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Book Marketing Tip: Apply for Awards
Written by
Maria Murnane
September 2015
Written by
Maria Murnane
September 2015

By now many of you know that I began my career as a self-published author, and that one of the reasons (if not the reason) my first novel (Perfect on Paper) got picked up by a publisher was because of all the grass-roots marketing I did to get it noticed. (Click here to check out my webinar explaining exactly what I did.)

One key component of my marketing campaign was to apply for awards. I knew that with awards comes credibility, and I was right! Perfect on Paper won almost all the awards for which I applied. That helped open doors to organizations such as book clubs, which led to more positive reviews, which led to speaking engagements, which helped open more doors, etc. That's the thing about marketing - it's all about getting one thing to lead to another. You never know what's going to work, so you have to keep trying a lot of things. 

While some of the awards Perfect on Paper won are no longer around, here are some still available to indie authors:

National Indie Excellence Book Awards

Independent Publisher Book Awards

USA Best Book Awards

eLit Book Awards

Global eBook Awards

This article lists some more.

Applying for awards takes time (and sometimes money, depending on whether or not there's an entry fee), but I can say from personal experience that if you win, it's worth it! And even if you don't win, going through the process of applying for an award is a good experience because it shows you the importance of presenting your work in the best light, from the description and cover design to the manuscript itself. 

You can also use the materials you prepare for an award application for other marketing purposes, such as reaching out to book clubs, newsletters, alumni magazines, etc. Now get applying!


Maria Murnane is the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services to aspiring and published authors. Learn more at

This blog post originally appeared on Reprinted with permission. © 2015 CreateSpace, a DBA of On-Demand Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved.

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  • Karen A Szklany Writing

    Hi Maria,

    Thank you so much for this tip!  I will save your list of resources. ~:0)


  • Jane Hanser

    Oops. on second thought, the webinar is $75 dollars.

  • Jane Hanser


    I have several awards, notably a B.R.A.G. Medallion and two Finalist awards from IPNE (Independent Publishers of New England) and I see people's eyes light up when they see the book cover and with the award stickers, but I don't know that it has helped my overall sales much at all. Yes, I get many congrats, which is always nice, but the sales have not appreciably increased. For an independently published book, the awards mean a lot because, and I hate to say it, but the quality is so variable and this award means that my book meets a higher standard, which it does.

    Nevertheless, I will look at your webinar but it's 80 minutes, which is some heavy set-aside some time time. You mean my not watching CNN cover Donald Trump? Or missing out on baseball post-season? I'll find a time, though (and hopefully long before the primaries and post-season is over).
    Maybe your webinar will help me answer the question: Where do I go from here? Do I enter more contests? One thing I have done recently that may be helping: I've made business cards and, depending on the circumstances, and have become very liberal about handing them out!


    Jane Hanser

  • Years ago, Johnny Carson asked Bonnie Raitt where she keeps her Grammys.

    "In my bedroom!" she quipped.

    I'll admit that's one of the things I get out of winning awards:  A much-needed ego boost when I'm feeling insecure.  But, I so agree with you, Maria, awards do so much more.  By applying for -- and not even always winning -- awards, I've been published in some fabulous anthologies (one of which is a Ben Franklin award winner!).  You just never know who is reading those entries.

    I'll go one step further:  Apply with any stand-alone sections of your book before it's finished.  8 chapters of my (nearly complete) book have won 19 awards.  The early exposure and support are incredible!  Great idea to incorporate contests and awards in an overall marketing strategy.  Thanks for this inspiring post!

    Kelly Hayes-Raitt

    Mosey on over to my web site and sign in for your free gift -- an mp3 of me reading my book's first chapter about a beggar in Iraq! ...And a pre-publication discount!

  • Christine Keleny

    For midwesterners - I'd also recommend the Midwest Book Award.

    I agree with Maria - My first book won an IPPY Award (independent Publishers) and my last book was a finalist for a Midwest Book Award. Both organizations have stickers (electronic and paper) you can purchase to put on your books. I find I have gotten more traction from award books from individuals than organizations like bookstores or libraries but then I don't know who has taken a second look but didn't decide to pick up my book, and I consider second looks a good thing too! :)

    And remember - most (if not all) awards can only be entered for the book published the previous year e.g., 2016 award for a 2015 published book. Application dates will vary depending on the award so check them out in the fall of the year you published your book.  You may have until the spring to enter but you may not.

    Christine Keleny

    CKBooks Publishing

  • Sue Y Wang

    Just published my memoir on healing body and spirit. This is interesting and fun to explore (and of course it helps with marketing). Perfect timing. Thank you!

  • Thanks for this, Maria. I have also found awards to be helpful in validating my work. Agents and editors do take note.

  • Patricia Robertson

    I guess I have to put this on  my list of goals for 2016 - enter at least one writing contest!