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Book Marketing: Why Self-Published Authors Should Enter Competitions

Book Marketing: Why Self-Published Authors Should Enter Competitions

Heather Painter, author of literary short stories and poems, considers writing competition options for indie authors, and draws attention to one with an imminent deadline that she set up specifically to recognise self-published books – the International Rubery Book Award.

Photo at the Booker Prize dinner

At the Booker Prize dinner

Some years ago I was lucky enough to be invited to the Booker Prize dinner. It was full of excitement and anticipation. Even those who didn’t win the big prize were treated with respect by the publishing world. It made me realise how important prizes were.

A lot of these big traditional awards are not open to indie writers. In fact, even if they were, the cost they require from a publisher if a book is shortlisted is prohibitively expensive to a sole author or small press. Costs often run into the thousands.

Cover of Opening Up

ALLi’s guidebook includes advice on writing enter competitions for indie authors

Competitions Open to Self-Published Authors

However, there are awards out there specifically aimed at independent publishers or self publishers. Of course one must always research a competition first to check its credibility. ALLi believe that competitions have an important place, but in Opening up to Indie Authors they recommend a certain amount of caution:

  • Check their website – does it look professional?
  • Check the winning books too.
  • What do the winners actually win?
  • Do all books entered receive an endorsement regardless of quality?

Some other important things to check whether a competition is worthwhile are finding out whether the winners received their prize, and whether the organisation actually awards quality books. The books may not be to your liking, but that doesn’t mean they are not good books.

  • Who reads the books and are they qualified to do so?
  • What are their credentials?

After all, the judges’ reputation will be at stake if they randomly choose a book. But if the winners are carefully chosen, the judges will proudly stand by their decision.

Why Enter For a Book Award?

So why enter a book award at all? The answer is really quite simple:

  • Obviously, there is the chance to win some money if you actually win
  • Does it increase your sales? I think it’s important to be realistic here – they may not increase substantially. However, you get respectability and the possibility of doors opening to you if you win a well-respected award
  • In some awards, you get the chance of contact with a top agent
  • You can advertise yourself as an award-winning author, which gives you a new marketing angle
  • Winning an award will get people to sit up and listen when an author contacts them regarding their book

Entering Awards Shows Self-Belief

Photo of a past winner with trophy

ALLi author member Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn, receiving her International Rubery Book Award

An author who is planning on entering or has entered, even if they don’t win, is someone who believes in his or her work.  It gives them hope, the chance of recognition, and the excitement and anticipation of a challenge.

All those emotions remind me of when I attended the Booker Prize Dinner. The people who did not win may have experienced some disappointment, but at the same time, it would have inspired them to write an even better book next time. And the shortlisted authors won in many other ways, giving them much needed exposure and future recognition.

Writers need possibilities and awards offer them possibilities.

Rubery Book Award logoThis is why I set up the International Rubery Book Award: to fill that gap for indie publishers and authors. We have prestigious, named judges who take pride in making their decisions. The winning book is also read by a top London literary agent who could offer representation on any remaining rights for that book or be an invaluable contact for your future works. And of course there is the prize money and plaque. We want our winners to be proud!

Our ethos is to find and award quality books, so that if you see a book has won the Rubery Book Award, you can be assured that it is of a very high standard.

IndieReCon logo

To enter the International Rubery Book Award, visit www.ruberybookaward.com for details. Closing date 30th April 2015.

Three other competitions with imminent deadlines are the IndieReCon awards, which we blogged about on Friday – click here for details of how to enter.

OVER TO YOU

Competitions – do you love them or hate them? Do you enter or avoid them? If you’ve won any, how has that helped your career? Do join the conversation via the comments box!

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This Post Has 4 Comments
  1. If you plant to enter a contest / competition, it’s also important to check that the competition in question is right for your genre. Somebody who only reads literary fiction won’t be able to adequately judge a romance novel, and somebody who predominantly reads mysteries most likely won’t be familiar with genre conventions in fantasy fiction.

    So if you are a writer of genre fiction, I’d steer clear of the more general awards.

  2. I have entered competitions. I’ve even won a couple. I now have “award-winning writer” attached to my name, so THAT particular box is checked. Does being able to say you are “award winning” sway some readers? Probably. So it might be worth getting one win in somewhere so you can say the same.

    After that? Frankly, one award that nobody has ever heard of is about as irrelevant as another award nobody has ever heard of. Unless it’s s Hugo or a Nebula (for science fiction and fantasy), or a similar award for whatever your genre is, then it’s not doing you any good to name it by name, and it’s not doing you any good to go hunting for awards, either.

    The big awards can open doors. Nobody in publishing cares about the smaller awards, because they’re easy to obtain and everyone can get one.

    So I don’t waste time on contest entries. That time is better spent writing and publishing new books.

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