Friday, September 11, 2015

10 Awards for Self-Published Books

Updated 6/6/20

Among the dozens of awards for self-published books, there aren't many that are worth winning. The majority of self-published book awards don't confer any benefit to the author, other than a seal that winners often must pay for. And many of these contests are run by media groups that use them as a way to drum up business.

That being said, there are a few contests that are not only prestigious, but offer considerable prizes to the winners, either in terms of cash or publicity. I have listed 10 of the most worthwhile below.

With two exceptions all of these contests charge a fee, although in most cases the fees are reasonable (under $100).

While cash awards are always appreciated, as is the publicity generated by awards ceremonies, these benefits are fleeting. Before you enter any contest, make sure you have a long-term plan in place - just in case you win. How will you make good use of your award? Will you order gold seals to affix to your book cover (if it is in print)? Do you have a press release in place to announce your prize to local media? How about researching opportunities for talks given by an "award-winning author"? Even if you don't think you stand a chance of getting an award, when it comes to marketing and promotion, it is always a good idea to plan ahead.

Deadlines for these awards vary from year to year, so make sure to check the website, and plan in advance.

Axiom Awards. Authors and publishers throughout North America and overseas publishers who publish English-language business books and that are intended for the American market may enter. Print-On-Demand and other independent authors are welcome to enter their books themselves. Genre: Business books. Entry fee: $95 per title, per category. (Early bird fee is $85.)

The Benjamin Franklin Awards are administered by the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) with help from over 150 book publishing professionals including librarians, bookstore owners, reviewers, designers, publicity managers, and editors. The Benjamin Franklin Awards are unique in that all entrants receive direct feedback on their entries. The actual judging forms are returned to all participating publishers. Indie publishers and self-published authors are invited to enter the next competition for books with a copyright date of the competition year. Genre: Any. Prize: Announcement to major trade journals (including Publishers Weekly and Book Business), to select public libraries, through all IBPA social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter, the IBPA Blog. Entry fee: IBPA member – $95 per title, per category. Non-IBPA member – $225 for first title, which includes one year’s membership in IBPA; $95 per title, per category for second and subsequent entries.

The Book Designer: Monthly e-Book Cover Design Awards. Aside from the fact that there is no fee for this contest, an additional reason to enter is that Joel Friedlander's site gets a substantial amount of traffic. Genre: Any Indie book cover. Entry fee: None. Deadline: Revolving.

Eric Hoffer Award. The Eric Hoffer Book Award is one of the largest international book awards for small, academic, and independent presses. Anyone (including the author) can submit one or more books for the Eric Hoffer Award. Printed, e-books, and chapbooks are accepted. Genre: Any. Prize: $2,000 grand prize and various category honors and press type distinctions, as well as the winners of the Montaigne Medal, da Vinci Eye, and First Horizon Award. The book awards are covered independently by the US Review of Books. Entry fee: $55 (chapbooks $40).

IACP Cookbook Awards The IACP Cookbook Awards honor the authors, publishers, and other contributors behind the best cookbooks published each year. Awards are given in 16 categories, including the with one cookbook selected as the Cookbook of the Year. Three optional awards, the Jane Grigson, Design, and Judge’s Choice Awards, may be presented should qualified entrants emerge. Entry fees vary.

Independent Publisher Book Awards. All independent publishers are eligible, ranging from self-published authors to major university presses. About 2,400 publishers participate in the Awards each year, from every U.S. state, Canada, and English-speaking countries overseas around the world. The 2015 IPPY Awards attracted 5,700 total entries; winners came from 45 U.S. states plus the District of Columbia, six Canadian provinces, and ten countries overseas. Genre: Any. Prize: IPPY Award entrants have four ways to win: the National, Regional, E-Book and Outstanding Books of the Year (which all entrants are considered for with no extra fee). Award winners are headlined on Independent Publisher, and are featured prominently in articles in their monthly newsletter, which goes out to over 15,000 subscribers worldwide, many of whom are agents, buyers, and librarians. Entry fee: $75.00 per category. 

