Won a book award? 12 ways to share the news

gold trophyThriller writer Dina Santorelli knew the Writer’s Digest Self-Published eBook Awards competition was reputable when she entered.

There was a fee, unlike the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition that she also entered, but she hoped it would be worth it.

It was.

Santorelli’s debut novel, BABY GRAND, was named an honorable mention book in the genre fiction category. She went on to be selected as one of Long Island’s best authors (second place behind best-selling author Nelson DeMille) as well as the best author in Nassau County.

To help authors like Santorelli figure out which contests are legitimate and which ones are scams, our friends at BiblioCrunch researched the options and published their list of the 38 best competitions for indie and self-published books earlier this year. (Note that most have 2013 deadlines; you can expect the deadlines for 2014 to be around the same time.)

Are there any on that list that you could win?

Winning is good, but it’s not enough

It’s not enough to win an award, though. You have to make sure the book-buying world knows that your book is an award-winner because, let’s be honest, an award lends a certain cache and credibility to your book.

How can you make the most of the awards your book will receive? Here are some ideas; please add your own in the coments, too.

  1. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Ask what the contest organizer is doing to support and promote the winners. Most will send an announcement press release and feature a list of winners on the competition website.
  2. Send a press release. Using the organizer’s press release as a starting point, send your own press release to your local media outlets, alumni publications, industry trade press if relevant, and so on. Change the headline and first paragraph to focus on your connection to the media outlet (Local author wins national book award/BU alum wins national book award/Industry expert wins national book award). Include a short description of your book, too. Then copy and paste the award description and list of winners into your document.
  3. Order award stickers. Most award organizers sell rolls of stickers to add to winning book covers. When it’s time to reprint, ask your cover designer to add the award seal to your book cover so you can showcase it without stickers.
  4. Send an e-mail announcement. To everybody in your address book. Seriously. YOUR BOOK WON AN AWARD! Everyone you know wants to know this and share your excitement. (But don’t use all caps like I just did, and don’t use multiple exclamation marks!!!!!) Make sure you explain briefly what the book is about and include a link to a purchase page.
  5. Announce it to your social media networks. Your connections will be happy for you.
  6. Share what you learned. Guest blog for other authors on what you learned about how to win awards. Give advice; offer tips that will help others.
  7. Include it in your social media profile. Santorelli’s LinkedIn profile, for example, lists all three of her awards. They’re referenced in different ways in her Twitter and Facebook profiles.
  8. Use it to get reviews. When Brette Sember’s Gay and Lesbian Rights was named a Ben Franklin Award finalist, she noted that in the information she sent when soliciting reviews.
  9. Ask the judges for comments. Then use them in your marketing materials. Even a short phrase indicating why your book is a winner will go a long way on your book cover, website, online sales pages, and press materials.
  10. Include it in your author bio. You are now “an award-winning author.” Say so.
  11. Announce it on your website. This good news belongs on your home page.
  12. Celebrate! Treat your most ardent supporters to a party or celebration. Let those who believe in you share your joy.

 What did you do to get the most from a book award? Please share your tips here!


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Sandra Beckwith is an award-winning former publicist who now teaches authors how to market their books. Three groups have recognized her BuildBookBuzz.com site as an outstanding resource for authors, so you know her advice is author-tested.

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12 Responses to Won a book award? 12 ways to share the news
  1. Donna Winters
    December 7, 2013 | 1:27 pm

    Wish I’d seen this list earlier this year when my hometown Village Mayor and Board of Trustees issued a proclamation urging all village residents to read one of my books in the month of April. It was historical fiction set in my hometown of Brockport, NY, an Erie Canal town, and the proclamation was preparatory to the Canal Fest coming up on the first week of May. I did issue press releases and sent out some messages, but the honor was so local, the opportunities seemed limited. Nevertheless, I have displayed the original proclamation on my office wall to remind me that after 29 years of writing and finally getting around to featuring my hometown’s history in a novel, there is recognition of my cultural legacy to Brockport.

    • Sandra Beckwith
      December 7, 2013 | 2:36 pm

      Greetings from Fairport, another lovely little Erie Canal town, Donna. That’s wonderful! You might know that most authors get only hometown press, and most don’t get a community proclamation.

      Are you doing anything to promote it in the Rochester area as a holiday gift? The D&C always does an “under $20” gift guide, and your book might be considered because of the Brockport connection and previous exposure.

      Sandy

      • Donna Winters
        December 7, 2013 | 3:39 pm

        Fairport is one of the most beautiful Victorian villages situated on the canal. Way more upscale than Brockport. We have a friend living there in a retirement home and visited her a while back. We really enjoyed the opportunity to walk the canal area of Fairport.

        The stars lined up for the proclamation regarding my book. This is not something I could have done for myself. The owner of the Liftbridge Book Shop, a former band mate of mine from H.S., was on the planning committee for the Canal Fest and was supported by the village board when he suggested the proclamation. It helped that one of the trustees had been a consultant on my novel and liked it.

        At the time of the Canal Fest, the bookstore placed ads in the D&C and local shopper guide. I’ll have to check into the “under $20” gift guide. Thanks for the suggestion.

        • Sandra Beckwith
          December 8, 2013 | 3:08 pm

          Just a note, Donna, that I’m not talking about advertising in the D&C — I’m talking about publicity. This blog post might shed a little light on it: http://buildbookbuzz.com/6-ways-to-promote-your-book-as-a-holiday-gift/ .

          Sandy

          • Donna Winters
            December 8, 2013 | 7:27 pm

            Thanks, Sandra. I wasn’t thinking about advertising. After reading the link you suggested, I immediately thought of writing an article about how canal families spent Christmas.

  2. Andy Rose
    December 7, 2013 | 1:33 pm

    Thank you for these suggestions. I won Honorable Mention in the Great Midwest Book Festival and have just paid CreateSpace to add a statement to my book cover.

    LILY’S PAYBACK is my debut novel with four schoolteachers, not James Bond, in a romantic thriller!

    • Sandra Beckwith
      December 7, 2013 | 2:39 pm

      Congratulations, Andy! That’s impressive. I’m sure you were thrilled (I sure would be).

      I love your book’s description. Not to take this off topic, but have you tried to get publicity with the education trade journals?

      Sandy

    • Dina Santorelli
      December 15, 2013 | 12:13 am

      Congratulations, Andy! Very exciting!

  3. Bette A. Stevens
    December 12, 2013 | 12:14 am

    Thanks, Sandra. GREAT information!

    • Sandra Beckwith
      December 12, 2013 | 1:14 am

      Thank you, Bette! Please feel free to share the link so we can help more authors.

      Sandy

  4. Joseph Richardson
    January 28, 2015 | 2:45 pm

    My first novel, FIRE ANGELS, received honorable Mention in the 2014 Writer’s Digest self-published e-book competition. The judge’s comments were great and the book received 5s in all categories. FIRE ANGELS is a southern (FL) novel that follows a young family 1915-1925.

    • Sandra Beckwith
      January 28, 2015 | 3:14 pm

      Congratulations, Joseph! That’s wonderful!

      Sandy

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