Getting and Using Awards
by Kate Bandos
When we started working with Kathy Miller, her first self-published children’s book, Chippy Chipmunk Parties in the Garden, had been out for around six months. The book was beginning to get a little recognition, having been selected as one of only 12 books named to the 2010–2011 Keystone to Reading Book Award List for Primary Grades (a high honor in the state of Pennsylvania). But she wanted more media coverage and more awards.
Seven months later, feature stories about the book had appeared in both her local Pennsylvania newspaper and her hometown paper in Canada, as had a syndicated review and lots of nice review coverage online and in various newspapers and magazines throughout the country. Even more exciting, Chippy Chipmunk Parties in the Garden has now received 15 book awards—and a few are still pending.
Receiving awards for a book can be gratifying, productive, and effective, but submitting a book for awards can be time-consuming and expensive.
The first challenge is deciding which awards to apply for.
Some competitions require only a few copies of the book with the appropriate forms; others require multiple copies and also charge fees that range from $50 to $500 per title submitted.
Some awards are national; some are regional; some are industry specific or category specific; some require that you be a member of the sponsoring organization. And within each of these categories, there are numerous subcategories that relate to a book’s topic or genre; to its cover design, interior design, or redesign; and to many other aspects of the book.
Because deadlines may be tight, it’s wise to do preliminary research without delay; you don’t want to miss out on the perfect award because you missed the filing deadline.
The two best ways to get started with research are:
•Spend time in bookstores and libraries finding out which awards books like yours have won, and then
get detailed information about those awards.
• Enter the words “book awards” in your favorite search engines, along with key words like “mystery,”
“children’s books,” “poetry,” and the like that apply to each book you’d like to submit for an award.
The number of awards is almost limitless, but I’ve compiled this short list of the best-known book awards for independent publishers.
Benjamin Franklin Awards
IBPA (Independent Book Publishers Association)
ForeWord Reviews (formerly ForeWord Magazine)
IPPY (Independent Publisher Book Awards)
IPPY also sponsors the following specialty book awards:
• nautilusbookawards.com—spiritual growth, conscious living, and positive social change
• moonbeamawards.com—children’s books
• LivingNowAwards.com—lifestyle books
• axiomawards.com—business books
For a more detailed list of awards and links to various sites about awards, you can download “List of Book Awards” at ksbpromotions.com/articles.htm.
As you research awards, pay attention not only to requirements but also to potential benefits. For example, don’t assume that winning a particular award will mean you can trumpet the honor on your book’s cover with a brand-name seal. As Miller comments, “Prices of seals vary widely, as do prices for use of the logo. Only a couple of firms give the logo out; most charge for its use. One even charges per imprint if you are going to reproduce it on your book covers, as opposed to buying stickers.”
So, if you are lucky enough to win an award, how do you make best use of it? From our experience, here are some key ways to use awards to increase reviews and sales.
•Order seals to affix to the book cover and use in other ways (see below). End buyers can be swayed
by the fact that the book won an award even if they have never heard of the award before.
•Notify all your distributors, sales reps, and trading partners about the award so they can also use this
information to sell more books.
•Send out a press release about winning the award. While most publications, including most of the
trade publications, may ignore it because there are so many awards they can’t cover them all,
your local paper and your local business periodical might run stories.
•Use the award as an excuse to send out a new round of follow-ups to people you have already pitched
about the book. Here is news that might get it from the bottom of the pile back to the top.
•Highlight the award on all releases you send out, maybe by affixing a seal. That shiny disk might get
the release read.
• Add “award-winning” or “nationally award-winning” book to your signature block.
• Add the award seal to your Web site and post a release or story about it on the site.
• Send news of the award to all your lists of followers or customers.
•Keep mentioning the award in relevant releases and articles. Again, it may not qualify as news, but it
might make media people take a closer look at what you are sending.
• Make a sign about the award for use at talks, signings, and other promotional events.
Being a “finalist” rather than a “winner” can be valuable too. As long as your presentation is truthful, reaching the finals and winning can help you get attention from prospective buyers, coverage from media, and ultimately the sales you seek.
Kate Siegel Bandos has been doing book publicity for more than 40 years, the past 22 from KSB Promotions (ksbpromotions.com). She has worked with thousands of books and authors, and she reports that she can’t imagine how many media contacts she has made during that time.