The Next Generation Indie Book Awards. Not-for-Profit book awards program for indie authors and independent publishers. In its ninth year of operation, the Next Generation Indie Book Awards was established to recognize and honor the most exceptional independently published books in over 70 different categories, for the year, and is presented by Independent Book Publishing Professionals Group ( in cooperation with Marilyn Allen of Allen O'Shea Literary Agency. Open to all indie publishers including independent publishers (small, medium or otherwise), university presses, self-published authors, e-book authors, seasoned authors and even first time authors based in the U.S., Canada or internationally who have a book written in English. Genre: Any. Prizes:
  • $1,500 Cash Prize and trophy awarded to the best Fiction Book
  • $1,500 Cash Prize and trophy awarded to the best Non-Fiction Book
  • $750 Cash Prize and trophy awarded to the second best Fiction Book
  • $750 Cash Prize and trophy awarded to the second best Non-Fiction Book
  • $500 Cash Prize and trophy awarded to the third best Fiction Book
  • $500 Cash Prize and trophy awarded to the third best Non-Fiction Book
  • $100 Cash Prize and a Gold Medal awarded to the winner of each of the 70 categories
  • Finalist Medals will be awarded to up to five finalists in each of the 70 categories
Entry fee:  Early Bird Special Entry Fee is $75 and includes the entry of one title in two categories. Price to enter two categories increases by $50 after early bird deadline. 

Shelf UnboundShelf Unbound book review magazine reaches more than 125,000 readers in the U.S. and in 65 other countries around the globe. Genre: Any. Prize: The author of the book named as the Best Independently Published book will receive $500, a year's worth of full-page ads in Shelf Unbound, and editorial coverage in Shelf Unbound. Five finalists will receive editorial coverage in Shelf Unbound. More than 100 books deemed by the editors as "notable" entries in the competition will also be featured. Entry fee: $50 per title.

Spark Award. Sponsored by the Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. Genre: Children's book. Prize: The winner and honor recipients will receive: a Spark seal to display on their book;  commemorative plaque; the opportunity to have their book featured and autographed at an SCBWI conference of their choosing during the year the award is won, featured in the SCBWI online bookstore and publicized through SCBWI social networking sites. The winners will also get the opportunity to attend any conference of their choice tuition free (other than for extras such as critiques and intensives). Entry fee: No fee.

Writer’s Digest holds annual Self-Published e-Book Awards–a competition that spotlights today’s self-published works and honors self-published authors. Prizes: One Grand Prize winner will receive:
  • $5,000 in cash
  • A feature article about you and your book for the May/June 2016 issue of Writer’s Digest
  • Winner’s name on the cover of Writer’s Digest magazine (subscriber issues)
  • A paid trip to the ever-popular Writer’s Digest Conference!
  • 30-minute platform & marketing consultation with Chuck Sambuchino, author of Create Your Writer Platform
  • $200 worth of Writer’s Digest books
  • One year Subscription (new or renewal) to Writer’s Digest magazine
One First Prize winner in each category will receive:
  • $1,000 in cash
  • Promotion in the May/June 2016 issue of Writer’s Digest
  • $100 worth of Writer’s Digest books
  • One year Subscription (new or renewal) to Writer’s Digest magazine
Entry fee: First entry—$110. Each additional entry—$85.


  1. Thanks for sharing this excellent list!

  2. Also check out the Feathered Quill Book Awards. We encourage nominations from Indy authors:

  3. As a board member of the nonprofit organization James River Writers, I’d like you to add our upcoming contest to your list.
    Here is more information:
    James River Writers recognizes the writing talents and entrepreneurial skills of indie authors by continuing The Best Self-Published Novel Contest, which we started in 2014.
    Contest Details
    One first-prize winner will receive $500 and a ticket to the annual James River Writers Conference. The winner will be announced in October 2016 at the James River Writers Conference. Press releases will also recognize the winner.
    Two finalists each receive $200.
    More information here:


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