https://www.epicorg.com/competitions/epic-s-ebook-competition.html
11 Eric Hoffer Award http://www.hofferaward.com/
12 First Page Competition 2015 http://www.wordswithjam.co.uk/p/competitions.html
13 ForeWord Reviews – the Book of the Year Awards https://indiefab.forewordreviews.com/
14 Global eBook Awards http://globalebookawards.com/
15 Green Book Festival http://www.greenbookfestival.com/
16 Guardian Legend Self-published book of the month http://www.theguardian.com/books/series/self-published-book-of-the-month
17 Historical Novel Society International Award http://historicalnovelsociety.org/hns-awards/
18 Hollywood Book Festival http://www.hollywoodbookfestival.com/next.asp
19 Hugo Awards for Science Fiction http://www.thehugoawards.org/
20 Historical Novel Society International Award http://historicalnovelsociety.org/hns-awards/
21 Hollywood Book Festival http://www.hollywoodbookfestival.com/next.asp
22 IACP Cookbook Awards http://www.iacp.com/award/more/2014_iacp_awards
23 Independent Book Publishers Association – Benjamin Franklin Awards http://ibpabenjaminfranklinawards.com/
24 IndieReader Discovery Awards http://indiereader.com/authorservices/indiereader-discovery-awards/
25 International Book Awards http://www.internationalbookawards.com/home.html
26 International Rubery Book Award http://www.ruberybookaward.com/index.html
27 IPPY Awards http://www.independentpublisher.com/ipland/ipawards.php
28 Kindle Book Review’s 2015 Kindle Book Awards https://www.thekindlebookreview.net/2015-kindle-book-awards/
29 Living Now Book Awards http://www.livingnowawards.com/index.php
30 London Book Festival http://www.londonbookfestival.com/
31 Mom’s Choice Awards http://www.momschoiceawards.com/
32 Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards http://www.moonbeamawards.com/
33 National Indie Excellence Book Awards http://www.indieexcellence.com/
34 National Literacy Trust Children’s Author Prize http://www.literacytrust.org.uk/authorprize
35 Nautilus Book Awards http://www.nautilusbookawards.com/
36 New Apple Book Awards for Excellence http://www.newappleliterary.com/awards.html
37 New England Book Festival http://www.newenglandbookfestival.com/
38 New York Book Festival http://www.newyorkbookfestival.com/
39 Next Big Author Opening Chapter  http://www.thenextbigauthor.com/
40 Next Generation Indie Book Awards http://www.indiebookawards.com/
41 Paris Book Festival http://www.parisbookfestival.com/
41 Reader Views Literary Awards (Multiple awards) http://readerviews.com/literaryawards/
43 Readers Favourite Contest https://readersfavorite.com/annual-book-award-contest.htm
44 San Francisco Book Festival http://www.sanfranciscobookfestival.com/
45 Shelf Unbound Writing Competition for Best Self-Published Bookhttp://www.shelfmediagroup.com/pages/competition.html
46 Shirley You Jest Awards http://www.shirley-you-jest.net/#!
47 UK Arts Council Funded: YouWriteOn Book of the Year Awards http://www.youwriteon.com/info/competitions/
48 USA “Best Books” Awards http://www.usabooknews.com/2015usabestbookawards.html
49 WISHING SHELF Independent Book Awards [UK] http://www.thewsa.co.uk/
50 Writer’s Digest Self Published eBook Awards http://www.writersdigest.com/writers-digest-competitions/self-published-ebook-awards

UPDATE: This post has been superceded by our new Awards  & Contest Ratings page so please refer to that page for the latest information, which also includes a quality guide by our Services Watchdog.

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  1. Thanks for the list! This is very helpful as I am doing research to help market a book written by my wife. Being “self published” is becoming more and more viable but self marketing still has a learning curve. This list will help with this endeavor.

  2. Hi James!

    Great list, I found it quite helpful.

    Quick note: The Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award is not running any longer and has been replaced by the Kindle Scout Competition. Here’s the link – https://kindlescout.amazon.com/submit

    Also: I think making your links target=”_blank” would help, so the links are opened in a new tab, instead of people leaving your website.

    Again, I love the list!

    – Justin

  3. As a board member of the nonprofit organization James River Writers, I’d like you to add our upcoming contest to your list.

    Here is more information:

    James River Writers recognizes the writing talents and entrepreneurial skills of indie authors by continuing The Best Self-Published Novel Contest, which we started in 2014.
    Contest Details

    One first-prize winner will receive $500 and a ticket to the annual James River Writers Conference. The winner will be announced in October 2016 at the James River Writers Conference. Press releases will also recognize the winner.

    Two finalists each receive $200.

