How Much Should You Be Spending on Book Awards?

Marylee MacDonald is the author of MONTPELIER TOMORROW, a novel about caregiving and ALS. Her short story collection, BONDS OF LOVE & BLOOD, was a finalist in the Foreword Reviews' INDIEFAB Awards. Her fiction has won Gold and Silver Medals from Readers' Favorites International Book Awards, the Barry Hannah Prize, the Ron Rash Award, and many others.

Book awards can help your book gain traction. When you’re attending a book fair, having a shiny sticker on the cover draws attention. And when you’re setting up your author’s pages, featuring the “bling” can’t hurt.

book awards can draw attention at a book festival

At a book festival a shiny, gold sticker on the cover of a book might be just the thing that makes a passerby pick it up. Image from Wikimedia Commons

Several of this blog’s subscribers stand on the brink of publishing first or second books. Every one of these folks is publishing with presses that use print-on-demand (POD) technology. That automatically excludes these authors from having their books considered for the Pulitzer Prize or National Book Award. So, how is an author supposed to collect some bling? Enter book awards for indie authors. If you win, place, or show, you may win a medallion, a cash prize, publicity, book reviews, or a 1-month residency at a university.

I’ve been pretty fortunate in winning awards for both my books. In this post I’m going to share my strategies for success. I’ve also created a spreadsheet that will make it easier for you to decide where and when to submit.

Timing Is Everything

Most book awards require you to submit your book in the calendar year of its copyright. I think it’s an advantage to have a book appear during the first quarter of the year. If a book is published in November or December, the author has a very narrow time frame. It’s no fun to spend your holiday season writing checks, filling out submission forms, and madly stuffing envelopes.

Even if you don’t need it immediately, download my Excel spreadsheet on AWARDS FOR PUBLISHED BOOKS.

Let’s say your book came out a year ago. All is not lost. Some awards allow you