Friday, 25 May 2018

#FridayFacts - Should I enter any indie book awards?

It would be great if indie authors could enter the Costa Book Awards and the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction. But we can't. 

Pict author Sarah Marie Graye looks at whether or not the book awards open to indie novelists are worth the effort.

By Sarah Marie Graye

This week I found out I was a finalist in the 12th Annual National Indie Excellence Awards. It's the fifth time my debut novel has made the longlist in an indie award.

🏆 So do awards increase your book's profile?
The short answer is: it depends.

There are a lot of indie book awards out there. Many are very expensive to enter and most offer little more than the opportunity to say you've won.

But some have cut through the noise and established themselves as worthwhile accolades to have sitting next to your book cover on your website and in your social media promotions.

The Indie Excellence Awards is (or maybe was) one such award. Its success has seen its entry fee hiked to $75 for it's 13th Annual award – a figure I'd find it difficult to justify spending on an award entry.

This high fee has earned them a "caution" rating on ALLi's Self-Publishing Advice website.

As a member of ALLi (The Alliance of Independent Authors) I've found their sister website a great source of information, and their page on book awards is no different.

I've managed to avoid one award with a low entry fee that looked like a good opportunity to raise my book's profile but which stated winners surrendered first publication rights – something that was hidden in the small print on the award website!

🏆 Which awards are right for your book? 
There are two main types of indie book awards: voter-based or judging panel-based.

If you're an indie author who writes commercial fiction with a number of books under your belt and a fan club to match, then the "reader vote" awards should appeal. You can easily do well by sharing the voting link with your fans.

But as someone attempting to raise the profile of a debut novel about suicide (and that errs on the side of literary fiction), I plumped for awards overseen by a panel of judges.

🏆 What happens if I win?
With an indie book award, it's unlikely you will get more than an award seal to use on your book cover and promotional materials. Some offer marketing packages to the winners/finalist, but very few offer cash prizes.

So the name of the award and how it's viewed by book bloggers and readers is really important. Being longlisted for a respected indie award can be worth a lot more from a marketing perspective than winning one nobody has ever heard of.

🏆 Spend - yes or no?
According to the Rubery Book Awards (on ALLi's recommended list), WHSmiths requests £25,000 for a book that is selected by the new Richard and Judy book club.

When I first heard this I was surprised for a split-second... and then not surprised at all. Because no marketing is free. The idea that only indie authors pay is one of those urban myths it's difficult to dispel.

🏆 Editorial reviews and awards
Editorial reviews are the one type of review that it is acceptable to pay for. One of the most respected is Kirkus Reviews, but at $425 for a 250-word review, it's out of the price range of many indie authors.

More awards are now cropping up where a 5-star editorial review meant automatic entry into the website's book awards. With these awards, you have a editorial review for your fee, so any placing in the awards is simply an added bonus.

I entered the Book Viral awards via their editorial review option. My editorial review with them earned 5 stars, so my book was automatically entered into their awards. (The fee for a review was significantly lower than direct entry into the awards.)

My book was longlisted for their 2017 Millennium Book Award, which comes with 12 months of promotional support on social media – something I'm still benefitting from.

🏆 The feel good factor
I'm a typical writer in that I constantly question whether or not my work is good enough. So when a panel of complete strangers give my book the thumbs up, yes, it matters.

Please note: Editorial reviews are not posted on review sites such as Goodreads. Amazon has a specific section where quotes from such reviews can be included which is separate from the reader review section.

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