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Winning Book Awards: The Question that Prompted a Discussion
It all started with an excellent question on Facebook.
In my eight years with SBPRA, my nine rhyming picture books My Little Angel, The Golden Rule, Mice & Spiders & Webs…Oh My!, My Fingerpaint Masterpiece, Manner-Man, Gimme-Jimmy, The Magic Word, Peter and the Whimper-Whineys and Santa’s Birthday Gift have received forty-eight 2011-17 International and National awards. Am I special? I don’t know… As background, I am a former teacher, mother of four and a grandmother of ten, which is one of my proudest achievements!
All of my books are also part of a fund-raising effort: http://sbpra.com/curejm/ for the CureJM Foundation, to help find a cure for Juvenile Myositis, an incurable children’s disease. 50% of the cost of the books is donated to the fundraising cause. There is also another fundraiser for the I’m Bully Free organization, found at http://sbpra.com/imbullyfree to help kids cope with bullying! Manner-Man just loves this site!!!
Incidentally, I am also the author of seven published and internationally performed plays for elementary school children, which have been produced in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom as well as Australia, Austria, Botswana, Cambodia, France, Germany, Iceland, India, Ireland, Japan, New Guinea, Norway, Poland, Singapore, Spain, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates (so far). I also travel with my husband of 56 years throughout North America in our RV, sharing my books along the way!
I have been asked to offer a few suggestions for “how to win an award for your book”, which I really wish I knew!!! But I can offer some ideas about how to have your book considered for an award…which really involves your judgment in choosing contests to enter, and your ability to follow directions on how to submit your book for the contest. Whether or not you win is up to the judges!!
Winning Book Awards” Succinct advice from Robert Fletcher, the CEO of SBPRA:
Do Enter Contests If:
- You believe in the quality of your writing
- You have several 5-star or 4-star reviews from qualified reviewers (not just friends and family.)
- You are looking for a strong marketing “bump”
Do Not Waste Your Money On Contests If:
- Your book is not edited
- Your book is not published
- Your pitch is not polished (looked at by a competent 3rdparty).
Now, for those of you who feel you qualify:
First of all, I feel that winning an award is one the most helpful tools for marketing books. An award gives your book instant credibility, since it has been selected by judges to represent the best of your genre compared to many other books submitted. When potential buyers select books written by less-well-known authors, they tend to choose award-winning books.
Next, let me also remind you that I write children’s picture books, so my “expertise” is really in that genre, especially when recommending suitable contests. However, these contests have many, varied categories for entries for all kinds of books – and you must be sure to enter your book in the right one. (Hint: Take a look at previous winning books in each potential category.) One other comment: You will note that I recommend contests that are possible for “Indie” (Independent & Small Press) authors to have a chance. The really “famous” ones – like the Newbery and Caldecott and ALA, etc. – are pretty much controlled by the “Traditional” publishers. You can enter, but please don’t hold your breath!
The first step would be to be sure that you have several 5-star or 4-star reviews from someone other than friends and family. This will let you know if your book is potentially award-winning, especially since contests often seem to look at your Amazon and Barnes & Noble reviews. Some (like Readers Favorite) will offer you a chance for a “fast-track” review (for a fee) or will get your book reviewed for submission (included in contest fee.) I usually go for the fast-track, since it gives me some marketing promotion material early, as well as a better idea of whether or not to submit. You should also choose a contest that will best appreciate your book and that has a reasonable contest fee. They seem to range from $50-$95, depending on how soon you submit your application. I wouldn’t recommend paying over that, although there are some contests like the Mom’s Choice that charge $500 but have extra marketing perks such as listings on amazon’s Award Winning Books.
Winning Book Awards: I recommend the following:
- Readers Favorite International Book Awards,
- Reader Views Reviewers Choice Literary Awards,
- National Indie Excellence Awards,
- NABE Pinnacle Achievement Awards,
- Next Generation Indie Book Awards
- International Book Awards (IBA)
- USA Best Book Awards – Early-bird entries are listed on their website!
- IPPY (Independent Publisher Book Awards)
- Dan Poynter Global eBook Awards
- Children’s Literary Classics (CLC Awards)
- Independent Author Network (IAN) Awards
- Mom’s Choice Awards
I have entered all of these awards, and feel they are reputable and have good recognition value as well as reasonable entry fees. Most of the above require paperback versions (which I prefer since my books are for small children) but many of them also allow eBook submissions. They all have many other categories for whatever genre book you are choosing to submit. Obviously the Dan Poynter Global eBook Contest is only for digital books.
If you are just starting out, a good way to get into the contest mode is through the NABE Pinnacle Achievement awards, and some of what I call the “Regional” awards offered through the DIY Convention Festivals. You can find them all online at diyconvention.com. (These contests were originally sponsored through JMNorthernMedia.) I have entered the London Book Festival (for UK exposure) and the Los Angeles Book Festival (since I happened to be in LA during the time of the awards.) There are many other locations for these Award contests throughout the U.S. and internationally, so you should check their website. Unfortunately, the award ceremonies for these regional award contests are fairly expensive if you wish to attend (even though they do provide an opportunity for each author to give a speech)…but it’s a nice way to find out if your book has award potential! You can always skip the ceremony and request an award certificate and stickers to put on your book covers.
