Posted by: Blue Horizon Books | February 10, 2021

‘Tis the season for entering book contests!

A writer I worked with last year on his first novel recently sent me an email from the North Street Book Prize committee, which informed him that before they made a public announcement on February 15th, they wanted to let him know that his final rank in the 2020 contest is Semi-Finalist. They added that they “regret to inform you did not win a cash prize, but we admired The Risk in Crossing Borders and I hope you will feel encouraged. We received 1,915 books and yours was among the top 3%.”


Well, congratulations, Bill McClain! You now have bragging rights to being a Semi-Finalist in the 2020 North Street Book Prize! That’s the type of thing authors can include in their press releases and on the covers of new editions of their book, and on the covers of books still to be written. Even more than the promotional aspects of it, it is very gratifying to a writer to receive positive affirmations about their efforts.

Is it worth it to shell out $65 or more to enter a contest? Yes, says one writer, Rhonda Rees, for The Independent Publishing Magazine. Among other things, Rees surveyed LinkedIn groups devoted to independent writers, and found that “Most agreed that what is important is to actively market your award. Just like with anything else, the prize itself is not enough to boost sales – but it can certainly open doors if you know how to work it.” In other words, the prize itself did not necessarily generate sales, but book buyers (librarians, bookstore owners) and agents paid more attention to book covers that touted the winning of a prize and had the seal of that prize on their covers.

The North Street contest is just one of many of the many that award prizes, including cash prizes, to independently published authors. No, these are not the Pulitzers, the Bookers, the Edgars, or the National Book Critics Circle awards. But many are legitimate, and many are geared to the ever-growing ranks of self-published authors and independent publishers.


Writing for BookBub, Evelyn Maguire concurred with this finding. She said that in an “A/B test” BookBub conducted, “readers responded well to mentions of an author’s accolades, including awards the author has won. Blurbs that named prestigious, genre-specific awards boosted CTRs by up to 25%, with an average increase of 5%.” Maguire included mention in her article of 30 book awards that authors should know about, with many of them being a “must enter” for indie authors.

Book Contests, Prizes & Awards for Indie Authors: I have gradually been putting together a spreadsheet with contests, awards, prizes of interest to independently-published authors, and am happy to share the LINK. Many of these have a deadline of this month, February 2021. And many others have deadlines that start this spring, with earlier submissions getting a discount.

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