Bird Face Wendy

Things relevant to reading, writing, publishing or marketing teen fiction.

The Real Scoop on Book Award Competitions, Part 1

on December 5, 2018

girl reading book-841171_1920

I struggled for years deciding whether it was worth the time and expense to enter book award competitions. My first publisher had made the decision for me and covered the cost of entering my first book, now out-of-print, in the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards. That book, the original Bird Face, won the bronze in the category Pre-Teen Fiction Mature Issues.

Fine and dandy, but with a new publisher and new books, entering award competitions was up to me. Which is often the case if an author has a small, indie publisher instead of one of big publishing houses. And really, does winning an award accomplish anything, especially if it’s not a Newbery or Caldecott Medal? Sales are the important thing, right? Shouldn’t an author concentrate on that?

Still, I entered the second book of the Bird Face series in the Moonbeams. (I didn’t know of any other appropriate competitions for my books back then.) Nothing came of that. Someone nominated my third book for the Grace Awards, and I entered it in the Carol Awards. Both of those are Christian book award competitions. It was a finalist in the Grace Awards. It didn’t achieve anything in the Carols, but a wonderful thing happened. One of the judges contacted me after the competition was over and told me that she had loved my book. That was so gratifying!

I was inspired. I started paying attention to awards that other novels written for tweens and teens had won. If I ever had a novel I truly believed could be a winner, I wanted to treat entering competitions like a science instead of taking a hit-or-miss approach.

The next novel published, The Other Side of Freedom, was my favorite. A coming-of-age historical tale set in 1925 Louisiana during Prohibition, it felt special to my husband and to me.

So I researched. I read articles and blog posts by agents, editors, and other authors listing book award competitions they recommended—or didn’t. Disagreement existed, of course. I didn’t take any one person’s word to heart for any particular book award contest, but rather looked for a positive consensus among several opinions. Then I considered not only cost to enter but available categories, prizes given, award presentation events, and previous winning authors I might have read. I noticed the cutoff for entries and compared that to the date for announcement of finalists or winners. Would they really have time to read all the entries and make a sound decision? The appearance of the awarding organizations’ websites played a factor but was not as great as the rest. (Note: Most organizations I researched had categories for nonfiction or separate award competitions for them.)

I spent a lot of time studying the book winners of various contests in categories where I thought my book might fit. Judging by Amazon samples and reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, did those books appear to be well written? Winners included self-published, indie/small-press published, and those with imprints of large publishers.

I made the decision to enter as many book award contests for The Other Side of Freedom as I could afford. Some competitions I found were free, some had very small fees or early-bird specials, and the cost for some made me pause—quite a while. But I figured someone had to win those money prizes, cool medals on ribbons, glamorous trophies, and get their names and book titles in press releases and catalogs. Why not me? And if the competitions placed my book title in front of new eyes (meaning new potential readers), the cost was small compared to most marketing opportunities.

So, here’s the beginning of my list of those competitions I entered over a period of ten months and some details about them. Learn more by following the links.

Independent Publisher Book Awards (Jenkins Group, Inc.)  I entered the “IPPY” awards in one category, Multi-cultural Fiction Juvenile/YA, for which I had to mail one book and pay a fee. I also entered  the Illumination awards for books written with a Christian worldview in the category Juvenile/YA, mailed  two books, and paid a fee (I missed the early bird rate). Results: My book did not win in either competition. Notes: This group also conducts the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards. Author friends of mine have won in these at different times!

Next Generation Indie Book Awards (Independent Book Publishing Professionals Group) I entered two categories: Historical and Children’s/Juvenile Fiction. I paid a fee and had to mail three copies of my book. Results: First Place Children’s/Juvenile Fiction and Grand Prize First Place Fiction. Plus an awards gala, medals, trophy, and cash prizes!

Got you interested yet? It’s easy to spend hours, days, even weeks researching book awards.  I hope you’ll look into those mentioned above.  Then be sure to follow this blog to learn about ten more competitions I entered for The Other Side of Freedom. And what happened!

Advertisements

4 responses to “The Real Scoop on Book Award Competitions, Part 1

  1. Thanks for sharing this, Cynthia! I’m looking forward to the next part. It’s hard to know whether awards are “worth it.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for commenting, Carolyn. I hope to help other authors wade through the contests that are available to self-published and indie authors. And come out benefitting from them, not just soaked!

    Like

  3. Very informative. Thank you! I look forward to reading the rest of your research. AND apply it!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You’re welcome, Linda. Thank you for reading my post and wanting to read part two. I hope the information benefits you in some way.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: