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Achieving Indie Book Awards When Nobel Laureate Is Not In The Cards – Part I

Winning BallotHave you ever dreamt of winning the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize in literature, but felt your indie status significantly diminished your chances? While the literary world is more accepting of self-published work today versus a decade ago, the possibility of even being selected as a nominee for book awards is remote at the present time.

Barrier to Entry

The major hurdle is that most literary award programs are virtually closed to self-published works. Case in point – Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction stipulates that books must come from a “bone fide imprint.” And the entry criteria for the Man Booker Prize emphatically states that “self-published books are not eligible where the author is the publisher or where a company has been specifically setup to publish that book.”

So what’s an Indie Author to do?

While the publishing world continues to evolve, there’s no doubt that these major literary prizes will eventually acquiesce to the fact that self-publishing is a viable option and one that’s not going away. However, until those changes take place, there are a number of other awards to consider that specifically acknowledge the work of the indie author.

Today, we will talk to the founders of two such organizations that offer opportunities for you to shine in the spotlight and gain exposure and acknowledgment for all your hard work. [Note: Part I features these two companies, and Part II on April 18 will highlight several others.]

Why Next Generation Indie Book Awards?

Next Generation Indie Book AwardsIn speaking with co-founders Marilyn Allen and Catherine Goulet, who both have an extensive background in publishing, it was noted that winning a Next Generation Indie Book Award “is a great credential for any writer to add to their publishing materials, [as it] shows that the work

Marilyn Allen & Catherine Goulet

Marilyn Allen & Catherine Goulet

has been judged against hundreds of projects and is well regarded by professional editors/judges.”

“The reason why we started the Next Generation Indie Book Awards was because we wanted a book awards program that would return all the benefits back to the winners and finalists through cash prizes, awards, marketing, a fabulous awards reception, and more,” adds Allen who heads up the Allen O’Shea Literary Agency.

Mission: In its 7th year of operation, the Next Generation Indie Book Awards was established to recognize and honor the most exceptional independently published books.
Format: Print books and Ebooks
Deadline: February 13, 2015
Organized by: Independent Book Publishing Professionals Group in cooperation with Marilyn Allen of Allen O’Shea Literary Agency.
Eligibility for 2015:  Open to independent authors and publishers worldwide. Enter books released in 2013, 2014 or 2015 copyright date. 60 categories to choose from.
Entry Fees: $75 for the first category entered; $50 fee for each additional category.
Prizes: cash prizes (top prize $1,500), trophies, medals, certificates, marketing opportunities and an annual awards ceremony held in New York City.
Website: Click here
Testimonials:  Click here
Panel of Judges in 2014:  Click here

Why IndieReader Discovery Awards?

IndieReader Discovery AwardsIndieReader was launched in 2009 by founder Amy Edelman as the “essential consumer guide to self-published books and the people who writer them.” The IndieReader Discovery Awards followed in 2011.

Edelman is quick to point out the IRDA judging platform is an

Amy Edelman

Amy Edelman

“awards program,” not a “contest.” As such, there are a number of reasons you should consider entering your title with this group. Like the Next Generation Indie Book Awards, IRDA recruits judges who are bona-fide industry heavyweights, where Indie winners will have their titles reviewed and potentially represented by literary agents Dystal and Goderich.

Additionally, Edelman points out: “Entries into these Awards can make an author’s title subsequently visible via IR’s partnership with USA Today and/or the Huffington Post.”

Mission: To establish a means for indie authors to get their book in the hands of some of the most important professionals in publishing industry today.
Format: Print books and ebooks.
Deadline: March 1, 2015.
Organized by: IndieReader.com
Eligibility for 2015: Books must have been self-published and have a valid ISBN. If your book was originally traditionally published it is not eligible for entry.
Entry Fees: $150 per title per category. $50 fee for each additional category entered (plus a RUSH review fee of an additional $50, 4-6 weeks out). 51 categories to choose from.
Prizes:  The top winners in the fiction and non-fiction categories will receive a Kindle Paperwhite 3G. The first place winner in the Fiction and Non-Fiction categories will also get a review from Kirkus Reviews, a powerful resource for millions of readers, writers, librarians, media executives and the publishing industry.
Website: Click here
Testimonials: Click here 
Panel of Judges in 2014: Click here

Considerations for Authors with Limited Budgets

“As the largest not-for-profit book awards program, we can certainly understand why entrants might question the reason for us charging a fee.  Unlike the other large book awards programs put on for independent publishers, all entry fees collected for the Next Generation Indie Book Awards go towards the running of the program and go back to the Winners and Finalists in cash awards, trophies, medals, certificates, marketing, and a fabulous awards ceremony held at a landmark location in New York City each year,” said Goulet.

