Are book awards in your future? For as long as you can remember, you've wanted to write a book. It was a dream you pushed aside for a very long time, but you never gave up. Today, you're holding your freshly printed book baby in your hands. Not words on a screen, but a real, honest to goodness book. Just like the kind you grew up reading. It's surreal, isn't it?
Now that the writing, editing, cover design, more editing, layout, and printing is done, it's time to consider applying for book awards. Book awards are available to all authors from New York Times bestselling authors with major publishing houses, to the first-time self-published author. And even though anyone can apply for an award, not everyone does, nor should they.
Is there a book award in your future?
Maybe. Maybe not. Just like writing your book, there is a process to follow when it comes to book awards. And if you don't do things in order, or if you skip a step, you'll end up wasting a lot of time and money. Don't do that. You've got more important things to do with yourself. The first and most important question you need to ask yourself is why.
Why would I want a book award?
There are four common reasons to apply for a book award. Understanding your motivations about book awards will allow you to determine whether going forward makes sense. Take some time (as in beyond the time it takes to read this post), and decide if and why applying for a book award will serve you.
Ego tends to get a bad rap, so I want to be clear from the start. If you determine your reason for wanting to apply for a book award is about ego – there is nothing wrong with that! We aren't judging the reasons a book award may or may not make sense; we are discovering our own reasons!
Ego is about bragging rights if we win. It might be feeling that writing the book wasn't enough; we need to have an award for it to matter. Maybe it's about justifying the time we spent writing the book when everyone around us said nothing would come of it.
Applying for a book award because of ego may be about seeking proof that we're worthy. About seeking approval outside ourselves. It's about feeling good. And who among us doesn't want to feel good?
Validation is probably the least common of all reasons to submit for a book award. It can be confused with ego. However, it is vastly different. Seeking validation of a book, in the form of a book award is something most authors, who want an award, for this reason, seek out before releasing their books publically. Validation is something that will likely make or break an author's decision to share their book with the world.
During the book writing and editing process, many authors use beta-readers to ensure our message is clear. Before I sent my book to the editor, I enlisted the help of more than a dozen beta readers. I was seeking specific feedback and provided the readers with questions to answer. As is usually the case with self-published authors, I had an existing relationship with my beta-readers. Their feedback was not about validation.
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My book, Smiling on the Outside: Secrets, Sex, Shame and the Search for Self-Love is an inspirational story of resilience. Due to the personal and provocative nature of my book, I wanted validation from experts that my book hit the mark and connected with readers. I also understood how the book could potentially impact my children. I believed validation in the form of a book award would give them a quick retort if anyone said something negative about me or the book, to them.
Rushing my book to print, receiving it more than three months before the release date, was necessary to meet the first award deadline. I applied for numerous additional book awards where award announcements were scheduled before the release of my book. How and where I would promote my book, was going to be based on what happened with these awards.
In that sense, my decision to apply for book awards was also related to the third reason people seek book awards.
Even authors who are not working with big publishing houses, know the key to selling books is marketing. Organizations and companies who offer book awards know that, too. One glance at an award website and you'll see all kinds of suggested ways to use your book award in marketing. So do you need a book award to successfully market your book? Not at all. And yet it's true, book awards can't hurt and they often help elevate your book's credibility.
When you win a book award, often times you'll get more than the title of “winner” or “finalist,” you'll also receive tangible benefits. Cold hard cash as a benefit isn't as popular as we'd like, but don't let that discourage you. Tangible benefits of book awards often equate to money you'd be spending. Things like receiving free press-releases; videos; free stickers or digital images of the award (some contests make you buy them when you win); consultations from experts, and even reviews by agents.
As you consider whether or not a book award is a necessary component of your marketing plan, remember this: Just because you enter, there is no guarantee you'll win. A book marketing plan should be comprehensive, with awards being only one component.
People frequently ask me about book awards. How did I win so many? (Six so far!) Where did I find them? What's the best way to use them? Rarely, does anyone ask about the why?
Take some time and sit with this information. Evaluate what's best for you and your book, figure out if you need an award and why. And if you decide you want to seek out book awards and need some help, I'm here for you.
I'll be detailing your next steps in a future post.
If the idea of receiving a book award appeals to you, why?