I’m a big fan of applying for book awards. My first novel (Perfect on Paper) was originally self-published, and I believe that one of the reasons it got picked up by a traditional publisher was that it won multiple awards. However, like every book marketing strategy, applying for awards has its drawbacks. I asked Lauren White of the Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPYs) for her honest take on the pros and cons of applying for awards, and here’s what she had to say:
Book awards are so effective because they judge books based on merit, and buyers and readers understand how rare and valuable that judgment is in today’s age of paid reviews and social media self-promotion. And for self-publishers, the legitimacy and publicity that follow an award win can be unfortunately crucial to getting in the door with booksellers, librarians, and readers; with thousands of books to choose from, that shiny seal of approval from a reputed contest can make a world of difference.
Not to be overlooked is the morale boost and affirmation that come with an award. A panel of judges has understood and valued your unique message, and your work has not gone unseen. For many, that is the impetus and inspiration to continue writing and sharing stories.
Like many marketing services, awards cost money–usually an entry fee from $50-$125. Winning a prestigious award is absolutely worth that fee; relative to other marketing options, it is one of the most cost-effective ways to promote your title. But there is a catch: unlike other marketing options, there is no guarantee your money will result in anything, as there is no guarantee you will win. If you are operating on a very tight budget, that $100 might be best spent on a promotional service that is less of a gamble.
Furthermore, not winning can be disheartening. Always remember that the competition is fierce, and that your words have value regardless of the contest’s outcome!
Thanks to Lauren for her candor! To learn more about the IPPYs, click here.