Indie Authors: Book Awards

Book awards are a great way for a book to gain prestige and can be an effective marketing tool (you can include a seal on the cover to make your book stand out). They can also lead to traditional publishing contracts. (See my post on becoming a hybrid author.)

As a starting point, The Book Designer offers a list of awards for indie authors, along with links. And Bibliocrunch offers a list of competitions open to self-publishers that were open in 2012 and 2013 (presumably, they are annual). Ben Zackheim also writes about the top 5 writing contests, along with helpful advice on what to look out for and how to make the most of contests.

Additionally, here’s a list of a few more contests, divided into two categories: contests you pay to enter, and contests that are free to enter.


eLit Book Awards

  • Sponsored by Jenkins Group
  • Submission fee: $60 per title, per category (until August 31, afterwards price goes up to $70 until November 30, and then $80 until contest closes)
  • Prize: Category winners have their books featured on for one year, as well as Books are also highlighted in the monthly newsletter, which has 20,000 subscribers.


  • Submissions open during June and July
  • Also has a cover art competition
  • Submission fee: $25 for members, $35 for non-members
  • Prize: A trophy

Eric Hoffer Award

  • Submission fee: $50
  • Prize: $250 for short prose and $2,000 for a full-length book

IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards

  • Submission fee: $95 per title for members, $225 for non-members
  • Prize: A gold seal

IPPY Awards

  • Sponsored by Jenkins Group and Independent Publisher
  • Submission fee: $75
  • Prize: Seal/sticker, PR, and a party at BookExpo America

The National Indie Excellence Awards

  • Prize: PR at BookExpo America, news release, stickers, and inclusion on
  • Deadline is end of March, but it’s an annual event

The Wishing Shelf Awards

  • Created by UK author Billy Bob Buttons
  • Submission fee: $48 per book (100% refund if you are not satisfied with the competition)
  • Prize: A certificate and a quarter page, full color ad in The School Librarian
  • Added benefits: All entrants received feedback from judges, a quote/blurb, and a review on Amazon and Goodreads

UK Folio Prize

  • Submission fee: £4000 for each shortlisted book
  • Prize: £40,000
  • More details on ALLi

Very Short Fiction

  • Sponsored by Glimmer Train, for short stories under 3,000 words.
  • Submission fee: $15
  • Prize: First place wins $3,000 and 20 copies of Glimmer Train Stories

Writers Digest (multiple contests)

  • Submission fee: Ranges from free to $110, depending on the contest
  • Prize: Ranges from $500, $2,000, $3,000, depending on the contest


Amazon Breakthrough Novel

  • An annual contest (deadline for 2014 was March 2)
  • Prize: $50,000 and a publishing contract with Amazon

Deep River Books

  • Prize: royalty-based publishing contract with Carmichael Books
  • Contest begins in November every year and ends January the following year

Fish Publishing

  • Multiple contests for short memoirs, flash fiction, poetry, and short stories
  • Prize: Ranges between €1,000 and €3,000, depending on the contest

Guardian Legend

  • Open only to UK residents, for works of fiction
  • See more here

Indie Author Land

  • For self-published books between January 2013 and April 2014
  • Submissions closed on April 6, but may be annual

Milkweed Prize for Children’s Literature

  • Check periodically for submission period to reopen (no deadlines)
  • Prize: $10,000 and a publishing contract

SCBWI Spark Award

  • Submission: Free, but must be a SCBWI member
  • Prize: Spark seal to display on their book, a commemorative plaque, book featured in the SCBWI online bookstore and marketed on SCBWI social networking sites, and receive the opportunity to sell their book at the SCBWI Summer or Winter Conference in Los Angeles or New York
  • See more detailed information about the award on Fiction Notes

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