Once you have selected a contest, you MUST FOLLOW DIRECTIONS! First, check to see when is the Deadline for submissions, then check the available categories to decide where best to place your book, and then fill out the application completely and correctly. (They may ask for number of pages, publication year, ISBN, sometimes a synopsis, word-count, whatever – so be prepared to fill it out accurately.) Sometimes the applications are available for download to be printed and mailed, and sometimes you can place them on-line. I always print out my application form to check it for accuracy before submitting it, especially for on-line submissions, and sometimes you are required to print it out to include it with the copy of your book! Whatever they ask you to do, DO IT! You can usually choose PayPal or Credit Card for payment – but sometimes they will require a check. (Please be sure that is filled out with the correct amount and signed, for inclusion with your submission.)
Then be sure to include the correct number of books required, with whatever forms they have asked you to include, along with payment if by check, and address it to the correct address provided by the Contest! (I always send mine by USPS Flat Rate Priority mailer, which includes confirmation with tracking information. The mailer also provides protection for your books.)
Then the hardest part: waiting for the announcement release of the award winners!!! Good luck!!! I hope that this will encourage many of you to submit your books and eBooks for contests – and I REALLY hope you will be a winner too.
Please ask any questions you might have, and I will feel free to contact me if you like. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Winning Book Awards: Sherrill Cannon’s List of Awards
Sherrill S. Cannon – 48 Awards: (By Book, In Year Received)
2017 – Readers’ Favorite Award Finalist – My Little Angel
2017 – NABE Pinnacle Achievement Award – My Little Angel
2017 – Reader Views Reviewers Choice – 2nd Place – The Golden Rule
2016 – Book Excellence Awards – Gold Medal – The Golden Rule
2016 – Children’s Literary Classics – Silver Medal – The Golden Rule
2016 – Mom’s Choice Award – Silver – The Golden Rule
2016 – Readers’ Favorite Award Finalist – The Golden Rule
2016 – NABE Pinnacle Achievement Award – The Golden Rule
2016 – Children’s Literary Classics Seal of Approval – The Golden Rule
2016 – Global eBook Gold Medal – Mice & Spiders & Webs…Oh My!
2016 – FAPA President’s Award – Bronze Medal – Mice & Spiders & Webs…Oh My!
2016 – Reader Views Reviewer’s Choice – H.M. – Mice & Spiders & Webs…Oh My!
2015 – Readers’ Favorite H.M. Award Winner – Mice & Spiders & Webs…Oh My!
2015 – NABE Pinnacle Achievement Award – Mice & Spiders & Webs…Oh My!
2015 – Global eBook Bronze Medal – My Fingerpaint Masterpiece
2015 – Children’s Literary Classics Seal of Approval – My Fingerpaint Masterpiece
2015 – National Indie Excellence Finalist – My Fingerpaint Masterpiece
2015 – Next Generation Indie Awards Finalist – My Fingerpaint Masterpiece – C’s Pic Book
2015 – Next Generation Indie Awards Finalist – My Fingerpaint Masterpiece – C’s Juv. Fiction
2015 – Reader Views Reviewer’s Choice – H.M. – My Fingerpaint Masterpiece
2014 – Readers’ Favorite Gold Medal Winner – My Fingerpaint Masterpiece
2014 – Reader’s Favorite Illustrations Award – My Fingerpaint Masterpiece
2014 – NABE Pinnacle Achievement Award – My Fingerpaint Masterpiece
2014 – CLIPP Awards WINNER K-2 – Manner-Man
2014 – KART Awards Winner – Manner-Man
2014 – Global eBook Silver Medal – Manner-Man
2014 – National Indie Excellence Finalist – Manner-Man
2014 – Reader Views Reviewer’s Choice – Winner – Manner-Man
2014 – Rebecca’s Reads Choice Awards – H.M. – Manner-Man
2014 – Los Angeles Book Festival – Winner – Manner-Man
2014 – London Book Festival H.M – Manner-Man
2013 – Readers’ Favorite Silver Medal – Manner-Man
2013 – NABE Pinnacle Achievement Award – Manner-Man
2013 – Global eBook Silver Medal – Gimme-Jimmy
2013 – Indie Excellence Finalist – Gimme-Jimmy
2013 – Reader Views Reviewers Choice 3rd Place – Gimme-Jimmy
2012 – Readers’ Favorite Silver Medal – Gimme-Jimmy
2012 – NABE Pinnacle Book Achievement Award – Gimme-Jimmy
2012 – Next Generation Indie Book Awards Finalist – The Magic Word
2012 – Global eBook 3rd Place – The Magic Word
2012 – International Book Awards Finalist – The Magic Word
2012 – Reader Views Reviewers Choice 2nd Place – The Magic Word
2011 – NABE Pinnacle Book Achievement Award – The Magic Word
2011 – Readers’ Favorite Gold Medal – The Magic Word
2011 – The USA “Best Books 2011” Finalist – Peter and the Whimper-Whineys
2011 – Readers’ Favorite Bronze Medal – Peter and the Whimper-Whineys
2011 – Readers’ Favorite Silver Medal – Santa’s Birthday Gift
2011 – Indie Excellence Finalist – Santa’s Birthday Gift
Sherrill S. Cannon is a former teacher and grandmother of ten, and the author of nine published rhymed children’s stories which have received forty-eight 2011-17 National and International awards. She is also a playwright with seven published plays for elementary school children, which have been performed internationally in over 20 countries. Most of her books try to teach something, like good manners and caring for others. Married for 57 years, she and her spouse are now retired, and travel in their RV from coast to coast each year to spend time with their children and grandchildren. She has had a varied career: She was a teacher and coach, a professional newspaper sports writer and photographer, a dinner theatre stage manager, and a business administrator. Now she has time to write, when she’s not marketing (which is the other half of writing.)