Edelman on the other hand points to the marketplace as the decision-maker: “We’re really not in this to try and convince someone — the info is out there and we let them decide what’s best for them and their books.”

More to Come

If you are to look at Book Awards programs as a marketing expense, it’s worth your due diligence to conduct some comparison-shopping. It’s my attempt with this blog and Part II [the one to follow on April 18] to highlight my top picks to narrow your search. And since you have the luxury of time to review the playing field before the 2015 deadline dates, hopefully these selections will isolate the ones that best suit your goals, needs and budget – whether it be for the cash prizes, the recognition, the exposure, literary agent representation, traditional publishing deals, expanding your readership, or all of the above.Screen shot 2014-04-02 at 12.16.11 PM

Readers & Writers: I look forward to your feedback, comments and critiques, and please use BookWorks.com as your resource to learn more about preparing, publishing and promoting self-published books. My blogs appear bi-weekly on the 1st and 3rd Fridays of each month.

Ron Callari

Ron Callari is a contributing writer for several online publications including the Jersey City Independent. He is the published author of Crude Behavior, Uncle Dubya's Jihad Jamboree and the award-winning novel Facebucks. More of his work can be found here: https://roncallari.contently.com

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7 Responses to “ “Achieving Indie Book Awards When Nobel Laureate Is Not In The Cards – Part I”

  1. Jeff Faria says:

    Good piece, Ron. The crux of it you hit upon right away: This is a moving target. Things too will pass. But, what is the environment indies face today, and where are things headed?

    Look at the NY Times, which does not allow indie titles on their best-seller lists. This adversely affects indies, certainly. But another upshot of this is that the USA Today best-seller list is getting more play than ever, as are Amazon best-seller lists. This will have the effect, over time, of eroding the prestige and value of the Times’ list.

    The Times imposed this limit mainly to appease traditional publishers, with whom they obviously have long-standing relationships (including monetary relationships – and yes, Virginia, this is a conflict of interest).

    Publishers themselves are steeped in a culture built on exclusion. When books were sold in physical bookstores space, especially ‘prime’ space, was limited, and major publishers were able to keep smaller players on the outside looking in. So naturally, they have embraced the same tactic with regards to NY Times’ lists.

    I would imagine the same pressures extend towards awards shows, forcing this bifurcation rather than simply handing an award to the ‘best’ books… whatever THAT means exactly. (But that’s another can of worms for another day.)

    At some point an indie book will be released to such acclaim and marketplace recognition that it will shame these exclusive awards shows. Or perhaps the comeuppance of these awards will come about via a slow PR erosion from the release of notable, if not enormous, indie works over the years. Either way, you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

    • Ron Callari says:

      Jeff, you’re right on the money – and thanks for the insights on ‘legacy’ Best Seller Lists – which like you said is grist for another day and something I’m going to address in the weeks to come.

      • Jeff Faria says:

        Hey, Ron. This thread of thought actually leads to an even bigger fish to fry, a story I am working on for someone else re what I believe publishers are actually doing, right now, to compete. It’s unethical and it hurts indies, and I am working to get my ducks in a row with it. Maybe its something we could both publicize, because it should be picked up by mainstream media.

  2. Phil Maguire says:

    There is only one validation for a writer: that people are touched by their work. What good are awards? Who was last year’s bestseller? Does anyone care? What about long term? How many bestsellers last longer than a year? Has JK Rowling ever won an award? And if she did, did it change anything?

    And awards are divisive. Someone is declared a winner so everyone else becomes a loser. But that is just not true. Everyone who writes is a winner because they took up the challenge to make words work for them and obey them.

  3. Jamie Moffett says:

    Thanks for the post Ron, it does seem like a book awards budget would be a move similar to the ever increasing film festival budget for indie films.

  4. This is a great piece, Ron. As someone surrounded by writers looking to break in as an author and looking to write myself in the near term I found this very informative. I also found Jeff Faria’s comment here very telling and supportive of my own opinion that it is very difficult for Indie authors to break in because they are cut out by mainstream media and the publishing companies. For me it will be interesting to see how things flesh out as time goes on, because I only see more and more self publishing authors in the future and there certainly seems to be a need for them to gain recognition so their works can gain some notoriety. Do Indie Discovery Awards / Indie Book Awards have enough Klout potential to help self published authors break through the barriers?

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