In this month's Indie Author Book Award Update, we'll be looking at how literary organizations are increasingly finding ways to ensure their programs recognize and celebrate a diverse range of voices and perspectives in literature. Not only does this benefit the entire book-loving community, but also authors including ALLi members, and the people who are using their voices to share diverse stories.
Welcome to our monthly awards update from Hannah Jacobson, ALLi's Awards Advisor. Hannah is the founder of Book Award Pro, the company that makes it easy for authors to find and submit to book awards.
Inclusivity in the literary world
Inclusivity is aimed at breaking down barriers that have historically limited recognition and opportunities for writers from underrepresented background. This includes those from often marginalized groups, based on characteristics such as ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or socio-economic background.
As the book publishing world explores more ways to expand inclusivity, book award programs are following suit… or have been paving their own path for many years.
Inclusivity in literary awards
As indie authors make the literary landscape a rich tapestry of character, independent literary awards also make a notable difference and highlight fresh voices. Long before famous awards make strides in their own program revisions, independently run award organizations have often been the first to adopt a new perspective.
For example, the Lambda Literary Awards have been recognizing LGBTQ+ stories since 1989. By honoring LGBTQ+ authors and their stories, this award program elevates its organizational mission to champion queer literary excellence on a national scale.
Another inspiring example of advocacy and inclusivity is the In the Margins Book Awards, which has operated independently since 2017. This program serves to highlight titles that appeal to young readers who identify as BIPOC, identify with street culture, live in restrictive custody, or who are reluctant readers. By awarding books that discuss topics of race, class, incarceration, and other realities of marginalized groups, this unique program highlights diverse books and voices often living in the margins.
Pulitzer Prize expands eligibility to include permanent residents
It's always exciting to see when a major literary award updates its rules and restrictions to embrace inclusion.
For example, the Pulitzer Prize board recently announced its milestone decision to expand eligibility. Previously, only United States citizens were eligible to submit their work for consideration. Beginning with the 2025 award program, the Pulitzer Prize will begin accepting submissions from US permanent residents: authors for whom “the United States has been their longtime primary home.”
In years to come, it will be fascinating to see how other famous literary awards update their guidelines to recognize marginalized authors.
Other areas of indie author book award expansion
Inclusivity in literary awards ensures that the nominees and winners of awards represent a broad spectrum of authors. As a result, the rich diversity of human experiences and cultures is represented in literature around the world.
Many literary awards will continue to expand their eligibility criteria to be more inclusive. For example, awards will increasingly consider books written in languages other than English, works of translated fiction, and self-published books, among others.
To draw varied perspectives into the evaluation process, diverse judging panels will also continue to be a defining characteristic of a more inclusive industry.
How to make an impact as an indie author
Share your story and leverage accolades…
Does your work include meaningful themes that address important societal issues? As an indie author, you can use story marketing to leverage your platform and do good things.
Bring awareness to causes that are important to you. Not only can you provide unique and valuable insights to your readers and the literary world, but you can also contribute to a more inclusive literary landscape. Use your accolades to bring awareness to your cause.
Search awards, including ratings, reviews and details of fees, on the ALLi Book Award and Contest Rating page on our website.
Interested in entering a writing competition? Take a look at this ALLi blog post Writing Competitions: Why Enter and How to Win.
For more information on applying for book awards that are open to indie authors, you can purchase our short guide in multiple formats on our bookstore: Book Prizes & Awards for Indie Authors in our bookstore. Members enjoy free access to the ebook.