Won a book award? 12 ways to share the news

Kid lit author Cat Michaels knows that when one of her books wins an award, she needs to make the most of it.

Michaels, who has won four book awards in the past few years, makes sure her audience hears the good news, too.

For example, when her Sweet T and the Turtle Team was named the best environment category book for children by the Literary Classics Book Awards, Michaels documented her experiences at the organization’s pre-pandemic conference and awards event through photos.

She didn’t just text time images to her family and writer friends, though. Michaels used the images to create social media posts, an article on her blog, and even a video.

Tell people you won a book award

Michaels knows that it’s on her to make sure the book-buying world knows that her books are award-winners. It’s worth the time it takes, too, because an award lends a certain amount of prestige and cache to your book.

How can you follow Michaels’ lead and make the most of the awards your book will receive? Here are 12 ideas.

1. Ask what the contest organizer is doing to promote winners.

There’s no point in duplicating efforts. Many will distribute an announcement press release and feature a list of winners on the competition website, but what else happens – anything? Do they send a personalized press release to your local newspaper?

If they do, you don’t have to. If they don’t, see number 2 below.

2. Send a press release.

Using the organizer’s press release as a starting point, send your own press release to:

  • Your local daily and weekly newspapers
  • Alumni publications
  • Industry trade magazines (if that’s appropriate)
  • Association newsletters for groups you belong to

Change the organizer’s headline and first paragraph to focus on your connection to the media outlet (“Local author wins national book award,” “LSU alum wins national book award,” “Industry expert wins national book award”).

3. Update your cover.

For e-books and print on demand, incorporate the award seal into your cover design immediately. If you have printed books in inventory and the organizer sells award stickers, buy a roll.

4. Send an email announcement.

People who know you will want to share your excitement.

Michaels shared the news with her email newsletter subscribers. In addition to announcing your award and its significance, make sure you explain briefly what the book is about and include a link to a purchase page.

5. Share the news on social media.

Your connections will be happy for you. Give them a chance to applaud your accomplishment.

6. Include it in your social media profile.

For example, when Michaels wins an award, she changes her Twitter and Facebook page headers to images that showcase the awards.

7. Use it to get reviews.

When sending out advance review copies for your newest book, mention any awards in your cover note. People are more likely to want to read and review your newest work when they know that previous books were recognized for their quality.

8. Ask the judges for feedback.

Then use it 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.

9. Include it in your author bio.

You are now “an award-winning author.” Say so in your bio for the book, your website, and social media profiles.

10. Update your book description.

Few things give book buyers confidence like the phrase “award-winning.” Work this into your book’s description everywhere – including your website, retail sales pages, and Goodreads. 

11. Announce it on your website.

This good news belongs on your home page and the page that’s dedicated to book information.

12. Incorporate it into marketing materials.

Michaels added award information to the bookmarks and tent cards she created for book signings.   

Watch out for the scammers

Here’s a word or two of caution about awards, though: Because many authors would like to claim “award-winner” status, you have to be careful that you don’t let scammers take advantage of you.

Some aggressively promoted competitions are nothing more than income generators for organizers. Before entering a contest and paying a fee, check the list of contests and competitions reviewed and rated by the Alliance of Independence Authors.

Which of the reputable competitions on that list could you win?

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

(Editor’s note: This article was first published in December 2013. It has been updated and expanded.)

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  1. 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.

    1. 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.


      1. 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.

          1. 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. 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!

    1. 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?


  3. 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.

  4. I won two awards in Readers Favorite International Book Awards 2018.
    The books are:
    Zeeka chronicles: Revenge of Zeeka in the category Young Adult ThHriller
    and I am Cancer Free in the category Health and Fitness.

    I had recently published a book, How to Write for Success and I formed a group – How to Write for Success Group to teach young and aspiring authors the way to achieve success in writing. My blog has a similar name.
    I will be attending the Awards Ceremony in Miami and hope to gain more knowledge to share with my group.

    1. What a great question, Michelle! I would promote them because readers don’t know anything about caution lists, etc. Most can’t tell you which awards might be the most prestigious, either. Be aware, though, that industry professionals know more than readers so caution-list awards will carry less weight with agents and traditional publishers.


    1. You’re an experienced award-winner, Dina, so I’m glad you work to get the word out. You have SO MUCH to be proud of!


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