#MKTG 19 – Book Awards

Hello, SE’ers! It’s Jan again to talk about another aspect of marketing our books through entering book award contests. I’m going to take a look a the pros and cons.

Image courtesy Pixabay AxxLC

First, I want to take a look at the pros of entering book award contests.

  • It gives extra exposure to your book
  • Can boost an author’s confidence
  • Gives an author bragging rights when there’s a win, place, or show 🙂
  • Often book award contest judges provide invaluable feedback to the author
  • Raises your book’s credibility status
  • You can win cool prizes
  • They are inexpensive
  • You get to add the words, “Award-Winning Author” to your credentials (when you win)
  • You can display your award trophies or medals at book signings
  • Can provide motivation to keep writing!

The first book award I won gave me the confidence to call myself an author. Up until that time, I still wouldn’t say the words out loud. My second book was my first win. Then my third book garnered two wins in two separate contests. I’ll never forget the elation of that second announcement. Somehow, I think my daughter must have had a heads-up because she showed up with flowers to the award ceremony.

Photo by Deva Deaton 2016

Did that give me a boost? YES! It lit a fire in me, and I felt validated as a writer. I was sure I had mastered this thing called writing books. Needless to say, that was short-lived as I realized I still knew little to nothing about crafting stories.

The most prestigious win I’ve ever had is a bronze medal from a Reader’s Favorite contest. That one took my breath away!

I love Reader’s Favorite for reviews as well as their yearly contest.

Let’s look at the downside of entering book award contests.

  • You don’t win
  • It costs money
  • Your confidence is crushed
  • You might want to give up completely
  • You lose faith in your book, making it hard to keep pushing it with love
  • It’s heartbreaking, much like seeing a child ostracized by their playmates (our books are our babies)
  • It may cause you to feel anger toward the judges (after all, who are they, and what do they know?)
  • You’re embarrassed
  • It may not be a legitimate contest (Do your homework!)

I’ve entered plenty of contests I didn’t win, so I have experienced almost all of the above thoughts and emotions. And as heartbreaking as it is to see one of your books shot down in a contest, in contrast, the joy of seeing it place is undeniable.

Is it worth the cost to enter book contests?

In my opinion, the answer is a big YES! I will clarify that by saying I have a monetary limit that I will not exceed to enter any contest. For me, that is $99. I won’t spend more than that and mostly seek out contests that are $40 or less. After all, in this day and age, what will two twenty-dollar bills buy? Not much. But it could buy you a win, prestige, confidence, and motivation.

I’d love to hear from you about your experience with book award contests. Have you ever participated and won? Lost? Let’s talk about it.

If you’ve missed any of my previous book marketing posts, here they are:

#MKTG Part 1 – OVERVIEW – BOOK MARKETING OPTIONS

#MKTG Part 2 – FACEBOOK ADS AND PASSION PAGES

#MKTG Part 3 – FACEBOOK ADS DETAILS

#MKTG Part 4 – TWITTER ADS

#MKTG Part 5 – INSTAGRAM

#MKTG Part 6 – PINTEREST

#MKTG Part 7 – IN-PERSON EVENTS

#MKTG Part 8 – GOODREADS

#MKTG Part 9 – AMAZON

#MKTG Part 10 – More AMAZON ADS

#MKTG Part 11 – AMAZON A+ CONTENT

#MKTG Part 12 – LinkedIn

#MKTG Part 13 – BOOKBub Ads

#MKTG Part 14 – Book Blog Tours

#MKTG Part 15 – Paid Book Blog Tours

#MKTG Part 16 – Rafflecopter

#MKTG Part 17 – TikTok

#MKTG Part 18 – Building an Email List

62 thoughts on “#MKTG 19 – Book Awards

  1. Pingback: MKTG #20 – SCAMS | Story Empire

  2. Pingback: This Week at Story Empire – Joan Hall

  3. Great post and congrats on your recent win. I love Readers Favorite too and have placed there a couple of times. I agree it does give a writer validation but the downside does make one question themselves too. I am careful where I enter and limit it now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’d say you are being very wise, Denise. I too am pretty picky about where I enter, where at first, I’d enter everywhere I could. I think being more selective pays off. Thank you for adding to the conversation!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You’ve had some wonderful wins, Jan. I’m certain there will be more in the future. I think awards are a great way to market your work–even if the book doesn’t win. It let’s people know about the author and the work. Thanks for sharing your personal experiences.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love hearing about your wins, Jan, and I can imagine the boost to your confidence. I haven’t entered many contests, primarily because I haven’t found a good list of legit contests that are reasonably priced. (I haven’t looked very hard either, I’ll admit). Do you have a resource list? I’d also be interested in how often you recommend entering contests. Thanks for sparking my interest. I’m going to hunt around on the internet a little. 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    • I would love to put together a resource list of legitimate contests, Diana. I will work on that. However, I can readily recommend Reader’s Favorite. It is a reputable and huge contest. You might also check around your local area or state for contests to enter. I’m glad I sparked your interest! You’ve got a fabulous story to enter somewhere!! Good luck!

      Liked by 1 person

      • You inspired me to hop on the internet and browse a little. I found four that I might follow through on, all under $65. And I added Reader’s Favorite too. I haven’t done any paid promotion is a while, so I might go for it and see what happens. Thanks for the motivation!

        Liked by 1 person

    • It’s definitely not good to let entering contests discourage you as a writer. Sometimes it’s the genre, or the contest, or the judges and what they are looking for. I’ve been on both sides of the coin, both entering and judging contests, and each one is different. Thank you for the congrats and kind words. I’d like to encourage you not to give up on contests. Your newest stories are in such a defined niche. There has to be a place for them.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I haven’t entered a book contest, but I have entered several short story contests, a poetry contest, and flash fiction contests. Some are even free, and give you an award to display. I have been fortunate to win a few short story contests, and to have my stories published and get that award, and I even won a poetry contest that yielded a cash prize.

