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 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
2 Axiom Business Book Awards
3 Beverly Hills Book Awards
4 Book Designer – Monthly eBook Cover Design Award
5 Bookstore Without Borders’ LYRA Contest
6 Book Festivals is a way of entering several competitions at the same time
7 CIPA EVVY Awards
8 Digital Book Awards
9 eLit Book Awards
10 EPIC eBook Competition
11 Eric Hoffer Award
12 First Page Competition 2015
13 ForeWord Reviews – the Book of the Year Awards
14 Global eBook Awards
15 Green Book Festival
16 Guardian Legend Self-published book of the month
17 Historical Novel Society International Award
18 Hollywood Book Festival
19 Hugo Awards for Science Fiction
20 Historical Novel Society International Award
21 Hollywood Book Festival
22 IACP Cookbook Awards
23 Independent Book Publishers Association – Benjamin Franklin Awards
24 IndieReader Discovery Awards
25 International Book Awards
26 International Rubery Book Award
27 IPPY Awards
28 Kindle Book Review’s 2015 Kindle Book Awards
29 Living Now Book Awards
30 London Book Festival
31 Mom’s Choice Awards
32 Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards
33 National Indie Excellence Book Awards
34 National Literacy Trust Children’s Author Prize
35 Nautilus Book Awards
36 New Apple Book Awards for Excellence
37 New England Book Festival
38 New York Book Festival
39 Next Big Author Opening Chapter
40 Next Generation Indie Book Awards
41 Paris Book Festival
41 Reader Views Literary Awards (Multiple awards)
43 Readers Favourite Contest
44 San Francisco Book Festival
45 Shelf Unbound Writing Competition for Best Self-Published Book
46 Shirley You Jest Awards!
47 UK Arts Council Funded: YouWriteOn Book of the Year Awards
48 USA “Best Books” Awards
49 WISHING SHELF Independent Book Awards [UK]
50 Writer’s Digest 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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81 Responses to Writing: 50 Book Awards Open to Self-publishers

  1. Justin Young April 12, 2017 at 9:37 pm #

    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 –

    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

  2. Rishonda Anthony May 24, 2016 at 9:24 pm #

    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:

  3. Vickie Boswell April 11, 2016 at 5:14 am #

    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?

  4. Brian Robben April 11, 2016 at 12:12 am #

    This list is useful almost two years later in 2016. Appreciate the write up!

  5. Uzo Okoye February 3, 2016 at 9:44 pm #

    Mr Minter,

    Thanks for the list. A friend sent me this link with a list of competitions and fees to pay(or not to pay)


    Uzo Okoye
    Debut novel ‘Missing Piece’ Out June 2016

  6. Donald Swan December 11, 2015 at 2:29 pm #

    Great list! Here is another one:

  7. Ellen Feld November 2, 2015 at 8:41 pm #

    Please also consider the Feathered Quill Book Awards.

    We work hard to promote our winners and have special awards for self-published books.

  8. Kim Pawlak October 1, 2015 at 4:34 pm #

    Self-published textbook authors are welcome to submit entries for the Text and Academic Authors Association’s 2016 Textbook Awards. Visit for more information. Entry deadline is Dec. 1.

  9. Matthew August 30, 2015 at 12:04 am #

    I have written 20 Christian books ( 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

  10. Tracy July 14, 2015 at 2:34 am #

    Sorry, the website for the 2015 Readers Prefer Contest is


  11. Tracy July 14, 2015 at 2:19 am #

    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!

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  13. Kathleen DeBold June 8, 2015 at 1:40 pm #

    The Lambda Literary Awards also welcome self-published entries.

  14. Elizabeth June 2, 2015 at 10:10 am #

    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!

  15. Michele Lonoconus April 29, 2015 at 5:22 pm #

    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

    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!!

  16. Jordan April 26, 2015 at 5:14 am #

    You should add Literary Classics book awards and Top Honors awards to this list

    • Bob September 13, 2016 at 6:17 pm #

      Yes, Literary Classics should definitely be on this list.

  17. Jeff Bennington April 6, 2015 at 5:42 am #

    Thank you for adding “The Kindle Book Awards” to the list. Here’s the link to the official 2015 Kindle Book Awards.

  18. DeeDee March 31, 2015 at 8:53 pm #

    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.

  19. Tiffany March 20, 2015 at 6:27 pm #

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  20. Lloyd Lofthouse March 8, 2015 at 4:19 pm #

    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.

    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.

    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.