    More information here: http://www.jamesriverwriters.org/what-we-do/contests/best-self-published-novel-contest

  4. Thanks James for sharing list of awards that authors can get by self-publishing..Really…I was not aware of so many awards…
    I want to tell you that New York Book Festival Award link is facing problem..This problem is not coming to all..But to me and 4-5 persons…Can you look into it?
    Regards,
    Vickie

  5. […] “Discoverability is the word on every self-published author’s lips. Book awards are part of your arsenal to achieve discoverability. The majority of book purchases are made from existing authors who are known and trusted by readers, or through recommendation from friends, family, book clubs or the media.” – British Novelist James Minter (http://selfpublishingadvice.org/50-book-awards/) […]

  6. I have written 20 Christian books (www.amazon/matthew oye arikanki) and a poetry book titled indelible footprints. Presently I’m completing two novels. i have never entered for any awards. I want someone to help enter my books into any of the awards.
    I also want hardcopy publisher for my books

  7. Please consider adding information regarding the 2015 Readers Prefer Self-Published book award contest. There are lots of unique benefits to entering, and early-bird pricing ends on October 1!

  8. あなたは動揺を取得する必要があります!本当に、そのAは、すべて過去を見て、動揺取得する必要があります。一般に、これはあなたが物事を実現するためにinititiveを取ることができるようになります。撮影があなたのサイト上で見事な対象物質のこの種をオンにするための多くの感謝を

  9. I clicked on the link to Book Festivals, #6, and the competitions looked inviting. Then I did some research. All the competitions I clicked on had the same submission details and address – JM Northern Media. According to Writer Beware, these competitions “aren’t really festivals at all, but textbook examples of a moneymaking awards program.” It certainly pays to investigate!

  10. Hi James,

    I’m the manager of Foreword Reviews’ INDIEFAB Book of the Year Awards. I was hoping you can update your list and change ForeWord Reviews – the Book of the Year Awards to Foreword Reviews’ INDIEFAB Book of the Year Awards. Also here is the correct link https://publishers.forewordreviews.com/awards/

    The reason we have to charge a fee is that we run this one competition a year put on by our small indie magazine and we have expenses such as sending out the entries to librarians and booksellers for judging, if we could run this contest at no charge we would. We do this because of our love for indie books and authors. Thank you so much for updating!!

  11. I don’t see Literary Classics on your list of book award programs which accept self published book entries. They’d be a good one to add to that list.

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  13. I haven’t visited Writers Beware for some time but the last time I checked, the main reason for listing literary contests on that site was because Writers Beware says its wrong—-or a crime/fraud of some sort—to charge a fee to enter.

    I don’t think that is a good enough reason to list a literary contest on Writers Beware, because the National Book Awards (from the National Book Foundation) charges an entry fee of $135, and even books that are considered ineligible by the Foundation will not receive a refund.

    http://www.nationalbook.org/nbaentry.html

    In addition, even the Pulitzer charges a nonrefundable $50 dollar entry fee. I think there is also a fee to attend the prize luncheon for those who are nominated but I’m not sure.

    http://www.pulitzer.org/how_to_enter

    In conclusion, I suggest if you check Writers Beware and the only complaint against one of the contests in this list is they charge a fee, then ignore that advice. I think there must be clear evidence of some sort of fraud involved other than the fact that there is an entry fee.

    As long as the contest uses a panel of impartial judges (mostly anonymous who can’t submit their own work or judge authors who are friends) and everyone who submits doesn’t win a prize, then the odds favor the contest to be legitimate.

    For instance, when my work picked up honorable mentions from the San Francisco Book Festival, at the awards ceremony, I asked the organizer, who I do not know personally, the percentage of submissions that earned awards, and he told me less than 5% of submissions. I then asked him who the judges were, and he wouldn’t tell me—and that was the answer I wanted to hear. All he said is that they were people he trusted.

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  15. […] 4. I will enter contests I believe I can win, starting with this list from Aerogramme Writers’ Studio for January and February 2015.   This is the year I will also make a running list of Awards open to self-pubbed authors. […]

  16. Hi James

    The SPR Awards is our annual big competition at Self-Publishing Review. We just opened submissions for 2015, and the prize this year is an iPad or Kindle Fire as well as many other goodies. It’s open to all indie authors in fiction, non-fiction and shorts categories. Check out the site!

  17. Thanks for posting this list – I’ve heard from so many writer friends who have paid out a fortune for a little gold sticker to go on the front of their book covers and it’s always seemed a bit of a rip-off. So good to hear about others’ experiences with more reputable awards – my faith in competitions is restored! 🙂

  18. The Darrell Awards have accepted self-published works since they started. Please see our website for details & the Nomination Form. You can even self-nominate and there’s no fee. We do ask for a non-DRM ecopy or at least 2 printed copies for use of the Jury.

