For the longest time, indie authors weren't able to enter awards like other authors. But more and more, book awards and prizes are opening up to us. Today, the Alliance of Independent Authors AskALLi highlights some of the best awards and prizes open to Indies. This is indie author friendly awards.
If you'd like more advice on what goes into creating an award winning book, or tips and tricks on entering, you can read our Ultimate Guide to Book Awards here.
Do you want your indie book to be in with a chance of winning an award, prize or contest? This book is for you. Packed full of tips and advice for preparation and submission, this is the Alliance of Independent Authors guide to Prizes for Indie Authors.
ALLi members can download a complimentary ebook copy of Prizes for Indie Authors in the Member Zone. Navigate to allianceindependentauthors.org and log in. Then navigate to the following menu: BOOKS > SHORTGUIDES. Other formats are available to members and non-members in ALLi’s Bookshop
Why You Need to Enter!
Melissa Addey, Campaigns Manager
One of the things that most surprised me, on joining ALLi, was being pretty sure (and being told with certainty by many indie authors) that most awards were not open to self-published authors, and then discovering that wasn't the whole picture. Yes, there are still awards who do not allow self-published authors (I'm looking at you, Booker), but they're looking more and more out of touch, in more ways than one (the Booker announcements included a viral clip of a presenter tittering at the very idea of a bookclub including a dinner lady and two steel workers…). I almost feel such awards are not even worth fretting over, that they will eventually get with the times… or die out and be replaced by something more up to date with how the world is right now.
Meanwhile, many very large and highly prestigious awards do actually permit self-published authors to enter… but we are not doing so.
Why is that?
Have we, as indies, swallowed the half-truth that we're ‘not allowed', ‘not welcomed' which was certainly true a decade ago, and not revised our knowledge? Then we are also out of date. Do we feel lesser in some way? Surely not. We have embraced new technology and new opportunities, we have carved out businesses that harness our creative and commercial abilities and we have done very, very well.
Readers rate us equally alongside traditionally published (K-Lytics 2022 showed this in no uncertain terms when they showed equal star ratings for trad and indie books). And yet recently an ALLi partner, keen to encourage authors of children's books to enter awards and prove their merit, generously offered to give $200 in entry fees for ALLi members wishing to enter for children's awards… and we got no applications. That offer still stands… see below and hurry! But I was surprised and a little disappointed that not one author had applied in the first round.
A (very incomplete) list of large and prestigious awards who accept self-published authors currently includes:
- The Arnold Bennett Prize
- The Arthur C Clarke Award
- The Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards
- The British Book Awards
- The Commonwealth Book Prize
- The Rathbones Folio Prize
- The Jhalak Prize
- The Kitschies
- The Lambda Literary Award
- The Lindisfarne Prize for Crime Fiction
- The Peters Fraser + Dunlop Young Writer of the Year
- The Premier’s Literary Awards
- The Pulitzer
- The Nebula Award
- The Romantic Novelists' Association Awards (the RoNAs).
I'd like to see far more indies entering such awards… more indies entering can and will lead to more indies winning. And a win for one indie is a win for us all, because it shows the dinosaurs they were wrong… the asteroid is coming, and it's travelling fast!
So to those still hovering: enter awards! Pick those most relevant to your work, follow submission instructions to the letter and enjoy the journey. And when you win, be sure and tell us at ALLi so we can celebrate your success!
Indie Author Friendly Book Awards
The Alliance of Independent Authors runs an independent watchdog that uses a ratings system to evaluate service providers, awards and industry bodies. The ratings system used to evaluate the awards, contests and prizes is as follows:
Author Awards and Contests Rated and Reviewed: 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.
- 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.
- The judging process is transparent and clear. Watch out for contests whose judging criteria and personnel are vague or undisclosed.
- 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.
- 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.
To view the full ratings listing for awards, contests and prizes, please see here.
Indie Author Friendly Book Awards: The Highlights
Children's Literature Award Fee Scholarships: Deadline 1st October
It's fabulous to report that Children's Literature have funded two scholarships for ALLi authors of books for readers up to 18. The scholarships will each cover $100 in award entry fees for children's and young adult authors. All eligible ALLi members can apply, by emailing this form with their entry to [email protected]. This is a fantastic opportunity to get your book into the hands of judges and through them to a wider audience. You can use the scholarships to cover fees for awards of your choice, depending on what suits your book best. In order to apply you need to make the case for your book, explain the awards you would like to enter, and tell Children's Lit what impact this will have on you as a writer. Entries are due by October 1 and winners will be announced at ALLi's Autumn/Fall conference.
AUS$345,000 NSW Premier's Prizes Now Open
It's always fantastic to update you with awards that are open to indies. And the 2023 NSW Premier's Prizes fit that bill. The 13 categories are each open to self-published works. Each comes with a prize fund of $5,000 to $40,000. NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said. “We’re thrilled to be increasing the prize money from $20,000 to $30,000 for the Multicultural NSW Award and making the Indigenous Prize a permanent fixture of our annual awards. This reinforces the Government’s commitment to supporting literature that reflects the stories and experiences of our diverse communities.” Entries are open to all Australian citizens or those who hold permanent residency.
