Top 20 Award Contests for Self-Published Authors
Awards and competitions can be a lot of fun and a quick way to boost popularity and prestige, both for self-published writers and those with a traditional lean. Here are some of the best available for self-published authors.
A Few Tips
First, you’re more likely to win if you have fewer and high-quality books than many binge-reading sellers; so if you’re publishing that one, perfect novel, this might be a great way to get some new eyes on it.
You might also notice that many of these contests cost money to enter. This is to ensure that low-effort books don’t waste time in the judging process, and to encourage discretion as to whether your book is a suitable nomination. If you think you’re a good fit, consider it an investment in your success.
Lastly, not all books were meant to be contest winners. Many (if not most) of the greatest and most popular books never won a single award, so don’t feel like a failure if you don’t win.
1. Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards
These annual awards offer up to $10,000 cash and are exclusive to self-published books. Every category will have a first prize winner, with the grand prize going to a single author at the top. As a relatively easy contest to enter, this is an easy starting point with a lot of possibilities.
2. IndieReader Discovery Awards
This award comes with a bonus for every book entered: you’ll get a written verdict from IndieReader. Even if your book fails to place, a positive verdict is a badge of honor you can post as a critical positive review on your book.
3. Independent Publisher Book Awards
This is not one specific award or contest. Rather, it’s a list of several upcoming events open to self-published writers, often in specific genres or niches for a more targeted experience.
4. IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award
This contest is encouraged for, but not limited to, members of the Independent Book Publishers Association. Two separate entry periods gives you more flexibility to get your book in on time and up to par.
5. Forward Indie’s Book of The Year Award
With fifty-five different categories, Forward Indie’s award contest is judged by a team of librarians and booksellers and is exclusive to self-published authors. Criteria include professionalism, overall value, and originality.
6. Next Generation Indie Book Awards
This is the biggest contest for self-published authors, and one of the best known. The Next Generation Indie Book Awards offer a series of cash prizes for winners in eighty categories and a generous runner-up list.
7. The Best Indie Book Award
The BIBA, or Best Indie Book Award, is one of several awards by the organization—book covers and book illustrations covering the other two arenas.
8. The National Indie Excellence Award
While closed for entries as of writing this post, the National Indie Excellence Award has a variety of categories and several separate awards
9. CIPA EVVY Book Awards
This is one of the oldest self-published book awards and has been active for over thirty years. It’s open to entries from around the world in a variety of styles, and is a longstanding and prestigious reward option respected throughout the industry.
10. eLit Book Awards
The eLit Book Awards offer discounts on authors who are willing to submit early, but are very flexible with submission timing if you want to take your time to polish your work to its best potential. Entries for 2022 are not available yet as of this writing, but you can sign up onto a list to receive updates for the moment you can send in your book.
11. Forward Reviews Book Awards
Forward Reviews offers a number of services to authors, including reviews, editing services, and an annual award. If your book should be a winner or finalist, you can expect it to be marketed to librarians and booksellers as a recommended book as well as a cash prize and expanded distribution.
12. Global Ebook Awards
Dan Poynter’s Global Ebook Awards emphasizes publicity—and not just if you win. Every nomination gets a sticker and multiple promotional opportunities, also allowing authors to track the success of their promotions. Winners get additional support and walk away with both better critical recognition and a better idea of how to sell more books.
13. Independent Press Award
The Independent Press Award sends out thousands of press releases for each winner and can give you media attention as well as a shiny badge to display on your book. As a winner or a distinguished favorite, you’ll have a unique opportunity to draw people to your writing.
14. International Book Awards
The International Book Awards accepts any books written within the past few years. As of this writing, the extended deadline for the 2022 contest is quickly coming up, so if you’re interested, this is a good time to throw your book in the ring.
15. IPPY Awards
In addition to recognizing books according to their genres, the IPPY Awards have additional categories for geographic regions from the United States, Europe, and the rest of the world. These awards celebrate the broad scope of independent publishing, whether from self-publishing authors or independent and hybrid presses that don’t play by traditional rules.
16. Kindle Book Awards
At $32 per entry, the Kindle Book Awards is one of the easiest competitions to enter, and it allows novellas as well as full-length novels. This contest is large and focuses on books available through Amazon’s Kindle store with an emphasis on popular reading and genres.
17. Midwest Book Awards
The Midwest Book Awards is exclusive for books published in and about the American midwest, and a full state lineup is included in their “About” page. If you live in the lucky region, membership to MIPA is completely free and can give you access to exclusive resources in addition to the opportunity to enter your book for their award.
18. National Indie Excellence Awards
The NIEA’s come with a free downloadable badge for winners and finalists as well as the opportunity to order physical stickers for use at in-person events. The window for submission closes early in the year, so mark it on your calendar in advance to slip in.
19. Nautilus Book Awards
The Nautilus Book Awards hold many of the same categories as other book awards, but their emphasis is different: Nautilus loves children’s books. If you write picture books, early reading chapter books, teen books or YA, this award might be your best fit.
20. Readers’ Favorite
The Readers’ Favorite Book Award is quite possibly the best-known award on this list, open worldwide to both self-published and independently-published authors. Simply by entering, your book will be entered to win one of many raffle packages by publishing companies and you’ll be competing with authors from all levels of publishing for a fantastic prize.
Are contests worth it?
It depends on your book and its quality. As you can see above, several of these awards have prizes available even for nomination, and the claim that your book was entered has a weight of its own. That being said, it’s always a good idea to check past contest winners and see if your book is what the judges want to read.
If you’ve won an award or have an experience with any of the contests listed above, please tell us about it in the comment section below. You can also click the blue button to join my group for self-publishing fiction writers on Facebook.