Book award scam warning signs you shouldn’t ignore

book award scam warning signs
May 21, 2023
Hannah Jacobson

What are some book award scam warning signs you shouldn’t ignore? If you read some online blog posts or author communities, you might think every award is a scam, period. But at Book Award Pro, we make it our job to carefully evaluate every single award for legitimacy before sharing it with any author.

That means that any author, even on our free plan, doesn't have to be paranoid. If you're seeing it on Book Award Pro, it's legit.

But what if you're doing your own research? Read on to learn what a book award scam is and some common book award scam warning signs you shouldn’t ignore.

What is a book award scam?

Scams are fraudulent acts that steal money from people. It's an actual crime, but that doesn't stop scammers from doing it.

Scammers are people who engage in these acts to extort information, money, or items from another person. A scam is typically when you pay an organization money and never hear from them again. It can also be when they promise a prize or reward, but that reward doesn't exist and never did.

In the world of book awards, an actual scam is extremely rare. Of the thousands of book awards we've vetted, we've come across just two scams. But that's not quite the full picture.

If an award follows through with its promises, it gave you what was advertised. It wasn't a scam, but that doesn't mean authors can't feel disappointed. Some authors have high expectations of winning.

Other times, the benefits of an award turn out to be not as good as they seemed on paper. Book awards don't guarantee winners, and that's a good thing. Book awards aren't valuable if they're not a little competitive.

At Book Award Pro, we focus on positive opportunities for authors. We think about marketing the entire book award journey, of which winning or losing is just one part. Don’t be afraid of awards; embrace them. They offer you a fresh way to get your book noticed. Every step of the award process fuels your marketing, helping you sell more books.

Find legitimate awards curated for your book.

We have plans for every author at every stage.

Book award scam warning signs you shouldn't ignore

book award scam warning signs you shouldn't ignore

It's no secret that we're a fan of book awards. They can bring tremendous notability and story marketing opportunities to authors. But sharpening your eye for red flags isn’t a bad idea. If you're working independently with a book award organizer, here are some book award scam warning signs you shouldn’t ignore:

A bare bones website

Peek around an award organizer’s website. Is there a contact page or an area with recent content posted? Can you find information about past award winners? What about the history of the award itself?

If a website is missing some of these things, they might just not be great web designers. But if it's missing all of these things and has just a few pages, be careful.

No real submission requirements

A legitimate award should be willing to turn down money if a book doesn't meet its requirements. Most book awards have submission deadlines and basic criteria about genres, word counts, etc. If an award seems willing to take your money at any time with no questions asked, take a closer look at it.

Becomes unresponsive

book award scam warning signs you shouldn't ignore

Did you submit and never get a confirmation?

Have you emailed the award, and it’s been weeks without a response?

Did their social media posts go silent, and they haven’t replied to the message you sent them?

When awards become unresponsive, don’t return emails, and won’t answer anything for weeks, this is a warning sign.

We believe customer support should happen within a day or two, but some organizations take longer, and that can be okay sometimes. If it has been over four weeks and you have not received a response, it's more than unprofessional: it's a red flag.

No results announcement in sight

There’s a lot that goes into an award announcement. Don’t be surprised if an award reaches out and lets you know it will take them longer than expected to announce results.

However, if it’s well past the announcement date and there’s still no announcement or notice, it’s time to consider this as a warning sign.

Remember that while these are warning signs and red flags, it doesn’t automatically mean something is wrong. If you notice these red flags with an award you submitted to, there are steps you can take to get things on the right track or recover your investment.

Permanently removes its website

book award scam warning signs

Uh oh. If a website is completely and totally gone, and you're sure you're at the right place and it's not a temporary outage, it's time to worry. Most site outages are minutes or hours long at most. Website owners may want to erase all traces of themselves, but this would be a pretty extreme case. You can sometimes use online tools like the Wayback Machine to find sites that have been taken down.

You were contacted out of the blue

Although very rare, there have been reports of authors receiving a phone call or email out of the blue. Without ever having submitted their work, they receive award-winning news...or they're congratulated for the opportunity to submit.

This is exceedingly rare. In fact, so rare that you shouldn't be on the lookout for these occasions. Simply know that being contacted out of nowhere is often a red flag, and report the situation to Book Award Pro when it happens.

Very few awards take an old school marketing approach of adding you to their mailing list without permission, and issuing a "call for submissions".

While publishing houses and publicists are familiar with these emails, this strategy is long outdated and unprofessional these days. An email out of the blue doesn't necessarily indicate a scam, but it could indicate out of date practices.

If something just doesn't add up...

If you don't have a good feeling about an award, you never have to submit to it. The truth is there are so many other awards to pursue!

Most importantly, you can find awards that align with your author goals and provide value for your submission. Check out this article to learn how you can spot valuable awards, or start your Book Award Pro service now to see what awards are out there for your book. Our service automatically excludes scam awards and prioritizes those with the most value for your book.

What to do if you suspect a book award scam

First and foremost, directly message the award and ask them for a status update. Try emailing, messaging them on social media, or writing a letter, depending on how you submit your book.

It could be an honest mistake. If that’s the case, the award will be receptive and responsive to assist you. If it’s been a long time, and you’ve sent multiple messages to the award without hearing anything back, it’s time to consider the possibility of a scam.

If you have evidence of book award scams, the best thing you can do is share it with others. Don't undervalue the power you have as a consumer. One option is to tell us about it. Book Award Pro tracks these kinds of issues, and we will be able to escalate awareness of this within the industry.

Keep records of your contact attempts. This documentation will enable you to file a chargeback request with your credit card company to reclaim your funds from the award.

I'm scared of scams. Should I avoid book awards?

Absolutely not. Most awards are valuable and worth pursuing. Don't let the idea of awards-boogeymen scare you away from opportunities.

If you’re a Book Award Pro author and we submit your book for you, our expert team is already taking care of you. We diligently track, monitor, and contact award organizations to ensure you only engage with organizations that are real and provide a service. Not a Book Award Pro author or we’re not handling your submissions? Consider signing up for free or upgrading to our Pro plan.

Our work serves our authors, and awards are increasingly improving their standards and professionalism. We’re proud to keep authors safe from book award scams and use their opportunities to the fullest.

Start your award-winning journey with Book Award Pro.

We have plans for every author at every stage.

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