Pages

Award and Contest Ratings


Award and Contest Ratings

Introduction

Orna Ross Bio Headshot

Orna Ross, ALLi Director

The Watchdog Desk of The Alliance of Independent Authors monitors the self-publishing industry in two ways.

1. We have a Partner Membership for services which align with our Code of Standards and go through a vetting process.

2. We identify rogue services which overcharge, over-promise, under-deliver, or in any way exploit authors.

The ratings below are the opinion of the Watchdog Desk. Ratings are based on careful appraisals of multiple criteria, including pricing and value, quality of service, contract terms and rights, transparency, accountability, and customer satisfaction.

For more information on author services, and to learn how to appraise any service yourself, please see our book, How to Choose A Self-Publishing Service.

Contests and Awards

Headshot of John Doppler

John Doppler

ALLi is willing to work with any service that wants to improve its offerings and bring them in line with current best practice for authors services.

Contact the Watchdog Desk at any time if you would like to inform us about a contest or award, or discuss a rating. Please use the form on this page.

For information on self-publishing service providers, please see our Service Ratings page.


Guiding Principles

1. The event exists to recognize talent, not to enrich the organizers.

Avoid events which are driven by excessive entry fees, marketing services to entrants, or selling merchandise like stickers and certificates.

2. Receiving an award is a significant achievement.

An event that hands out awards like Halloween candy dilutes the value of those awards, rendering them meaningless. Beware events that offer awards in dozens of categories. These are often schemes to maximize the number of winners in order to sell them stickers and other merchandise.

3. The judging process is transparent and clear.

Watch out for contests whose judging criteria and personnel are vague or undisclosed.

4. Prizes are appropriate and commensurate with the entry fees collected.

If a cash prize is offered, it should align with the size of the entry fee. “Exposure” is not an appropriate prize. Representation or publication are acceptable prizes, but only if offered by a reputable company without hidden fees.

5. Entrants are not required to forfeit key rights to their work.

Avoid contests with onerous terms, especially those which require the forfeiture of publishing rights without a termination clause. When in doubt, have an independent professional review the terms.


Contests which are organized for the benefit of the author rather than the profit of the organizer.
Contests which are mostly positive, but present some issues of minor concern.
Contests with more serious concerns. For example, these contests may involve excessive entry fees, exploitative contracts, conflicts of interest, or high-pressure sales.

Listings updated June 1st, 2017. Event details are subject to change; consult the event’s website for confirmation.


A
Award ALLi Watchdog Rating Details
Amour Romance Novel Contest (Inkitt)
Fee: Free
Categories: Romance only
Judging: Popular vote plus undisclosed criteria.
Contract: All Inkitt participants must surrender first publication rights.
Notes: Winner is published by Inkitt, which pays 25% royalties.
Operator: Inkitt
Amsterdam Book Festival
Fee: $50
Categories: 15 – 20
Judging: Anon
Operator: JM Northern Media LLC
Axiom Awards
Fee: $75 – $95
Categories: 22
Judging: Anon
Operator: The Jenkins Group

B
Award ALLi Watchdog Rating Details
B.R.A.G. Medallion
Fee: $50
Categories: 13
Judging: Anon
Notes: Open to self-published authors only.
Operator: indieBRAG, LLC
Beach Book Festival
Fee: $50
Categories: 15 – 20
Judging: Anon
Operator: JM Northern Media LLC
Best Book Awards
Fee: $79/category, $59 if you send a money order
Categories: 95
Judging: Anon
Operator: i310 Media Group
Beverly Hills Book Awards
Fee: $75
Categories: 157
Judging: Anon
Operator: Ellen Reid / Smarketing LLC
Big Five Competition
Fee: £10
Categories: N/A
Judging: Disclosed
Contract: Copyright remains with the author; entrants grant permission to print on contest host’s website
Notes: Prize is £100 plus one year of mentoring
Operator: Words With Jam
BookFestivals.com
Notes: This site serves as a lead generator for JM Northern Media’s assortment of “book festivals”, all of which have received negative ratings from ALLi.
Operator: JM Northern Media LLC
BookLife
Fee: $99
Categories: 7
Judging: Mostly transparent
Contract: No key rights required
Selling: none
Notes: Although BookLife’s $99 is above our recommended threshold, the prizes are commensurate with the fee, and there are no indications of profiteering.
Operator: Publishers Weekly
Bookvana
Fee: $79/category, $59 if you send a money order
Categories: 73
Judging: Anon
Operator: i310 Media Group

