Four Contests Open to Indie Authors

By Nancy Hellekson

There are many contests open to indie authors, but you must do your research. All too many are scams. They take your entry fee and you never hear from them again. You may email them to find out the winners and never get a response. There was no contest; they have just made some easy money.

Having presented you with that caveat, let’s look at some legitimate contests that you may want to enter:


Best Indie Book Award

Best Indie Book Award

The annual Best Indie Book Award® (or BIBA®) is an international literary contest recognizing outstanding achievement by indie authors. Entries are limited to independently (indie) published books, including those from small presses, e-book publishers, and self-published authors.  All submissions must be written in English.

$65 Fee Per Category.
Deadline To Enter: Noon (EST), Oct 1st, 2021.
Winners Announced by December 30th, 2021.

Entries must be independently published (self-published), or published by a qualifying small press. (Please see our FAQ page for more information.)

Books that are not accepted: Works that are under a conventional publishing contract with a major publisher. (HarperCollins, Harlequin, etc.)

*No hardcore erotica.

We will accept any indie book published between 2016 and this year. (The book must be in English and currently available to the public.)




National Indie Book Awards

National Indie Excellence Awards

The National Indie Excellence® Awards (NIEA) are open to all English language printed books available for sale, including small presses, mid-size independent publishers, university presses, and self-published authors. NIEA is proud to be a champion of self-publishing and small independent presses going the extra mile to produce books of excellence in every aspect.


Books Eligible

  • The National Indie Excellence® Awards selection committee reserves the right to determine the eligibility of any book.

  • Please send one copy of the print version of your published book per category entered. 2020, 2021 and 2022 publication dates are eligible (advance reader copies and galleys are not accepted).

  • Your book must be available for sale by the submission deadline. 

  • Put all the categories in which you submit on one Submission Form and be sure to place a copy of the submission form and in each book you send in, one for each category. All titles must have an ISBN and be published books.

  • Indie Excellence® is open to all English language books that are available for sale wherever good books are sold both on Amazon.com and in bookstores. 

  • Books published by Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin, Random House, or Simon & Schuster are not eligible to apply.

  • We are not accepting e-books.

  • We reserve the right to move books into another category if it seems appropriate.


Forward Indies Book Awards


Forward Indies Book Award

Since its creation in 1998, the Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards has served to showcase the talent of established university and independent press titles, as well as emerging authors who self-publish. Well aware of the challenges faced by small publishers, our goal is to highlight deserving books—those that not only meet our editorial standards, but also blow our minds—to our audience of librarians, booksellers, industry professionals, and other book lovers, domestically and internationally.

By entering your book into the awards program, you will be offered a free subscription to Foreword Reviews, covering six issues of our print magazine.

The Judging Process

The INDIES are distinguished by an intense judging process utilizing professional editors, booksellers, and librarians. Our final judging process sees each book evaluated by a librarian and a bookseller, the decision makers for millions of book buys a year. They carefully appraise finalist titles using the following criteria: editorial excellence, professional production, originality of the narrative, and the value the book adds to its genre. Foreword Reviews reserves the right to withhold awards should any book not meet our criteria of editorial excellence and professional production standards.

What Finalists and Winners Get

We announce finalists on our website in March, and winners in June. Honored titles are also showcased in the many platforms of Foreword Reviews including the print edition, via digital newsletters, as well as to our international media list. Additionally, wherever we list your book online, we try to include links to order it through Amazon.com, IndieBound, and Bookshop.

Along with two $1,500 cash prizes, one for fiction, the other nonfiction, finalists and winners can count on being seen by the librarians, booksellers, industry professionals, and book lovers that read Foreword Reviews in print and our weekly e-mail, Foreword This Week. They will also be promoted on our social media channels and have the chance to be placed on the award winners shelves at the many international events attended by the Foreword Independent Press Collective. Press releases linking finalists and winners will be sent to Foreword Reviews’s 10,000+ list of media and industry professionals.



New Masters Review Short Story Contest

New Master’s Review Summer Short Story Award

$3,000 prize. Deadline is close.

The latest short story award from the Master’s Review has been announced. The top prize for winning fiction piece is $3,000 plus the story will be published online. The award for second is $300 and $200 for third. The three winners will also receive an agency review. The guest judge is Kristen Arnett, author of With Teeth and Mostly Dead Things.

The deadline for submissions is August 30, 2021.

Here are the guidelines:

  • Winner receives $3000, publication, and agency review
  • Second and third place prizes ($300 / $200, publication, and agency review)
  • Stories under 6000 words
  • Previously unpublished stories only
  • Simultaneous and multiple submissions allowed
  • Emerging writers only (We are interested in offering a larger platform to new writers. Self-published writers and writers with story collections are welcome to submit. Writers with novels published with small circulations (around 5000 copies) can also submit.)
  • International English submissions allowed
  • $20 entry fee
  • International submissions allowed
  • Please no identifying information on your story
  • All stories are considered for publication

For further information on the Masters Review’s extensive resources and to submit your short story go to  https://MastersReview.com. Be sure to sign up for their newsletter while you’re there.

4 thoughts on “Four Contests Open to Indie Authors”

  1. Thank you for sending this information. I do have one question as an indie author: can I enter multiple contests with one fee? Or must I send the $65 fee for each contest?

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