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A Short Guide to Book Awards

book awards

Why Book Awards

Are you interested in becoming an award wining author? How do you find book awards? For high quality writing, book awards are a great way to boost exposure for your book and you as an author. The earlier in the publishing process you learn the necessary steps to qualify for book awards, the better. Different awards have different requirements and are geared towards different types of literature. You should begin by exploring the different awards that are available to find out what is most appropriate for your own writing. When it comes to publicity, a few key awards top the list for public exposure and prestige. For many authors, these awards may be long-term goals that you will need to work toward for some time.

Top Book Awards

The Pushcart Prize

This prize has been awarded to authors published in small presses since 1976. Winners are also included in their renowned anthology, The Pushcart Prize – Best of the Small Presses. There is no entry fee for the Pushcart Prize. Editors of literary journals and magazines nominate writers who have published collections of short stories or poems, or individual poems, essays, short stories, memoirs, or stand-alone excerpts from novels. The founding editors of the Pushcart Prize included Paul Bowles, Ralph Ellison, and Joyce Carol Oates.

The Best of the Net Award

Run by Sundress Publications, this award works to “promote the diverse and growing collection of voices that are publishing their works online.” To qualify for the award, you will need to be nominated by an online literary journal that has featured your work, or nominate your own self-published work that was first published on the internet. There is no entry fee for the Best of the Net award. Winners are included in an anthology available on their website.

The Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction

This award has been publishing short story collections in its Flannery O’Connor Award series since 1983. There is an entry fee of 25 dollars, requiring a manuscript submission for consideration. Two winners are normally chosen from the entries for the top prize, each of which are awarded 1,000 dollars and publication in the award series. The University of Georgia press has published over fifty short story collections in this series since it began.

The Pulitzer Prize

This is one of the most prestigious awards available to authors. There are seven categories for writers, which include biography, poetry, history, fiction, nonfiction, and playwriting. After paying a 50-dollar entry fee, your writing will face five to seven judges who select the best of American literature. Winners will receive a certificate as well as a 10,000-dollar award.

The Best American Series

This award was first started in 1986 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, has grown from a short story award to also accept sports writing, travel writing, essays, and nature writing. Collections are published annually and bring together the best North American short works of literature. Authors can receive an important publication credit and vital public recognition. You can submit your work directly, or you can be nominated by one of their editors. This is just a small sampling of the book awards available to authors. Depending on your specific needs as an author, you will find a wide variety of awards catering to specific genres and subgenres, such as science fiction, mystery, nonfiction and more.

Awards for Self-Publishing Authors

Some awards are geared specifically to self-published works. This is a growing category as self-publishing and small publishers grow to occupy an ever larger portion of the publishing market. Awards can represent a valuable marketing opportunity for self-published authors in particular. When looking to enter your work in these competitions, however, it is best to do some research first. Investigate who is sponsoring the award program, and who the judges are. If an award isn’t transparent about their judging panel, it may be not be worth entering. While it is normal to charge an entry fee, beware of awards that may focus more heavily on making money than giving back to winning authors. Award programs worth looking into include:

Are Book Awards Right for You?

Book awards are a great way for authors, especially self-publishing authors, to get a valuable marketing opportunity and important publicity for their books. A wide array of book awards cater to different niches, genres, and levels of prestige. If winning a book award is a goal for your work, the best thing you can do is to research which opportunities are best suited to your work, and find out exactly how to qualify. Find as many awards as you can that apply to your work, and don’t be afraid to apply for as many as you can. For quality writing, your persistence could likely be rewarded in due time.

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