C
Award ALLi Watchdog Rating Details
Carousel Aware Prize (CAP)
Fee: €50
Categories: 7
Judging: Disclosed
CIPA EVVY Awards
Fee: $75 for members, $95 for non-members
Categories: 51
Judging: Anon
Operator: Colorado Independent Publisher’s Association
Con Man (Inkitt)
Fee: Free
Categories: Fan fiction (Serenity, Firefly, or Con Man)
Judging: Winner chosen by Alan Tudyk.
Contract: All Inkitt participants must surrender first publication rights.
Notes: Winner receives one chapter narrated by Alan Tudyk.
Operator: Inkitt
Crime Novelist (Inkitt)
Fee: Free
Categories: Crime novels only
Judging: Popular vote plus undisclosed criteria.
Contract: All Inkitt participants must surrender first publication rights.
Notes: Winners move on to a final round to compete for a $1000 prize.
Operator: Inkitt

D
Award ALLi Watchdog Rating Details
Deutscher Selfpublishing Preis
Judging: Fully disclosed
Notes: Grand prize: 10,000 euros plus 80,000 euros worth of marketing services.
Operator: Marketing- und Verlagsservice des Buchhandels
Dreamlands (Inkitt)
Fee: Free
Categories: Fantasy novels
Judging: Popular vote plus undisclosed criteria.
Contract: All Inkitt participants must surrender first publication rights.
Notes: First prize winner receives a publishing offer from Inkitt (terms not disclosed). 2nd and 3rd place winners receive an Amazon gift card ($40 or $30, respectively).
Operator: Inkitt

E
Award ALLi Watchdog Rating Details
eBook Cover Design Awards
Fee: Free
Categories: 2
Judging: Disclosed
Operator: Joel Friedlander / The Book Designer
eLit Book Awards
Fee: $70 – $90
Categories: 65
Judging: Anon
Operator: The Jenkins Group
EPIC’s eBook Awards
Fee: $25 for members, $35 for non-members
Categories: 20
Judging: Anon
Operator: Electronic Publishing Industry Coalition
Eric Hoffer Award
Fee: $45
Categories: 19
Judging: Nomination, anon
Erotic Novelist (Inkitt)
Fee: Free
Categories: Erotica only
Judging: Popular vote plus undisclosed criteria.
Contract: All Inkitt participants must surrender first publication rights.
Notes: Winners move on to a final round to compete for a $1000 prize.
Operator: Inkitt

F
Award ALLi Watchdog Rating Details
Fandom2 (Inkitt)
Fee: Free
Categories: Fan fiction novels, any genre
Judging: Popular vote plus undisclosed criteria.
Contract: All Inkitt participants must surrender first publication rights.
Notes: Winners receive an Amazon gift card ($30, $20, or $10).
Operator: Inkitt
Fandom3 (Inkitt)
Fee: Free
Categories: Fan fiction short stories and novels, any genre
Judging: Popular vote plus undisclosed criteria.
Contract: All Inkitt participants must surrender first publication rights.
Notes: Winners receive an Amazon gift card ($30, $20, or $10).
Operator: Inkitt
Fantasy Novelist (Inkitt)
Fee: Free
Categories: Fantasy only
Judging: Popular vote plus undisclosed criteria.
Contract: All Inkitt participants must surrender first publication rights.
Notes: Winners move on to a final round for $1000 prize.
Operator: Inkitt
Florida Book Festival
Fee: $50
Categories: 15 – 20
Judging: Anon
Operator: JM Northern Media LLC
Folio Prize (Rathbones Folio Prize)
Fee: N/A
Categories: N/A
Judging: Disclosed
Notes:
Operator: The Folio Prize Academy

G
Award ALLi Watchdog Rating Details
GCLS Literary Awards (The Goldies)
Fee: $15 – $35
Categories: 19
Judging: Open process, anon judges
Notes: Recognizes excellence in lesbian literature.
Operator: Golden Crown Literary Society
Global Ebook Awards
Fee: $79
Categories: 106
Judging: Numerous judges, disclosure voluntary by judges
Selling: Sells winners certificates at $25 each
Operator: Indigo Enterprises, LLC / Dan Poynter
Goodreads Choice Awards
Fee: Free
Categories: 20
Judging: Initial entrants selected by anonymous judges, then voted on in three rounds of open voting by members
Operator: Goodreads
Grand Novel Contest (Inkitt)
Fee: Free
Categories: N/A
Judging: Popular vote plus undisclosed criteria.
Contract: All Inkitt participants must surrender first publication rights.
Notes: Winner receives a publishing offer from Inkitt (author receives 50% of Inkitt’s net), plus a notepad and coffee mug.
Operator: Inkitt
Great Northwest Book Festival
Fee: $50
Categories: 15 – 20
Judging: Anon
Operator: JM Northern Media LLC
Great Southeast Book Festival
Fee: $50
Categories: 15 – 20
Judging: Anon
Operator: JM Northern Media LLC
Great Southwest Book Festival
Fee: $50
Categories: 15 – 20
Judging: Anon
Operator: JM Northern Media LLC
Green Book Festival
Fee: $50
Categories: 18
Judging: Anon
Operator: JM Northern Media LLC

