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Independent book publishing has, over the past two decades, become competitive. Many of the titles being released by the most notable independent presses are exhibiting levels of sophistication on a par with the most celebrated national writers.
To honor that work, several independent and self-publishing contests have emerged. The very best of those use the contest as a platform to advocate for the highest standards of writing, book design, and industry ethics. These organizations select accomplished publishers, editors, writers and artists to judge and reward the most inspired works.
Most contests charge entry fees, and being named a finalist or winner doesn’t necessarily bolster book sales. But it can increase your visibility—and credibility—as a writer or artist, demonstrating that you and your publisher are capable of excellence, and that your book is worthy of another’s time. Winning can also infuse a writer’s confidence, and who doesn’t need that?
*Authors may submit their books for various awards. Some are broad-based and national in scope, and others are regional or specific to the genre or area of interest that the book covers, such as the Civil War, or women’s rights. Authors are encouraged to find awards that are uniquely suited to their books.
*The author is responsible for applying to all awards. All expenses for books and other associated costs must be covered by the author unless otherwise agreed to by Köehler Books. Köehler Books will respond if requested by the awards committee or program.
Following is a short list of awards to consider:
- Dragonfly Book Awards
- They accept traditionally published, partnership published and self-published books for any of their contests provided that the books are available for purchase and are printed in English. It does not matter what year or in which country a book is published to be eligible. The Purple Dragonfly Award is for children’s books, and the Royal Dragonfly Award is for all genres.
- Submissions: by October 1, 2020 (Royal Dragonfly); by May 4, 2021 (Purple Dragonfly)
- National Indie Excellence Awards
- NIEA is open to all English language printed books available for sale, including small presses, mid-size independent publishers, university presses, and self-published authors.
- Submissions: August 1, 2020 – March 31, 2021
- Next Generation Indie Book Awards
- The Next Generation Indie Book Awards was established to recognize and honor the most exceptional independently published books in over seventy categories. It is presented by Independent Book Publishing Professionals Group in cooperation with Marilyn Allen of Allen O’Shea Literary Agency.
- Submissions: by February 12, 2021
- Nautilus Book Awards
- The Nautilus Book Awards recognizes self-published works and books from small presses that support conscious living and sustainability, high-level wellness, spiritual growth, and positive social change. It offers awards in thirty-eight categories.
- Submissions: September 21, 2020 – February 7, 2021
- Eric Hoffer Book Award
- The Eric Hoffer Award honors the memory of the great American philosopher Eric Hoffer by highlighting salient writing, as well as the independent spirit of small publishers. Since its inception, the Hoffer has become one of the largest international book awards for small, academic, and independent presses.
- Submissions: The Eric Hoffer Award uses a two-year sliding window for regular category entry. Since our registration desk remains open all year long, January 21 is the official registration cutoff date for all books either published or copyrighted in the prior two years. Books published before this two-year window may enter either the Legacy Fiction category or Legacy Nonfiction category.
- Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Awards sponsored by Foreword magazine
- The Foreword INDIES are awarded to independent publishers, university presses, and self-published authors. The contest is judged by nearly 150 booksellers and librarians who determine winners after a group of finalists is culled by Foreword’s editorial staff.
- Submissions: by January 31, 2021
- Chanticleer Writing Contest
- Chanticleer Book Reviews runs an annual contest that offers fourteen genre-specific book awards and a grand prize. Entries may be manuscripts or books that have been self-published, Indie published, or traditionally published.
- Submissions: vary by category
- American Book Fest
- Benjamin Franklin Book Awards
- The IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards™ are administered by the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) with help from over 150 book publishing professionals including librarians, bookstore owners, reviewers, designers, publicity managers, and editors. The awards program accepts books published using all business models: traditional, self, hybrid, etc.
- Submissions: by September 30, 2020 (for titles published Jan – Aug 2020); by December 15, 2020 (for titles published Sep – Dec 2020)
- Independent Publishers Book Awards (aka IPPY Awards)
- These awards are intended to bring increased recognition to the thousands of exemplary independent, university, and self-published titles published each year. They also offer a separate award for business books called the Axiom Awards (submissions: ).