  21. janet March 4, 2015 at 11:26 pm #

    The utopYA Awards are open to indie-, self- and traditionally published authors.

  22. Theo Fenraven March 4, 2015 at 11:16 pm #

    Several of the links lead to “ERROR; PAGE NOT FOUND.

  23. Jim Johnson March 4, 2015 at 4:06 pm #

    Might also be worth mentioning that indie books are eligible for SFWA’s Nebula Awards.

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  25. Sophia Linberg January 10, 2015 at 5:43 am #

    Another really good book review contest for self published and independent authors is Pacific Book Awards Contest. Here is the link:

  26. Cate Baum December 14, 2014 at 9:13 am #

    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!

  27. Dennis Anthony December 11, 2014 at 5:20 pm #

    The Book Reader’s Appreciation Group bestows its medallion on worthy books:

  28. Sarah Bolme October 20, 2014 at 1:27 am #

    For Christian books, Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award should be added to the list.

  29. Jan Moran August 7, 2014 at 12:06 am #

    Good list, thanks for compiling and sharing, James. It would be interesting to see the entry fees beside each one of these.

  30. Dana Cassell August 6, 2014 at 9:10 pm #

    The Writers-Editors Network International Writing Competition (annual for 30+ years) allows self-published book chapters:

  31. Rachel Amphlett July 25, 2014 at 11:31 pm #

    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! 🙂

  32. Maria Constantine July 15, 2014 at 1:09 am #

    Thank you, James for the list and the advise given is extremely useful.

  33. Joanna Penn July 14, 2014 at 2:59 pm #

    International Thriller Writers is also open to indies who have passed the membership test, which is around professionalism and sales etc. I am a full Member. Last weekend, Rebecca Cantrell won the eBook original award for her indie book, The World Beneath – so it can be done 🙂

  34. Tim Gatewood July 14, 2014 at 1:32 pm #

    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.

  35. simon July 14, 2014 at 12:32 pm #

    Very useful! Many thanks.

  36. Will Gibson July 13, 2014 at 5:06 pm #

    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.

    • James Minter July 17, 2014 at 11:33 am #

      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 …

  37. Christine Nolfi July 13, 2014 at 12:26 pm #

    Wonderful list, James. Many thanks.

  38. clare weiner July 13, 2014 at 11:53 am #

    Many thanks to James, and also to ADS and Orna who’ve added some useful tips.

  39. Orna Ross July 13, 2014 at 10:55 am #

    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!

    • James Minter July 17, 2014 at 11:28 am #

      Absolutely put it as a resource for authors

  40. Jackie July 13, 2014 at 3:55 am #

    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.

    • Orna Ross July 13, 2014 at 11:04 am #

      Thanks Jackie, would love to hear more about your experience, it will of interest to other indies. Thanks for the tips!

      • Jackie July 13, 2014 at 1:21 pm #

        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.

  41. AD Starrling July 13, 2014 at 12:05 am #

    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!

    • James Minter July 13, 2014 at 10:26 am #

      Wow – so useful. – Copyright beware. But I’m glad your overall impression is that awards are worthwhile.

    • Orna Ross July 13, 2014 at 10:53 am #

      Thank you for sharing your experience, AD! Very interesting and valuable advice too.

    • David March 11, 2015 at 8:25 am #

      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.

  42. David James July 12, 2014 at 5:07 pm #

    The Second Quagga Prize for Literary Fiction (paper books only) for independent authors is seeking entrants from January 1, 2015. More info on the website

    • James Minter July 12, 2014 at 10:26 pm #

      I’ll collect up these additional awards and add them to my list … Thanks

  43. Theo Rogers July 12, 2014 at 3:16 pm #


    I only hope it won’t be too many years before they all are.

  44. David July 12, 2014 at 2:43 pm #

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

  45. Helen Hollick July 12, 2014 at 2:32 pm #

    There is also the Historical Novel Society Indie Award – newly started this year (2014)

    Helen Hollick Managing Editor HNS Indie Reviews

    • Debbie Young July 12, 2014 at 3:05 pm #

      Of course! I’m so sorry, Helen, I should have thought to add this one in myself to James’s list, as I knew about it – doh!

    • Christopher Holt July 26, 2015 at 8:07 am #

      The Book Readers’ Association Group Award (IndieB.R.A.G.) is worth trying for also.

    • Maxy Awards September 3, 2015 at 2:09 pm #

      Please also consider submitting a title to Maxy Awards. The entry fee is low and accepts digital submissions, and part of all proceeds goes directly to a great cause in Maxy’s House.


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