Which book awards are legitimate?
Book Award Pro
When it comes to what book awards are legitimate, it's not as easy as providing a list. There are thousands of book awards, and more being created every year. If you use Book Award Pro, every award you are matched with will be vetted by our software, so you'll never have to worry about fraudulent awards (which are very rare). But outside of awards that are simply scams, how do you judge which book awards are legitimate? Here's some of our key indicators of a valuable award.
First, let's define legitimate.
Legitimacy and value are often subjective, so we should start by getting our definitions strait. As we said before, fraud is rare. Far more common are authors who feel let down by the awards process, that it was a waste of their time or entry fee. It's important to have realistic expectations here. Book awards can do a lot, but it's not some win button that launches you to fame and fortune overnight.
If you're looking for some key "green flags" for a legitimate award, here's a few good ones:
Reasonable entry fees of about $100 USD.
Of all awards we track, 85.3% charge an entry fee, with the industry average at $89 USD. Organizing book awards is like any other business: it has costs. Companies that run awards contests need to pay for a website, prizes, and judges if they're not volunteers.
They cover these costs with entry fees. Just because an award doesn't give a cash prize, shouldn't make it suspcious.
If you find an entry fee significantly higher, do your research. We've found a few book awards with entry fees above a few hundred dollars, but they are rare. Bottom line is, if an award is too much of a financial strain to enter, don't do it. There are thousands of other options.
Either way, you should be marketing your book awards journey, even if the award organization isn't. But a good book award should be leveraging their following to help you reach new audiences. Here's a couple things to look for:
Great for repurposing and sharing clips yourself. Video is a thousand times better than audio only. An hour long podcasts can be broken up into blog posts and short videos to stretch your marketing mileage.
Social media posts
These are good, but you want to research their social media and it's actual engagement with real people. You can use some online tools, or you can just pull up a social media page and browse how many likes, comments, and shares a typical post is getting.
Guest blog post
Popping up on the first page of Google as an award winning author could be game changing. You can always use sites that give you a general idea of a website's traffic. Most sites won't be getting tens of thousands of visitors, but several hundred a month is a good sign.
Don't be too carried away with the idea of getting on a newsletter with 50,000 subscribers. The truth is, it's impossible to know if the newsletter is being open, read, and clicked by actual readers. This is a nice to have, but it doesn't give you story marketing content that you can use on your own channels.
Benefits for simply entering
It's always a plus to know that your entry fee got you something regardless of winning. At Book Award Pro, we call these "bonus benefits" and we encourage them when we talk with award organizations. Some fantastic benefits to look for are editorial reviews, feedback from judges, and discounts on partner services. Editorial reviews alone can cost hundreds of dollars, meaning you're getting a deep discount for an entry fee price.
Awards that build community
Just as you can tap into an award organizer's following, you could also network with other authors. There are awards that connect their authors with each other and build community from within, helping authors amplify their voices and build collaborations together.
Use these opportunities to connect with other authors, share your award news together, and grow your audiences. Awards that come with private groups on Facebook or other platforms can be very valuable if you're willing to get in there and make some friends.
Prizes that up your writing game
We can all be better writers, and sometimes simply getting some expert advice can change our entire approach to the craft.
Many book award prizes give you access to professional reviews, editors, or even literary agents. These are extremely valuable. The hardest thing for a writer to get is objective feedback.
Of course your best friend loved your book. But maybe an agent will point out that commercial books usually have less than 100,000 words, and you should break your giant book into two books. It's hard to put a price on that kind of advice.
Let's end with this
So which book awards are legitimate? Factor in the various ways an award may provide value . It doesn't have to check all the boxes above, just the ones that matter to you.
At the end of the day, every award is valuable and each author has different goals. If you want to get a feel for what kind of awards you can be matched with, you can create a free book award account and get matches in minutes.