(There are a Bunch Available!)
By John Prince
Just written a prize-winning novel, poetry collection, memoir, or YA? Want to enter a literary contest? Well, there are plenty of choices from national to local. Here’s how to start searching.
From the Agatha Award (Guess that category!) to the Zerilli-Marimò Prize for Italian Fiction, there are no less than 239 of them listed in alphabetical order at https://www.ranker.com/list/american-literary-awards/walter-graves.
Now, here’s a caution. If you click on the prize listed you’ll be taken to an apparently random Amazon book sales page where the recent winners reside. Just in case you wanted to purchase a winner.
So, you will have to check out each individual award as to eligibility and other qualifications to see if you fit.
Sometimes the qualifications are rather arcane.
The National Book Awards, for instance, says “Self-published books are not eligible if published via a publishing service, such as Kindle Direct Publishing. However, if a self-publisher publishes more than one author and is not published through a publishing service, the title would be eligible.” In other words if you self-publish yourself and have gone through the pain and process, you’re not eligible. Publish through an indie publisher like Hallard Press and you’re eligible. Another detail: “Can an author submit their own book for consideration? No. The entry form must be completed by the author’s publisher in order for a book to be considered.”
Of course, national awards attract a national contingent of authors, so the competition is stiff.
Narrowing the field down to the state level, authors associations in each state usually have their own awards contests. Here in Florida the Florida Authors and Publishers Association (FAPA) and Florida Writers Association (FWA) both have annual literary competitions. Go to their websites for full information.
For indie writers check out the Shelf Unbound Best Indie Book Competition sponsored by the Shelf Media Group which has many categories and self-published books are eligible.
Winning a literary contest plays a major role in your book marketing. Suddenly your book is endorsed by real judges, not just your friends and relatives. Your book will be publicized by the judging organization and you can put the award in your Amazon description. For authors doing direct sales there are usually stickers to put on covers and, with print on demand, you can quickly upload a new cover featuring the award prominently.
Naturally, there is a fee for almost all literary contests ranging from very little to a few hundred dollars.
If you believe that your work deserves an award, you want a leg up in marketing, and you’re prepared to risk disappointment, book awards may be a good investment.