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John Doppler, Services Watchdog

Literary awards and contests comprise a huge range of opportunities for authors. There are prestigious awards honoring literary talent. There are contests and events that entertain while spreading awareness of new titles. And there are profiteering schemes that seek to extract as much money as possible from authors.

It can be difficult to sort the good opportunities from the bad, but the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) is here to help.

ALLi monitors the self-publishing industry in two ways.

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

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

The ratings of book contests, awards, and prizes below are the opinion of the Watchdog Desk. They are based on thoughtful appraisals of multiple criteria, including transparency, entry fees, marketing practices, contract terms and rights, and value to the author.

For more information on book awards and other author services, please see Book Prizes & Awards for Indie Authors, and to learn how to appraise any service yourself, please see Choose The Best  Self-Publishing Services: ALLi's guide to Assembling your Tools and your Team by the head of the ALLi Watchdog Desk, John Doppler. Contact John at any time if you would like to inform us about a contest or award, or discuss a rating.

For information on other self-publishing service providers, visit our general ratings page.

Author Awards and Contests Rated and Reviewed: Guiding Principles

1. The event exists to recognize talent, not to enrich the organizers.
Avoid events driven by excessive entry fees, marketing services to entrants, or sales of 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. While it's common for judges to remain anonymous, the criteria by which books are judged should always be disclosed.

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 or upselling.

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.

Author Awards and Contests Rated and Reviewed: Disclaimer

The assessments listed on this page are the opinion of the ALLi Watchdog Desk. Authorized representatives of the organizations 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.


Contests 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.


Contests that could not be rated, e.g., unusual formats that our rating methodology cannot fairly accommodate.

Event details are subject to change; consult the event's website for confirmation.

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