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The Cream of the Crop

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PUBLISHED JUNE 2017

Compiled by Alexa Schlosser, Managing Editor, IBPA Independent


A handful of 2017 IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award™ winners discus what makes submitting to awards worthwhile and offer tips for those looking to medal.


Jennifer Scroggins, Vice President, KiCam Projects

Jennifer Scroggins, Vice President, KiCam Projects

Title: Beautiful Scars
Authors: Lori Highlander and Kilee Brookbank
Category: Inspirational

>> Do you submit to book publishing awards often? To which ones do you submit?

As a relatively young publisher, we’re new to awards. The IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards™ were our first submission! We felt we had a truly wonderful book, and we value the way the IBPA cares for indie publishers. This was a natural fit for our first foray into the process.

>> What value do you gain from submitting to (and/or winning) book publishing awards?

Brand and title recognition will be huge for us. Not only do we want people far and wide to know about Beautiful Scars, but we want KiCam Projects to become a must-know name in publishing—one that’s associated with well-told, inspiring stories; elegant design; and top-notch editing. Every step helps, and awards can play a valuable role in gaining exposure and building reputation.

>> Tell us about your submission(s) to this year’s IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards™.

Beautiful Scars is really the origin story of KiCam Projects. The authors are our founder, Lori Highlander, and her daughter, Kilee Brookbank, who survived a house explosion in 2014. The book is their story of recovery and healing, both as individuals and as a family. Including both of their voices added perspective and depth to the story; it was important to show the growth of their mother-daughter relationship, as well. As Kilee healed, she wanted to do something to give back to Shriners Hospitals—that’s how the idea of the book came to be. A portion of the profits are donated to Shriners’ Cincinnati facility. Lori then used her business background to start up KiCam Projects because she wanted to create an accessible avenue for other people to share their remarkable stories with the goal of putting positive, inspirational, uplifting work into a world desperately in need of good news.

>> What tips do you have for those interested in submitting for an award?

The best work isn’t written for the purpose of winning awards. It comes from the heart—and from the gut, too—and if you’re doing something you truly believe in, the recognition will be there.


John Goodwin, President, Galaxy Press

John Goodwin, President, Galaxy Press

Title: Battlefield Earth
Author: L. Ron Hubbard
Category: Most Improved Redesign

>> What value do you gain from submitting to (and/or winning) book publishing awards?

As a finalist, I can immediately start promoting on social. I consider it an honor just to be chosen as a finalist. Winning takes it to a new level.

>> What tips do you have for those interested in submitting for an award?

Take great care to produce a great product. Submit it to as many awards as you can. Share your enthusiasm each step of the process from finalist to a win using press releases, social media, and with your sales outlets (as they will feature your book/audio to help celebrate your success).


Jeffrey Alan Lockwood, Professor of Natural Sciences & Humanities, Director of Creative Writing, University of Wyoming

Jeffrey Alan Lockwood, Author, Professor of Natural Sciences & Humanities, Director of Creative Writing, University of Wyoming

Title: Poisoned Justice
Publisher: Pen-L Publishing
Category: Fiction: Mystery & Suspense

>> What value do you gain from submitting to (and/or winning) book publishing awards?

The value is threefold. First, there’s much to be said for peer recognition. Writers are an insecure lot for the most part, so having respected professionals judge one’s work as laudable is important to what is oftentimes a lonely labor. Second, an award provides a substantive opportunity for marketing one’s work, for getting a title into the spotlight of social media—at least for a period of time. And third, an award from an organization with the credibility of the IBPA is a kind of convertible asset in terms of a writer’s future, whether that is in finding an agent or a publisher or other resources.


Nicole Evelina, Author

Nicole Evelina, Author

Title: Been Searching for You and Daughter of Destiny
Publisher: Lawson Gartner Publishing
Category: Fiction: Romance and Best New Voice: Fiction, respectively

>> Do you submit to book publishing awards often? To which ones do you submit?

Yes. My writer friends affectionately call me a contest junkie. They may think of it as me having a problem, but I see it as a way to build credibility. I submit to most of the reputable indie book awards, such as those offered by Library Journal/SELF-e, Chanticleer Book Reviews, Reader’s Favorite, Next Generation Indie Book Awards, Foreword Reviews, IndieReader, the Colorado Independent Publishing Awards, and, of course, IBPA.

