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Awards Ratings

The Alliance of Independent Authors monitors the literary awards industry in several ways:

  • We have a Partner Membership for awards which align with our Code of Standards and are willing to go through a vetting process.
  • Our Open Up to Indie Authors campaign urges prestigious prizes and awards that are not yet open to self-publishing to include indie authors in their programs.
  • We identify rogue awards which overcharge, over-promise, under-deliver, or exploit authors in our ratings below.

The award and contest ratings are the opinion of the ALLi watchdog, based on pricing, reputation of the award, contract terms and conditions, transparency, judging process, and value to the author.

Contact our watchdog desk if you would like to inform us about a contest or award, or discuss a rating.

For more information on applying for book awards that are open to indie authors, please see our short guide Book Prizes & Awards for Indie Authors.

Melissa
Campaigns Manager
John Doppler
Services Watchdog

Guiding principles

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.

The judging process is transparent and clear.

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

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.

Receiving an award is an 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 upsell to them.

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.

There is no profiteering upsell

e.g. manuscript critiques, marketability analyses, tickets for prizegiving, trophies.

Ratings & Reviews

Key/Legend

Excellent (Partner Member)

Contests that have been vetted and align with ALLi's Code of Standards.

Mixed

Contests which are mostly positive, but present some issues of minor concern.

Watchdog Advisory

Contests that fail to align with ALLi's Code of Standards, are the subject of consistent complaints and, in some cases, have been subject to legal action.

Recommended

Contests that clearly benefit the author rather than profit the organizer.

Caution

Contests with more serious concerns e.g excessive entry fees, exploitative contracts, conflicts of interest, or high-pressure sales.

Disclaimer

The assessments listed on this page are the opinion of the ALLi Watchdog. 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.

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The Alliance of Independent Authors is a professional business membership organisation that advises, campaigns for, and empowers self-publishing authors. A non-profit, our mission is ethics and excellence in self-publishing and we provide authors with trusted advice, supportive guidance, and a range of resources, within a welcoming community.

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