Book Awards for Indie Authors still open .. should you enter?

Dr. Judith Briles
12 min readAug 8, 2023

Indie Author Book Awards to consider

Should Authors Enter Book Awards? Which book awards do you enter? Do they matter? And should YOU stick your book toe in the water?

Let’s start with the first question. The answer: sometimes. Depending upon the tenacity of the author/publisher in getting the word out about the book and the award, you could be wasting your money. Awards can be used to market your book, but it doesn’t happen by itself. You will be the primary promoter. Always. People like winners. If you promote that you and your book are an award winner, it will get some buyers attention. The more creative you get; the more attention you will receive. And book sales.

There are oodles of awards programs flashing at you. Some of the more established awards — Moonbeam Book Awards, Purple Dragonfly, American Book Fest Awards, American Fiction Award, International Book Awards, Global eBook Awards, Foreword’s Indies, Ben Franklin, Nautilus, IPPY, Indie Excellence Awards, Independent Press Awards, Independent Press Awards, Nonfiction Book Awards, and the Center for the Book (put your state name in front on Center for the Book to find contact) — send out professional press releases highlighting the winners.

Lots of them. Many have already passed the deadlines for summer and fall announcements. A few are open still.

Some actively promote the winners on their websites and at events. Others release a press release. And some even supply you with “templates” so that you can shout out your news. Copy and paste

Note: Foreword Indies, American Book Fest’s Best Book Awards and International Book Awards, American Fiction Award, Indie Excellence, IPPY, Moonbeam, Global eBook, and the Center for the Book do not require membership to enter their competitions. That’s a good thing in my marketing budget book.

Personally, this is where I draw the line — awards can be big money for the promoter. With that money, there should be some media promotion for the winners and there should be a specific website that cares about all the winners names and their books.

Back to the first question. If you are active in a publishing or authoring organization, consider entering. But if you have to pay a fee to be a member and then another one to enter the competition, take a pass. Your marketing (and these are marketing) dollars are best spent elsewhere.

Is a book award in your midst? You will only know if you enter. you win one — it’s shout-out time. Press releases; posting on all social media you are connected with; add to your website; include in your email signature — where else? Oh, I know … add it to your Book Page on Amazon — at the top as a header before the description! And create a press release for each that you get.

Can book awards make a difference? Yes, if they are the right ones —

Below are a few recommended by AuthorYou and The Book Shepherd that receive ongoing national attention and are worth investing some of your marketing/promotional dollars for submissions. Some give stickers; some give cash prizes; all do national media releases/promotion with winners and finalists and have national recognition. None require that you become a “member.” Deadlines and entry fees for submissions are varied. Submissions and guidelines will give you the details on each site — deadlines could mean books need to be in hand or merely postmarked. Read their rules — there are HOT links in both the name of the award and “here” that will take you to Submissions and Guidelines for each. The highlighted lines have deadline dates for submissions.

Book Awards that are still open –note the PENDING DEADLINES … as in days, so click through and check out asap. And I would suggest you do a “forward” and post on your online calendar for future dates to be aware of.

Note: Not all Awards are a fit for your book or category. Good luck!

American Book Fest Awards

Open to all books, e-books, and audiobooks with an ISBN and published in 2018 and forward (galley copies welcome). Winners announced in mid-November. It covers books from all sections of the publishing industry with over 100 categories — mainstream, independent, and self-published. Winners will be promoted to the entertainment industry. Best Book Awards Guidelines here.

American Fiction Award

Annual American Fiction Awards (AFA) are a specialty book awards program focused on honoring excellence in FICTION. The publishing industry is rapidly evolving. A printed book is no longer just a printed book. Fiction books have the potential to be turned into interactive e-books, television and movie programs, video games, graphic novels, web series, and so much more. Eligible titles must have a 2021–2023 publication date and ISBN number. Galley copies are welcome.

Winners and Finalists will be announced nationally in September 2023. Final Entry Deadline: July 15, 2023. American Fiction Awards here.

International Book Awards

Open to all books, e-books, and audiobooks with an ISBN and published in 2018 and forward (galley copies welcome). It covers books from all sections of the publishing industry with over 100 categories — mainstream, independent, and self-published. Winners will be promoted to the entertainment industry. 2023 Winners were announced June 2023. For 2024 submissions, $74 per title/per category (Expires July 31, 2023). Best Book Awards Guidelines here.

