‘Tis the season for awards – Grammy Awards, Golden Globes, Oscars, and more. It is also the season for book awards. While they may not be televised or as well known by the general public, book awards can be tremendously valuable to the marketing efforts of the winning books.
When a book wins an award, the result is free publicity for the author and usually additional book sales. The Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award are probably the most well-known and prestigious, but other book awards exist specifically for self-published or small press books.
There are two types of book awards to consider – competitive awards and quality awards. They are both great opportunities for validation and PR opportunities and can be very helpful in getting the attention of book store buyers and librarians.
Competitive book awards
In this type of award program your book is judged against other books in a particular category. This type of award is typically awarded annually and will have an entry deadline and a specific schedule when the award is announced. Some will announce a group of finalists first and then later announce a final award list. Most awards of this type are announced between March – May around publishing conferences and Book Expo America. Most prizes are awarded annually, and there are numerous ones for different categories of books.
Quality book awards
This type of award is different in that your book is judged against a standard of quality and excellence. These awards usually have a rolling schedule and accept entries and announce awards throughout the year. They can be a great way to earn an award early in the availability of the book since you don’t have to wait to enter. While these awards typically have higher entry fees, they can be an excellent opportunity to gain a third party stamp of approval that is not dependent on being the top book in you category for the year. Two awards of this type that I have had good experiences with are the Nonfiction Book Awards and Mom’s Choice Awards.
Choosing which awards to enter
But be careful—not all book awards are created equal. There are many awards and new ones springing up each year. Almost all awards require an entrance fee, per book and per category. If you enter every one available to you it can get quite expensive.
I recommend to you develop a strategic plan so you are purposeful in your award entry choices. Research the awards you may qualify for to see which ones will fit best into your marketing strategy. Important things to look at include:
- How long has the award been in existence? Those that are well established are likely more well known in the publishing industry and among book store buyers and librarians. However, a new award may have fewer entries giving your book a better opportunity to shine.
- What kind of PR does the award program provide for winners? Typically, you’ll see press releases and a listing of winners from prior years on the award website. Some make their announcement of winners in conjunction with large publishing industry events.
- What tools do they provide for winners to use in their own marketing? This includes things like award seals for you to affix to the cover of your book and in promotional materials. What is the additional cost to the winners to use these seals? It is common to be given a limited number of stickers and have the opportunity to purchase additional seals. Winners can also get digital versions of the seals to add to their book cover art work but may have to pay an additional licensing fee for this.
- Who are the past winners of the award? Looking at previous winners can give you an idea of the quality of the books that have won. You can get an idea of how your book will stack up.
- What are the category choices for entry? If there are only broad categories (i.e. Business) your book will be in a much bigger field of competition than if there is a category that is more specific (i.e. Sales or Women in Business).
Managing award opportunities
Researching awards, preparing entries, and tracking the awards entered can take a considerable time and effort commitment. This is a service that Professional Author Assistants can manage for busy authors as part of the Author’s Dream Team . Each award has its own set of requirements and attention to detail is very important to avoid disqualification. You’ll want to keep track of the awards you have entered and assure that the samples required are received. You can download an Excel spreadsheet to use to log award entries below. This is just one of many forms and checklists available through the Professional Author Assistant Training and Certification Program.
Have any of your books or your clients’ books won awards? If so, comment and let us know your experience.