Any author would be pleased to receive an award for their book(s) and no doubt eye with some degree of envy those who are fortunate enough to be recipients of one or more. But how does the award system operate? To answer the question author Lucinda E Clarke, who has received multiple awards for several of her books, has kindly agreed to share her experience in this Guest Post which follows the question-answer format.
Did you personally apply to the award committees or did readers put your books forward?
In some cases, in the early days, my books were put forward without my knowledge, chosen by other authors who held their own awards and also for Read Freely (Read Free.ly).
Was a fee payable? If so, what was the average fee?
For awards that I have entered, in almost every case there was a fee – the average price is about $75. A couple are free, but I don’t have a problem with awards charging for entry. It takes time, effort and staff to organize the judges, collate entries, administer the processes and create medals, certificates, postage and publicity. I personally don’t pay more as I do not have a huge book marketing budget. Most of the awards accept Paypal. The annual Amazon Storyteller is free, but the timeframe for publication is only 4 months for a previously unpublished work.
How did books have to be submitted: Digitally or in physical format by post?
This varies. For the IPPY Awards (Independent Publishers Book Awards) you need to send a physical book. If there is a separate eBook category, I choose that one, as it is cheaper. Most of the others will accept electronic submissions. If you win and attend the Readers’ Favorite Awards in Miami, they ask you to bring 3 copies of your paperback – one for display at the hotel, the other two for the RF stand at the Miami Book Fair. Later, they are donated to charity.
What information did the award organisation require?
Apart from the obvious such as name, title and contact details they require a brief blurb, similar to that you might upload to your product page on Amazon. You usually have to choose the best genre for your book and, of course, a copy of the book.
Where there any restrictive conditions e.g. Minimum number of reviews; Not previously published; Only self-published (e.g. not through traditional or vanity press); etc?
There is usually a time frame for publication date. Thus, it’s unlikely I will ever win any more awards for my first memoir published in 2013 (there are a very few exceptions). Most will not accept the same books a second time. I’ve never been asked to list numbers of reviews – I guess they could check, but I suspect they are given to the judges who make decisions based on their opinions of the entries. A few are for self-publishers and small presses only, but I’ve never seen any exemptions for vanity books. Basically, it’s up to each author to submit their book. The huge, prestigious prizes such as the Booker, are only open to recognised publishers, but I was told by one, that the entry fee is in the thousands!
Did you hear from the organisation if they decided not to make an award?
I have had emails from some of the companies if I have won an award, but it is usually up to the entrant to check online to see if they have won. All the awards publish the date the winners are announced. If a book is not successful then you don’t hear at all. I have been told that most of these contests have in excess of 10,000 entries annually so they are unlikely to send out that many emails.
Were you given advance notice of an award?
I do get emails from the Awards I’ve won in the past asking if I would like to enter again this year. There is usually a lower price for Early Bird entry. Before that, I honestly can’t remember where I heard about them but probably from reading blogs and posts from other authors on Facebook.
Did you always have to attend an awards ceremony to receive the award?
Only two of the Awards I’ve entered have ceremonies – Readers Favorite and the IPPY Awards. I’ve attended the RF Awards in Miami twice, but I can’t afford to go this year. I’ve never been successful in the IPPY awards. For all the others, they send you a virtual certificate via email you can print out yourself, and a medal through the post – but you do have to pay the postage and also for the foil stickers. I don’t order these now as I can grab them for free via email and then put them straight on the book covers myself.
Would you recommend authors with few readers/fans apply?
I don’t think it matters how many readers or fans you have. The more readers who see your book the better. And yes, I would recommend it for the reasons below.
In your experience, do awards gain increased readership and sales?
I think so, but then most of us Indies are flying blind – do we know where our sales come from? Was it that Tweet, the post from an enthusiastic reader on Facebook, the book cover on a Pinterest board? The payback for me is the knowledge that some faceless judge who is neither friend nor family has judged my book and found it worth reading. I do not enter competitions where I ask people to vote for me. With a lot of fans, you can win, but it would not reassure me that my book was good, bad or indifferent.
If sales tank, then it is really cheering to remind yourself that some people, somewhere out there, liked your book and gave it lots of votes!
I have been very lucky with the number of awards I’ve won, but, as I expected, my minor successes have not taken me into the stratosphere. However, if you want an honest appraisal of your book, then this is a good yardstick. You sometimes get feedback and it’s a lot cheaper than paying for a Kirkus review and you can plaster the medal on your book cover to ensure prospective readers will see it. It gives you personal and public credibility and if some sites criticise the awards as money-making schemes, the average reader is not aware of this and will hopefully be impressed. One thing is certain. You can’t buy an award since the judges are anonymous.
On those bad days when I know I can’t string two words together I secretly admit to taking a peep at the medals and certificates to cheer me up.
Thank you Lucinda for your willingness to take time from your busy life to help fellow authors comprehend this interesting topic.
Lucinda receiving a Readers Favorite award in Miami.
Photographs by courtesy of Lucinda E Clarke
As mentioned, Lucinda has received several awards for a selection of her books. As of 17 September 2019 these are:
WALKING OVER EGGSHELLS
5 star Readers’ Favorite
2016 Readers’ Favorite silver medal in Inspirational
2017 IAN Awards Finalist in First Non fiction
2017 Literary Titan Book Gold Award
AMIE AFRICAN ADVENTURE
5 star Readers’ Favorite
2017 IAN Awards Finalist in Literary Fiction 2017 Book Excellence Awards Finalist in Adventure
2017 Literary Titan Book Awards Gold Award December
2016 Pinnacle Book Awards Winner in Adventure
2016 Global Ebook Awards Bronze in Popular Literature
2016 Readers’ Favorite Awards Honorable Mention in Fiction Action
2015 #17 in Read Freely 50 Best books of 2015
AMIE AND THE CHILD OF AFRICA
2018 Wishing Shelf Red Ribbon Award
2018 Global eBook Silver medal
2018 Readers’ Favorite Gold medal (Adventure)
AMIE STOLEN FUTURE
5 star Readers’ Favorite
2017 New Apple Book Awards: Action / Adventure Solo Medalist
2017 #45 in Read Freely 50 Best books of 2015
2018 Gold medal eLit Book Awards (popular fiction)
2019 Kindle Book Awards semi finalist
2018 Readers’ Favorite Silver medal (thriller/terrorist)
AMIE CUT FOR LIFE
2019 Silver medal eLit Book Awards
2019 Gold medal Readers’ Favorite Awards
UNHAPPILY EVER AFTER
5 star Readers’ Favorite
2017 New Apple Book Awards: Humor Solo Medalist
All books available from Lucinda’s Amazon Author Page.