  19. I entered one of the ‘festivals’ listed in 2012 and ‘won’ first place in my division. I was excited about the award for twenty four hours until my son and I did some research on it. I then realized it was one of those ‘schemes’ and not worthwhile.

    James, if you are referring to a list of awards that Joel posted on his Book Designer website, it was from a few years ago. Also, if able to read some of the comments made at the time, others warned self-published authors about certain sites.

    Almost ten of the festivals on this list are run by one company and one person. As Orna said in a comment, “be vigilant.” The benefits that James refers to by entering these contests can be worthwhile and real, but only if it’s a ‘real’ contest.

    1. I incorporated and updated list from joel’s site. But as I sate and Alli reiterates, you need to be careful and no way am I or alli endorsing these awards. Feedback from all the Alli members will produce a more bulletproof list in the future …

  20. Thanks so much James, for compiling this useful resource for authors and with your permission, we would like to put it in our Resources Page in the member zone of our main website. Just a note too, adding to your advice to authors to be vigilant. Anything that reassures the reader that their money won’t be wasted has to be a good thing but too many “awards” are little more than money-making schemes for their organisers. As always, authors, do your research: who else has won the award? how good is their book? who’s standing behind the award? how much are the fees and are they commensurate with the prize? Good luck to all!

  21. A comprehensive list thanks James. I had success with the elit awards. It can get expensive and its worth thinking about the categories you nominate your book in.

      1. Thanks Orna, I had success in winning a bronze medal in the Aging/Death & Dying Category of the 2014 eLit awards. The eLit Awards are a global awards program committed to illuminating and honoring the very best of English language digital publishing entertainment.

  22. Thanks James.

    I wanted to share my personal experiences about awards.

    I entered my first novel, Soul Meaning, in IPPY, Kindle Book Review’s Book Awards, National Indie Excellence, Next Generation Indie, and Hollywood Book Festival in 2013. My book won one of the categories in National Indie Excellence, was a finalist in another category, was a finalist in its category in Next Gen Indie, and got honorable mention in its category in the Hollywood Book Festival.

    After reviewing once more which awards I felt had the best reputation of the ones I had entered in 2013, I put my second novel, King’s Crusade, forward for only two in 2014: Next Generation Indie and Kindle Book Review Book Awards. Next Gen Indie is non-profit making and gets you exposure at Book Expo America. Kindle Book Review Awards have always had a good reputation in my opinion. King’s Crusade won its category this year (co-winner) in Next Gen Indie and did not get through to the semi finals in Kindle Book Review.

    Like you rightly said, most of these awards, if not all, charge fees. Most will also charge you for any award certificate and stickers you may wish to order. Read the terms and conditions carefully as some awards may deem that you have granted them copyright to your work (mostly partial, some total) just by virtue of entering them. The latter is the primary reason I have not gone anywhere near the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. The award TOS looked too much like a generic rights grab to me.

    King’s Crusade winning its category in Next Gen Indie this year has resulted in interest from an audiobook company in NYC, who saw the book publicised by Next Gen Indie at Book Expo America. We are currently trying to raise the fund necessary to produce the audiobook through Pubslush.

    The win this year may also have caused a movie producer to get in touch with me about the film rights for my entire series and I am waiting to hear back from her.

    Both the audiobook venture and the film interest may go nowhere but I do believe being featured in the awards helped gain this very interest in the first place.

    I most definitely feel that being able to say that the series is award-winning or nominated, or that I am an award-winning author, has helped make the books more attractive to prospective readers.

    It has also helped my UK publicist in her ability to try and secure reviews and interviews for my third book’s launch this summer.

    Even though my previous KDP Select promos have landed me in the Kindle Free top 10-100 for my category/genres, I do not call myself a bestselling author as for me this statement equates being in the Kindle paid top10-100, or on a USA/NYT bestseller list (or UK equivalent). I don’t expect to hit the Kindle paid 10-100 for some time yet 😀

    So awards are definitely worth a look at!

    1. The National Indie Excellence Award is NOT something to brag about, LoL. It’ s a well-known scam targeting self-published writers, which is one of the reasons why they have so many categories–to make money. They make a MUCHO amount of money charging their “entry fees” but IT IS A SAM. Basically, saying you won the National Indie Excellence Award is saying you’re a self-published author who paid someone to give you some stickers that says you’re a good writer. Seriously, don’t brag about this because you literally got scammed. How did you NOT check Writer’s Beware before entering their paid “contest”??? LoL. Amazing what some people will do simply because their work can’t stand on its own. Sad, really.

  23. Thanks for this list, James – absolutely fantastic work, and I know it’s going to be essential reading for most ALLi members. Well done.

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