H
Award ALLi Watchdog Rating Details
Halloween Book Festival
Fee: $50
Categories: 17
Judging: Anon
Operator: JM Northern Media LLC
Harrowing (Inkitt)
Fee: Free
Categories: Horror stories
Judging: Popular vote plus undisclosed criteria.
Contract: All Inkitt participants must surrender first publication rights.
Notes: Three winners receive listings on the Inkitt “Best Horror Stories” feature.
Operator: Inkitt
Historical Novel Society Indie Award
Fee: No entry fee
Categories: Historical fiction only
Judging: Disclosed
Notes: Limited to indie authors. £100 prize for winners, £50 prize for runners-up.
Operator: Historical Novel Society
Historical Novel Society International Award
Fee: $20 for members, $35 for non-members
Categories: Historical fiction only
Judging: Disclosed
Notes: Limited to unpublished works. £2000 or $3000 prize.
Operator: Historical Novel Society
Hollywood Book Festival
Fee: $50
Categories: 15 – 20
Judging: Anon
Operator: JM Northern Media LLC
Horror Novelist (Inkitt)
Fee: Free
Categories: Horror novels only
Judging: Popular vote plus undisclosed criteria.
Contract: All Inkitt participants must surrender first publication rights.
Notes: Winners move on to a final round to compete for a $1000 prize.
Operator: Inkitt
Hugo Awards
Fee: Free
Categories: 16
Judging: Members nominate and vote on winners
Notes: The Hugo Awards have been presented annually since 1955. Nomination and voting are restricted to dues-paying Worldcon members.
Operator: World Science Fiction Society

I
Award ALLi Watchdog Rating Details
IACP Cookbook Awards
Fee: $175 – $200
Categories: 16
Judging: Anon
Selling: Winners must pay a licensing fee to display an IACP Award seal on their products, ranging from $500 for a digital version to $1,000 for 10,000 stickers.
Notes: No tangible prizes are noted on the event’s website. In addition to the category judging, the contest features special awards and a People’s Choice award determined by popular vote.
Operator: International Assoc. of Culinary Professionals
IBPA Ben Franklin Awards
Fee: $225 for non-members (includes membership), $95 for members
Categories: 54
Judging: Anon
Selling: stickers, trophies, and certificates are available for purchase
Operator: Independent Book Publishers Association
Independent Press Award
Fee: $75
Categories: 162
Judging: Anon
Selling: Sells stickers and promotional services.
Operator: Independent Press Award (Gabrielle Olczak / Diane Carey-Pape)
Independent Publisher Book Awards
Fee: $85
Categories: 105
Judging: Anon
Selling: Relentless marketing and upselling.
Notes: The site’s FAQ notes that judges may not even read the books.
Operator: The Jenkins Group
Indie Reader Discovery Awards
Fee: $150 plus $50/additional category plus $25 for books over 100k words
Categories: fiction/nonfiction
Judging: Disclosed
Notes: Although Indie Reader is doing many things right, their high entry fee and low payouts make this a poor investment overall.
Operator: Indie Reader Author Services
INDIEFAB Awards (Foreword Reviews)
Fee: $99
Categories: 66
Judging: Anon
Selling: Foil seals marketed to winners, along with ads for review services, advertising, mail services, etc.
Operator: Foreword Reviews
International Book Awards
Fee: $79/category, $59 if you send a money order
Categories: 87
Judging: Anon
Operator: i310 Media Group
International Excellence Body, Mind, Spirit Book Awards
Fee: $75
Categories: 40
Judging: Anon
Operator: Ellen Reid / Smarketing LLC
International Rubery Book Award
Fee: £36 or $60 or ‎€50
Categories: Vary depending on entries
Judging: Disclosed
Notes: Cash prize of $£1500 for Book of the Year, £150 for each category winner.
Operator: Rubery Book Award
IPPY Awards
Fee: $85
Categories: 105
Judging: Anon
Selling: reports of aggressive marketing directed at entrants
Notes: The site’s FAQ notes that judges may not even read the books.
Operator: The Jenkins Group