Foreword Book of the Year and Indies Awards

Every year, ForeWord looks back to the best books of the previous year. Submissions for 2024 will close on January 31, 2024 (think 2023 published books). The ForeWord Book of the Year competition provides publishers with a valuable opportunity to breathe new life into the promotion of a distinguished title. These fiercely contested awards are viewed by librarians and booksellers as an important statement about a title they might have overlooked. For fourteen years, savvy publishers have used the gold, silver, and bronze awards as additional marketing material as their titles drift toward the backlist. Foreword magazine is dedicated to independent author and publisher and is well-respected within the library communities.

Foreword Indies and Book of the Year Awards submission guidelines here.

Nautilus Book Awards Recognizes Books and Audiobooks that promote spiritual growth, conscious living, and positive social change, while at the same time stimulating the “imagination” and offering the reader “new possibilities” for a better life and a better world.

They look for distinguished literary and heartfelt contributions to spiritual growth, conscious living, high-level wellness, green values, responsible leadership, and positive social change, as well as to the worlds of art, creativity, and inspirational reading for children, teens, and young adults. September 1 opens for 2024 submissions. Nautilus Book Awards submission guidelines here.

Next Generation Indie Book Awards
A not-for-profit book awards program for indie authors and independent publishers. In its fifth year of operation, the Next Generation Indie Book Awards was established to recognize and honor the most exceptional independently published books in 60 different categories for the year and is presented by Independent Book Publishing Professionals Group. 2024 is now open for submissions until February 14, 2024. Next Generation Book Awards submission guidelines here.

Independent Publisher Book Awards
The “IPPY” Awards were conceived as a broad-based, unaffiliated awards program open to all members of the independent publishing industry and are open to authors and publishers worldwide who produce books written in English and intended for the North American market. “Independent” is defined as 1) independently owned and operated; 2) operated by a foundation or university, or 3) long-time independents that became incorporated but operate autonomously and publish fewer than 50 titles a year. Early Bird for 2024 deadlines usually open in August through November. Independent Publisher Book Awards submission guidelines here.

Benjamin Franklin Book Awards

Named in honor of America’s most cherished publisher/printer, the Benjamin Franklin Awards™ recognizes excellence in independent publishing — sponsored by IBPA — Independent Book Publishers Association (AuthorU is a Member Affiliate of IBPA). Publications, grouped by genre, are judged on editorial and design merit by top practitioners in each field.

Awards to the best books in several categories and are presented to the publishers during a gala awards ceremony on the last evening of the Publishing University (just before the opening of Book Expo America).

For books published in 2023:

There are two periods of entry:

(1) July 1, 2023, to September 30, 2023.

(2) October 1, 2023, to December 15, 2023.

Usually, books published between January 2023 and September 2023 are entered in the first entry period and books published between October 2023 and December 2023 are entered in the second entry period. All entries must be postmarked by December 15, 2023.

Ben Franklin Book Awards submission guidelines here.

The Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards

Designed to bring increased recognition to exemplary children’s books and their creators and to support childhood literacy and life-long reading, the awards are given in 38 categories covering the full range of subjects, styles, and age groups that children’s books are written and published in today.

The contest is designed to honor the year’s best children’s books, authors, and illustrators. Open to authors, illustrators, and publishers of children’s books written in English or Spanish and intended for the North American market. The 2023 Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards contest will accept entries through August 5, 2023, for books with a copyright of October 2021–2023.

Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards submission guidelines here.

The Purple Dragonfly Book Awards is a worldwide book competition that was created in 2009 to celebrate the best in children’s books. Not only do we want to recognize and honor accomplished authors in the field of children’s literature, but we also want to highlight up-and-coming, newly published, and younger writers.

Divided into 55 categories ranging from books on the environment and cooking to sports and family issues to the marketing collateral such as bookmarks and media kits that complement a book, the Purple Dragonfly Book Awards are geared toward books that appeal to children of all ages. We are looking for stories that are original, innovative, and creative in both content and design. A Purple Dragonfly Book Awards seal on your book’s cover, marketing materials, or website tells parents, grandparents, educators, and caregivers that they are giving children a book of the highest caliber. Our judges are industry experts with specific knowledge about the categories over which they preside.

Being honored with a Purple Dragonfly Book Award gives authors the recognition they deserve and provides a boost to further their writing careers. 2024 Purple Dragonfly Book Award Contest is open for submissions. $70 per category on or before March 1, 2024. Guidelines here.

