Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Book Awards: An Essential Marketing Tool
By A. R. Silverberry
Author of Wyndano's Cloak

(CLICK to grab your copy!)

Book awards are an important marketing tool. Readers the world over look to them to separate the wheat from the chaff, allowing them to focus their reading time on the best books out the year. Libraries and bookstores pay attention to the prizewinners when selecting how they will spend their budget. A few years back, a little known writer’s first novel won the Pulitzer. That translated to instant sales for him. All the libraries across the world put in their purchase orders, and all the bookstores stocked their shelves with the author’s book. You may think that book awards are only available to big publishers. Nothing could be further from the truth. Small presses, independent publishers, and indie authors can enter their books for awards, and there are a lot of them out there. Not only that, but most awards offer multiple categories that you can enter, a boon to the writer whose work crosses several genres. Below, I look at some of the bigger and more established awards, as well as some of my personal favorites. I also examine the ways awards can help you market your book.

Let’s start with marketing. Recently, another writer Liked my Facebook Author Page. I reciprocated (always a nice thing to do!). When she wrote back to thank me, she commented on how nice my gold-medal-award sticker looked on the timeline. We got to chatting, found we had a lot in common, agreed to exchange interviews, and she offered to review my novel, Wyndano’s Cloak.

I’ve put stickers for four of my awards at the top of my website’s homepage, and list all of my awards on my Press page. For two years, I had the sticker on my e-book cover, only removing it when I updated the book with a new cover. When I do book signings, I put physical stickers on the books. When I greet customers, I ask them, “May I introduce you to my award-winning novel?” That peaks their interest. Very few people walk on without finding out more! The point of these examples is that you should broadcast your award in every way possible. Put it on your book’s data sheet, which you send with your press packets. Mention it in letters to newspaper editors, radio hosts, reviewers, and bookstores. Include it in all of your press releases. And of course, send out press releases when you win an award, and announce it through social media. Doors will open that might not otherwise open.

There are hundreds of award contests, big and small, that you can enter your book in. Most will charge you an entry fee, so you need to be choosy or you’ll quickly exceed your budget. Focus on the most important ones.

By virtue of how long they’ve been running, because they are regarded highly in the industry, because of the number of people who follow their results, because librarians, booksellers, and agents follow them, the Benjamin Franklin Awards and ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Awards top the list. Both contests are designed to bring to the attention of industry professionals the best books produced by small presses, indie publishers, and indie authors. To bring the highest level of discrimination and respect to the contest, industry professionals—librarians, booksellers, authors, editors, and cover designers—serve as judges. Here’s an example of what can happen. I couldn’t attend the 2011 Benjamin Franklin Awards ceremony. After Wyndano’s Cloak won the Gold Medal for Juvenile/Young Adult Fiction, I got an email from an agent inquiring about international rights and also asking if I had anything else he could look at.

Another top award is the Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPY), which honors the year's best independently published titles. Now in their 18th year, they are open to authors and publishers worldwide who produce books written in English and intended for the North American market. This year, they offer 75 categories of national awards, regional awards, e-book awards, and ten outstanding books of the year. Independent Publisher also sponsors the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards, which is, “intended to bring increased recognition to exemplary children’s books and their creators, and to celebrate children’s books and life-long reading.”

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest offers HUGE exposure through all of Amazon’s amazing channels. The contest is open to individuals who are thirteen or older. They accept entries in the following genres: general fiction, mystery/thriller, science fiction/fantasy/horror, romance, and young adult. You must be the sole author, and the manuscript must be a novel between 50,000 and 150,000 words. Collections, such as poems and short stories, are not eligible. The Grand Prize is a publishing contract with Amazon Publishing to market and distribute the novel, with $50,000, an advance against royalties. First Prize earns a publishing contract, plus $15,000 against royalties. Second and Third prizes are also awarded. Amazon’s contest draws up to 10,000 entries, so even the best work may not place, but it’s worth a shot.

One of my favorite contests is the Eric Hoffer Award, a creation of The US Review of Books. Two grand prizes, awarded annually, are for short prose (fiction and nonfiction, a prize of $200) and for the best independent book (a prize of $2000) from small, micro, and academic presses. Self-published books may be entered. Prizes are offered for various categories and press types. They also offer the Montaigne Medal for the most thought-provoking book, the da Vinci Eye for superior cover art, and the First Horizon Award for the best work from a debut author. Either author or publisher can submit one or more books using their nomination form.

The Readers Favorite Award accepts manuscripts, published and unpublished books, e-books, audio books, comic books, poetry books, and short stories in 100 genres. Unlike some contests, there is no publication date or word-count requirement. English language entries are accepted worldwide from independent authors, small presses, and large publishers. Prizes includes promotion, including book trailer, radio interview, and a month in their book rotator.

For a complete source on finding and entering writing contests, see Writer’s Digest’s Complete Guide to Writing Contests. They include 311 contests from regional to national, from children’s to adult fiction, from nonfiction to poetry to short stories to screenplays; and 24 contests leading to book deals.

With all of these opportunities, all you need is to place in one contest to call yourself an award-winning author! So what are you waiting for? Go for it!

About the Author:
A. R. Silverberry has won a dozen awards, including Gold Medal Winner in the 2011 Benjamin Franklin Awards for Juvenile/Young Adult Fiction; Gold Medal Winner in the 2010 Readers Favorite Awards for Preteen Fiction; and Silver Medal Winner 2011 in the Bill Fisher Award for Best First Book, Children’s/Young Adult. He lives in California, where the majestic coastline, trees, and mountains inspire his writing. Wyndano's Cloak is his first novel.

Wyndano’s Cloak Synopsis:

Jen has settled into a peaceful life when a terrifying event awakens old fears—of being homeless and alone, of a danger horrible enough to destroy her family and shatter her world forever.

She is certain that Naryfel, a shadowy figure from her past, has returned and is concentrating the full force of her hate on Jen's family. But how will she strike? A knife in the dark? An attack from her legions? Or with the dark arts and twisted creatures she commands with sinister cunning.

Wyndano's Cloak may be Jen's only hope. If she’s got what it takes to use it . . . 

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  1. Thanks for having me on your awesome blog today, Amy!

    Best Wishes,

    Writing as AR Silverberry

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