J
Award ALLi Watchdog Rating Details
James River Writers
Fee: $25 for members, $65 for non-members (including membership)
Judging: Disclosed
Notes: Open to Virginia residents and members of James River Writers only.
Operator: James River Writers

K
Award ALLi Watchdog Rating Details
Kindle Book Awards
Fee: $29
Categories: 7
Judging: Anon
Notes: Books must have a presence on Amazon. Prizes are $300 in cash, plus various promotional packages from the host and sponsors.
Operator: Kindle Book Review

L
Award ALLi Watchdog Rating Details
Lamba Literary Awards (The Lammys)
Fee: $45
Categories: 25
Judging: Disclosed
Notes: Several prizes awarded to authors in the LGBTQ field.
Operator: Lambda Literary
Living Now Book Awards
Fee: $75 – $95
Categories: 34
Judging: Anon
Selling: Relentless marketing and upselling.
Operator: The Jenkins Group
Los Angeles Book Festival
Fee: $50
Categories: 19
Judging: Anon
Operator: JM Northern Media LLC
Lyra Contest
Fee: $40
Categories: 10
Judging: Anon
Operator: Bookstore Without Borders

M
Award ALLi Watchdog Rating Details
Mom’s Choice Awards
Fee: $500 – $1500, with some discounts available
Categories: N/A
Judging: Anon
Notes: Less of an award and more of a product seal of approval, MCA evaluates products and services for children, families, and educators. The steep price tag is a significant barrier to entry in this progra
Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards
Categories: 47, 3 to 5 winners per category
Judging: Anon
Selling: Relentless marketing and upselling.
Operator: The Jenkins Group

N
Award ALLi Watchdog Rating Details
National Indie Excellence Book Awards
Fee: $75
Categories: 162
Judging: Anon
Operator: Ellen Reid / Smarketing LLC
Nautilus Book Awards
Fee: $175 – $195
Categories: 38 categories with three tiers per category
Judging: Anon
Notes: Urges authors to “Invest in your Message”. Grand Prize winners receive a “cash prize” (amount not disclosed), “exhibit opportunities” at book fairs, and a “List of Marketing Opportunities”.
Operator: Mary Belknap
New Apple Book Awards for Excellence in Publishing
Fee: $70
Categories: 65
Judging: Anon
Selling: Sells stickers
Notes: Winners receive “commemorative awards and special distinction”, plus a press release.
New England Book Festival
Fee: $50
Categories: 15 – 20
Judging: Anon
Operator: JM Northern Media LLC
New York Book Festival
Fee: $50
Categories: 15 – 20
Judging: Anon
Operator: JM Northern Media LLC
Next Generation Indie Book Awards
Fee: $75 plus $50/additional category
Categories: 68
Judging: Mostly disclosed
Operator: Independent Book Publishing Professionals Group
Novelist, The (Inkitt)
Fee: Free
Categories: Any genre other than fan fiction.
Judging: Popular vote plus undisclosed criteria.
Contract: All Inkitt participants must surrender first publication rights.
Notes: Three winners receive publishing offers from Inkitt. Royalties are 50% (unclear if this is Inkitt’s net after retailer fees).
Operator: Inkitt

P
Award ALLi Watchdog Rating Details
Pacific Rim Book Festival
Fee: $50
Categories: 15 – 20
Judging: Anon
Operator: JM Northern Media LLC
Paris Book Festival
Fee: $50
Categories: 15 – 20
Judging: Anon
Operator: JM Northern Media LLC
Pinnacle Book Achievement Awards
Fee: $90
Categories: 57
Judging: Anon
Operator: bookmarketingprofits.com
Pinnacle E-Book Achievement Awards
Fee: $50
Categories: 57
Judging: Anon
Operator: bookmarketingprofits.com

R
Award ALLi Watchdog Rating Details
Reader Views Literary Awards
Fee: $85 – $105
Categories: 52 categories with first and second place winners, 16 other awards
Judging: Anon
Selling: Sells publicity packages to entrants
Notes: Prizes are various marketing services
Operator: Book by Book Publicity
Readers’ Favorite
Fee: $89 – $109
Categories: 132
Judging: Anon
Operator: Readers’ Favorite LLC
Romance Novelist (Inkitt)
Fee: Free
Categories: Erotica only
Judging: Popular vote plus undisclosed criteria.
Contract: All Inkitt participants must surrender first publication rights.
Notes: Winners move on to a final round to compete for a $1000 prize.
Operator: Inkitt