    I do think in the future, I will consider the book contest. As you said, there are two types of emotions you will experience. You can’t always win, but it certainly feels good when you do.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Your pro and con analysis is a good one Jan. I have entered contests and have won and can say “award winning” author. I would encourage anyone to make sure the contest entered is one that has a solid reputation. There are many out there that are just a money drain and the outcomes not very impressive.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hmm, I never thought about awards and never entered any of my books. I’m not sure I’d know how to seek them out, but I definitely see the merit in giving it a try. An excellent post, Jan. This is something I would certainly consider entering as opportunities arose.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I entered contests in my early years as a writer, and won some, but I was never sure of the validity/value. Apart from adding ‘award winning author’ to my bio/bylines, I didn’t see any noticeable benefit or difference in sales, etc. Also, I felt the badges detracted from the covers rather than enhanced in most cases. You make great points both for and against, Jan. As with much of this stuff, doing our research is key, and I’m sure the ‘right’ award would make all the difference. Thanks for sharing! And huge congrats on your achievements! Hugs 💕🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • The validity of any contest is super important, Harmony. And I do think it lends a bit of credence to an author’s byline. Whether or not a contest helps sell books…I’d say it’s probably 50/50. But having the title of an award-winning author does have some value, in my opinion. Thank you so much for lending your comment to the conversation today!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I’ve never entered a contest for my books. Mostly because of the cons you listed, but also I’ve just never thought of participating in some. I might give it a try next year. Thanks for another great post, Jan.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the post, Joan. I think when we weigh the pros and cons, the pros win when it comes to book award contests. I hope you’ll find one to enter next year! I highly recommend Reader’s Favorite. 🙂 Thanks for joining in!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I’ve won contests at book conferences (in fact, winning a contest was how my former agent got interested in me in the first place), but I’ve never submitted to other contests. It’s something I should probably look into. I used Readers Favorite for a review for Type and Cross (got the five-star medal) but never even thought about submitting to their contest. You raise good points, Jan. It would definitely give more exposure, and a win would be a confidence boost. Great post.

    Liked by 2 people

    • How amazing that winning a contest brought you in contact with an agent, Staci. That’s a great testimony of how they can lead to more opportunities. YES! You should have entered Type and Cross in the Reader’s Favorite contest! It’s a great story. But you can definitely enter the new story. And you are right. It gives more exposure and adds to the confidence factor. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. My problem is finding contests I’m eligible for. Most seem to be restricted to groups I don’t belong to. Ethnic minorities, authors living in particular places, young authors, first book, poetry, non-fiction, genres I don’t write in, literary, short stories (with particular themes) etc.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is true, V.M. Some contests are restrictive to the categories you mentioned, but some have more general categories and guidelines. It’s just a matter of finding what fits. Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment!

      Like

  13. Congratulations on your success with book contests, Jan. I’ve never entered my published books into a contest, but I did obtain my first publishing contract through a contest entry, so I’m a huge supporter! Thanks for sharing your experience.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Loved this one! The pros and cons were amusing but also carried weight behind them. Someone suggested I enter my first book for a Chill With a Book award. I won. It then won the Chill With the Book of the Month one, too. I’d never considered that I could use it as an award winning writer tag. Oooh! 😀

    Liked by 4 people

  15. HI Jan, I am sure entering book contests also motivates people to get the book written by a certain date. I have not entered book contests, but I have entered a few short story challenges. Those have been helpful to me and got me started writing short stories in the first place. I had an honourable mention for the first one I entered which was nice. I recently won the 2022 WordCrafter short story competition which is nice. I have a short story currently in a challenge and being judged. Between you and me, I want that story for my own short story collection I am writing so I’m almost hoping it isn’t chosen.

    Liked by 5 people

  16. The first award Pride’s Children: PURGATORY ‘won’ (it was a finalist) turned out to be a terrible contest. I still see the badges somewhere, but after I got such poor feedback, I realized that my being a ‘finalist’ basically meant I could spell: there were over 40 finalists.

    The one I’m proud of was one which I entered for the review which would also be provided – that review, Janet Jackson of Indies Today, absolutely blew me away: she understood me, the book, what I was trying to do. I’m sure that ended up being the reason for the award – 2021 Best Contemporary – and I could finally put some muscle into it, legitimately.

    Before that, and except for the one dud ‘award,’ I had nothing.

    Indie awards can be good because they are not limited to a single year – indies take longer to find themselves and their marketing.

    I’m at the same stage for NETHERWORLD, the second book in the mainstream trilogy, and I will be deciding which to pursue, but from the perspective of having had a recognized one it is a lot easier.

    A good award is a game changer; but sales don’t necessarily follow (I was naive about that) because the sites don’t market, though they will list you with the winners. I hope the second one, and then finishing the trilogy, will keep the ball rolling.

    Liked by 4 people

    • You bring up a very valid point, Alicia. First of all, if a contest has a large number of finalists, it should serve as a red flag. The first contest I won was exactly that way. Almost everyone who entered won, so it took away from the validity of the win. However, as you say, winning a legitimate contest is a great boost of confidence and gives you more marketing muscle. Thank you for sharing your experience!

      Like

      • Bad contests are money-makers for their originators, and a source of disdain from those who don’t know what they are – but most of the reading public does NOT know this, and accepts them as legitimate markers of quality. It’s advertising – people are now used to the exaggeration.

        But there are countless authors out there with a few of these awards – and no sales to match them.

        And most of the awards we might like are STILL not open to indies.

        Liked by 1 person

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