Arnold Bennett Prize
The B.R.A.G Medallion
Open to self-published authors only. The cost of the B.R.A.G medallion entry is $100 for new authors and $75 for returning authors. Assessment takes approximately four to six months. indieBRAG exists to discover talented self-published authors and help them give their work the attention and recognition it deserves. To help indie writers do this, we offer a unique book evaluation and the B.R.A.G Medallion.
Kindle Storyteller Awards (Amazon KDP)
The Kindle Storyteller Award is a £20,000 literary prize recognising outstanding writing. It is open to writers publishing in English in any genre, who publish their work through Kindle Direct Publishing. Readers play a significant role in selecting the winner, helped by a panel of judges including various book industry experts. The 2022 Kindle Storyteller Award was open for entries between 1st May and 31st August 2022. It runs annually and has similar opening and closing dates each year. There are similar Storyteller awards run by amazon in: German, French, Italian, Hindi, Spanish, Portuguese. Find out more here.
North Street Book Prize (Winning Writers)
The North Street Book Prize is now in its 9th year. Your self-published or hybrid-published book can win up to $10,000 plus a large range of expert marketing services. Entry is $75 and there are a range of categories (focused mainly on genre fiction). Next round of entries opens February 15th 2023 and runs until June 30th 2023. Find out more here.
IBPA Ben Franklin Awards (IBPA)
Wishing Shelf Book Awards
If you're a children's book author, then the Wishing Shelf Book Award might be for you. The WSA offers independently published authors a different type of award. The aim of the award is to ensure authors who enter feel ‘involved' and the books are all judged thoroughly. Schools are also included and pupils part of the judging process. Find out more here.
IAN Book of the Year Awards (Independent Author Network)
The Independent Author Network presents the 2023 IAN Book of the Year Awards, an international contest open to all authors with 50 fiction and non-fiction categories. Winners are eligible to receive a share of cash prizes exceeding $6,000 USD. The 2023 Contest opens October 15, 2022 and Close August 15, 2023. The award is open to all English language print and eBooks available for sale, including small presses, mid-size independent publishers, university presses, and self-published authors. Entry fee starts at $39. Find out more here.
Since its creation in 1998, the Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards has served to showcase the talent of established university and independent press titles, as well as emerging authors who self-publish. Well aware of the challenges faced by small publishers, our goal is to highlight deserving books—those that not only meet our editorial standards, but also blow our minds—to our audience of librarians, booksellers, industry professionals, and other book lovers, domestically and internationally. Entry starts at $89. Find out more here.
The Rubery Prize is a prestigious international book award seeking the best books by indie writers, self published authors and books published by independent presses, judged by reputable judges. Creative writing is such a key part of life for those who enjoy writing yet it is increasingly difficult to become traditionally published. Through our reputation of finding quality and outstanding books we aim to bring recognition to the works that win and heighten an author's profile. Entry cost in the UK it is £44 or $70 USD. Find out more here.
For German-language books, Der Selfpublishing-Buchpreis is one to check out. Together with their partners and sponsors, they looking for the best independent published titles in the three categories of fiction, non-fiction/how-to books and children's/youth books. In addition, this year there is a special prize for the short prose category. The best works in each category will be awarded prize money and non-cash benefits totaling over 30,000 euros. Find out more here.
Judges will be looking for the full package: a fantastic story, well-produced book, enticing cover and an effective marketing strategy with potential for significant sales. For 2022 there are three categories open for entries: adult fiction, memoir/autobiography and children’s books. The prizes for the winning authors are $1000 cash plus a $5000 advertising package consisting of print and digital marketing in Publishers Weekly. The winning titles will also be featured at trade shows and promoted to 30,000 librarians. Find out more here.
Golden Crown Literary Society
The Golden Crown Literary Awards are presented annually during the Annual Conference and recognize excellence in women-loving-women and sapphic literature. The Goldies reward quality literature, cover design, and individuals in 19 categories, 2 popular choice categories, and 3 special categories. The Board of Directors constantly reviews proposals for new categories. The Goldies have been the annual event of the women-loving-women and sapphic literature calendar since 2005. Find out more here.
Indie Author Project
A joint venture of IngramSpark, Library Journal, and Biblioboard. Through these contests, libraries are helping local authors get the recognition they deserve for writing great books. For indie authors, these contests are a powerful way to elevate your careers and writing goals, all through the library community. Along with the accolade of the award and its perks, being recognized by librarians creates credibility and visibility for indie authors in a growing marketplace of digital content and indie-published books. Find out more here.
If you're a horror writer, then you might be interested in the Bram Stoker awards. Each year, the Horror Writer’s Association presents the Bram Stoker Awards for Superior Achievement, named in honor of Bram Stoker, author of the seminal horror work, Dracula. There are thirteen categories in which you can submit to. Find out more here.
There are a plethora of awards, contests and prizes open to indie authors. If you've ever dreamt of winning an award, now is the time to go for it. No more doubt, no more questions. If you don't apply, then you definitely can't win. The only way to win is to try. If you want to find more indie author friendly book awards, don't forget to check out our guide here. The AskALLi team wishes you all the best of luck in your entries for the rest of 2022 and the coming year.