Independent Press Awards gets that book publishers have always counted on awards to highlight the best offerings in a genre or category, and that’s true now more than ever.
IPA is all about getting behind your book and promoting your award on all your marketing materials. We provide an easy-to-download seal to print on your book. Check out the Promotion page to help get additional exposure to key book-buying audiences. Now requesting the next round of book submissions by July 30, 2023.

Guidelines and Submissions here.

Global eBook Awards
Created by Dan Poynter, Global eBook Awards announces that it is now taking submissions for award consideration. The Global eBook Awards are designed to help you achieve these goals. More than a “sticker,” these awards come with a built-in publicity machine. Entries are accepted from both authors and publishers. All entrants in the Global Ebook Awards should have their eBooks in the Smashwords’ system for this contest. If your book is not at Smashwords, email a PDF, epub, or Kindle file with your application. after you have completed your entry.

Founded by self-publishing pioneer Dan Poynter, there is an annual Dan Poynter Legacy Award in addition. I was honored with the first Nonfiction one last year and cherish it. Use our discount promo code: 32%OFF for 2024 entries that will open in January. 2023 Winners will be announced August 13, 2023. Use our discount promo code: 32%OFF Global eBook Awards submission guidelines here.

eLit Awards Open to publishers and authors worldwide creating electronic/digital books written in English and designed for the global marketplace are eligible for entry in 65 different e-Lit categories. Titles published with a 2021 or 2022 copyright or that were released between January 1, 2021, and January 31, 2023.

Available for Books that are published with a 2021–2022 copyright or that were released between January 1, 2021, and January 31, 2023 are eligible. Publishers are to select t category or categories in which the book(s) should be judged. All entries must be received via email or postmarked by January 31st, 2024. Submission guides here.

Colorado Book Awards
This annual program celebrates the accomplishments of Colorado’s outstanding authors, editors, illustrators, and photographers. Awards are presented in at least ten categories, including anthology/collection, biography, children’s, creative nonfiction, fiction, history, nonfiction, pictorial, poetry, and young adult. To be eligible for a Colorado Book Award, a primary contributor to the book must be a Colorado writer, editor, illustrator, or photographer. It doesn’t matter if the book was published by a New Mexico or New York Publisher — the key is someone has to be connected to Colorado.

Entries in the annual Colorado Book Awards must have a copyright date of the previous year. Books published and available in late FALL that have a delayed copyright date are also acceptable — check the guidelines in YOUR STATE.
For Colorado, the submission guidelines and dates are here. Submissions for the 2024 awards will open September 1, 2023.

NOTE: this is Colorado’s program — your state may have a duplicate program. In 1984, the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress began to establish affiliate centers in the 50 states. Today, there is a State Center for the Book in all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. These Center for the Book affiliates carry out the national Center’s mission in their local areas; sponsor programs that highlight their area’s literary heritage; and call attention to the importance of books, reading, literacy, and libraries. Many of them have state awards. Google “Center of the Book” for your state and/or go to http://read.gov/cfb/index.html for more information.

Of course, this list is not “complete” … but it’s a start. Good luck.

Dr. Judith Briles is a book publishing expert and coach. Often, she must roll up her writing sleeves and become a Book Doctor, juicing up storylines and author words. She empowers authors and works directly with authors who want to be seriously successful and has been writing about and conducting workshops on publishing since the ’80s. Judith is the author of 44 books including Author YOU: Creating and Building Your Author and Book Platforms, Snappy Sassy Salty: Success for Authors and Writers, and How to Create a Million Dollar Speech. Her personal memoir When God Says NO-Revealing the YES When Adversity and Loss Are Present is a #1 bestseller on Amazon and her historical fiction debut Secret Journey. Collectively, her books have earned over 45 book awards. Judith speaks throughout the year at publishing conferences.

Throughout the year, she holds Judith Briles Book Unplugged in-person and online experiences: Publishing, Speaking, Marketing, and Social Media. All are two-day intensives limited to a small group of authors who want to be seriously successful. Join Judith live for the “AuthorU-Your Guide to Book Publishing” podcast on the Toginet Radio Network HERE.

Follow @AuthorUYOUBooks and @MyBookShepherd on Twitter and do a “Like” at AuthorYOU, and join the Facebook group Book Publishing with The Book Shepherd. If you want to create a book that has no regrets, contact her.

©2023 Judith Briles — The hebBook Shepherd™ All Rights Reserved.

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Dr. Judith Briles

Dr. Judith Briles is a book publishing and book marketing expert. She is a recipient of 47 national book awards, author of 37 books. Known as The Book Shepherd.