Not sure I’d call myself an expert after one round of book award contest submissions. But, I have learned a thing or two from the big leap. Which it was… I thought I could take a breather after my indie book, Sunbelievable, was published in October 2011. Wrong. I was already backing into award contest season, and the clock was ticking.
I started with a simple Google search for “children’s book awards.” Then the race was on! In writing this post, the content become more expansive with information about specific contests and the submission process. So, I broke the topic into several parts. Part One is a general overview of general considerations.
Part One: Children’s Book Award Contests — Tips for Independent Authors
1. Not all contests accept self-published books, but many encourage their participation. Some are geared specifically to independent authors, including the Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPY), the National Indie Excellence Award and the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) Benjamin Franklin Award. Mentioning these awards is not an endorsement per se, but these are highly regarded organizations favorable to self-publishers.
2. Submission fees. Be prepared to pay a fee per contest as well as additional fees for more than one entry category. Many award contests offer multiple categories–for example, illustration, cover design, story, rhyme and character. The categories are clearly delineated, so it’s always helpful to consider where your book has the best opportunity for an award.
3. Submission guidelines: Each contest has its own set of guidelines and “rules.” Read these carefully, especially if running into the deadline. It’s always a good idea to set up a spreadsheet that lists each award, entry fees, deadline, date submitted, date of award. I’ll include a spreadsheet as an example in this series focused on keeping track of the award contest submission process.
4. Sending books to contest judges. Again, each award contest differs. It may be required to send at least one book if not many more, depending on the number of categories entered and the number of judges for each category. USPS Media Mail is a cost effective way to send books in 2 to 8 days, and it includes tracking.
5. Award cycles. For the most part, books published in a certain year–let’s say 2012, are eligible for contests specifically for that year. The award cycle generally begins in the fall, with deadlines through spring of the following calendar year. If at all possible, try to time the publication date of your book to align with the award contests you wish to enter. Not all contests, however, require the year of publication date. Some contests accept entries during the year. The Mom’s Choice Award, for example, generally makes award decisions within 8 weeks.
Is it worth it? This depends on your publishing goals and budget! Winning a reputable, well-recognized award offers marketing opportunities that can only help create great buzz for you and your book! Has it been worthwhile for me? Absolutely. Winning the Mom’s Choice Award 2012 is fantastic, and hopefully just the beginning!
The next post will focus on types of awards for self-publishers, with lots of references and sites to visit. Stay tuned for Story Quest Thursday!