>> What value do you gain from submitting to (and/or winning) book publishing awards?

Winning awards gives you credibility with readers because it’s an endorsement of quality from a third party, which is as close to the trusted backing of a major publishing house as indie authors can currently get. The ones with cash prizes also help with the cost associated with self/indie publishing. Plus, it feels really, really good to have your hard work/talent validated, especially in an industry so full of rejection.

>> Tell us about your submission(s) to this year’s IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards™.

I actually entered all four of my books into the contest, and two of them were named finalists. One of the finalists is my historical fantasy Daughter of Destiny, my debut novel, which is the beginning of a trilogy that tells the story of Camelot from Guinevere’s POV. It focuses on her early life before she marries King Arthur. The other is my first foray into romance, a romantic comedy called Been Searching for

You. It’s about Annabeth, a 34-year-old hopeless romantic who has been writing letters to her soulmate since she was 16, as part of a gift she will give to her future husband on their wedding night.

>> What tips do you have for those interested in submitting for an award?

Obviously, write the best book you can. That is first and foremost. Also, be careful to whom you submit. There are many companies out there who sponsor awards that don’t really mean anything and are just intended to part you from your money. Do your research. Be wary of contests sponsored by marketing/media groups and those that don’t offer anything tangible (cash, medal/trophy/ribbon, etc.) when you win or make you pay additional fees for the prizes. Some contests are very expensive, so make sure you are comfortable and that you see real value (not just vanity) before you pull the trigger.


L.C. Fiore, Author

L.C. Fiore, Author

Title: The Last Great American Magic
Publisher: Can of Corn Media
Category: Fiction: Historical

>> What value do you gain from submitting to (and/or winning) book publishing awards?

Winning the Novel of the Year Award from Underground Book Reviews, which my novel, The Last Great American Magic, won this year, proves the endeavor was worth it: the time and money spent, and the energy. It proves that the project had value, and that is immensely fulfilling. Winning a publishing award is great PR for your book, of course, and gives you another reason to contact your media list and share your book through social media. Winning a publishing award validates you as a writer too: not only in the eyes of your peers and potential readers, but (and I think this is especially true for indie books), in your own eyes as well. It means that maybe you aren’t so crazy after all, having spent all those hours alone writing.

>> What feedback have you received on submissions that has stuck with you?

A judge mentioned to me he felt like I was creating a whole new genre with The Last Great American Magic. That’s a problem for bookstores and the Big 5 publishers, but not for readers, and not for judges or critics (i.e., people who just want to read good books). For me, it’s intensely gratifying for someone to appreciate what I was hoping to accomplish with my latest novel.

>> What tips do you have for those interested in submitting for an award?

The product matters. The presentation of your submission package matters. Most importantly, comport yourself professionally, from the cover letter, to the supporting materials, to the book itself. Pay attention to details, be courteous, and remember to be grateful. We’re lucky to get to do this stuff.


Scott Carroll, MD

Scott Carroll, MD, Author

Title: Don’t Settle: How to Marry the Man You Were Meant For
Publisher: Balboa Press
Category: Self-Help

>> What value do you gain from submitting to (and/or winning) book publishing awards?

So far I’ve used the Digital Silver award in my advertising and on informational material I send to bookstores to get them to carry my book. I am also planning a marketing campaign around being a finalist/winning a Benjamin Franklin Award as well. Psychologically, winning also validates me as a first-time writer because I find it hard to evaluate my own work. Even though I may feel like I wrote a good book, it’s hard to really know early on, because your sales are so limited and you only have a few reviews. Even being named a finalist lets me know that I wrote something decent enough that I should keep pushing the marketing because my book has potential.


Tyra Manning, Author

Tyra Manning, Author

Title: Where the Water Meets the Sand
Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group Press
Category: Autobiography & Memoir

>> What value do you gain from submitting to (and/or winning) book publishing awards?

I know that being a finalist or a winner of an award helps me with publicity. It helps get my book more well-known. I also find that it helps to highlight the strengths of my book. In my case, I am committed to breaking the stigma of mental health for individuals and families who may be suffering from mental illness. Submitting to a book award gives me a sense of satisfaction in knowing that message has been extended even further.


>>> The annual IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award™ program accepts entries through December 15th of each year. Click here for details. <<<


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