S
Award ALLi Watchdog Rating Details
San Francisco Book Festival
Fee: $50
Categories: 15 – 20
Judging: Anon
Operator: JM Northern Media LLC
Sci-FI Novelist (Inkitt)
Fee: Free
Categories: Science Fiction only
Judging: Popular vote plus undisclosed criteria.
Contract: All Inkitt participants must surrender first publication rights.
Notes: Winners move on to a final round to compete for $1000 prize.
Operator: Inkitt
Shelf Unbound Best Indie/Self-Published Book Competition
Fee: $50
Judging: Anon
Operator: Shelf Media Group
Sky Bound (Inkitt)
Fee: Free
Categories: Science Fiction novels
Judging: Popular vote plus undisclosed criteria.
Contract: All Inkitt participants must surrender first publication rights.
Notes: First prize winner receives a publishing offer from Inkitt (terms not disclosed). 2nd and 3rd place winners receive an Amazon gift card ($40 or $30, respectively).
Operator: Inkitt
Southern California Book Festival
Fee: $50
Categories: 16
Judging: Anon
Operator: JM Northern Media LLC
SPR Awards
Fee: $25
Judging: Anon
Notes: Prizes include promotion packages by the host company
Operator: Self Publishing Review
Star Wars (Inkitt)
Fee: Free
Categories: Star Wars-inspired Science Fiction novels
Judging: Popular vote plus undisclosed criteria.
Contract: All Inkitt participants must surrender first publication rights.
Notes: Winners receive a badge for their website.
Operator: Inkitt
StoryPeak Novel Contest (Inkitt)
Fee: Free
Categories: Any genre except fan fiction
Judging: Popular vote plus undisclosed criteria.
Contract: All Inkitt participants must surrender first publication rights.
Notes: Three winners receive a publishing offer from Inkitt, which pays royalties of 50% of Inkitt’s net.
Operator: Inkitt
StoryPeak2 Novel Contest
Fee: Free
Categories: Any genre except fan fiction
Judging: Popular vote plus undisclosed criteria.
Contract: All Inkitt participants must surrender first publication rights.
Notes: Three winners receive a publishing offer from Inkitt, which pays royalties of 50% of Inkitt’s net.
Operator: Inkitt
Swoon (Inkitt)
Fee: Free
Categories: Romance
Judging: Popular vote plus undisclosed criteria.
Contract: All Inkitt participants must surrender first publication rights.
Notes: One winner receives a publishing offer from Inkitt, which pays royalties of 50% of Inkitt’s net earnings.
Operator: Inkitt

T
Award ALLi Watchdog Rating Details
The Wishing Shelf Awards
Fee: £19 / $29 for basic entry, £39 / $59 for feedback and reviews
Categories: 6
Judging: Anon
Operator: Wishing Shelf Press

V
Award ALLi Watchdog Rating Details
Vendetta (Inkitt)
Fee: Free
Categories: Thriller stories
Judging: Popular vote plus undisclosed criteria.
Contract: All Inkitt participants must surrender first publication rights.
Notes: Winner receives a listing on the Inkitt “Best thriller” section.
Operator: Inkitt

W
Award ALLi Watchdog Rating Details
Words With Jam First Page Competition
Fee: £6
Categories: N/A
Judging: Disclosed
Contract: Copyright remains with the author; entrants grant permission to print on contest host’s website
Notes: Prizes are £500/£100/£50
Operator: Words With Jam
Words With Jam Short Story Competition
Fee: £6
Categories: N/A
Judging: Disclosed
Contract: Copyright remains with the author; entrants grant permission to print on contest host’s website
Notes: Prizes are £500/£100/£50
Operator: Words With Jam
Writer Advice Scintillating Starts Contest
Fee: $15
Categories: 3 (fiction, memoir, nonfiction)
Judging: Disclosed
Notes: $210 prize split among winners
Operator: Writer Advice
Writer’s Digest Self-Published e-Book Awards
Fee: $99 – $110
Categories: 7
Judging: Anon
Operator: Writer’s Digest

Disclaimer

The assessments listed on this page are the opinion of the ALLi Watchdog Desk. Authorized representatives of the organiztions listed above are welcome to contact us to request information on ALLi’s assessment process, or to present additional information for our consideration.

Is there an award or contest you’re wondering about that’s not on our list? Let us know so we can evaluate it.


Is that #writing award legit? Find out in ALLi's Award and Contest Ratings for #IndieAuthors -… Click To Tweet

Updated annually and drawing on recommendations from ALLi members, warnings from our Watchdog Services, community word-of-mouth and in-depth research, How To Choose A Self-Publishing Service compares the most significant self-publishing services, from single service suppliers to package providers; from large big brand names to smaller sole traders; from off-the shelf providers to bespoke services.


Comments are closed.