Your book is out! It's in bookstores and on retail websites. But how do you attract readers? How do you make sure your book receives the accolades it deserves?
Submit your book for honors and awards.
Awards come in all shapes and sizes. We'd all love to win a National Book Award or Newbery Medal, but many more opportunities abound.
Small awards may have requirements that narrow the field, giving your book a better chance to win.
Big or small, an award creates buzz about your book, encouraging readers to pick it up.
Many publishers will submit your book for appropriate awards. However, they may not have the resources to find all the awards that suit your book. Provide your publisher with suggestions of award contests. If your publisher doesn't submit your book, or if your book is self-published, you may be able to do it yourself. Many award committees accept book submissions from the author and if applicable, the illustrator.
No matter who submits your book, you'll need to dig to find suitable awards. To avoid missing submission deadlines, do this research several months before your book's publication date.
Many blogs and websites include award information. None of these sites is definitive. None covers every award. Few are totally up-to-date at all times. So check many sites and cross-check the information.
Begin your online search with general keywords, such as "book awards" or "children's book awards." If your book is for children, search for adult awards too - many adult book awards contain children's categories.
Many awards exist for specific characteristics of the book, author/illustrator, or publisher. Use keywords that call out these characteristics.
Don't forget to mix and match key words and see what you find. Keywords: book awards new writer science fiction, book awards poetry children.
Another way to find book awards is to peruse books and magazines related to writing, art, and publishing. Many list book awards.
Finally, read the news sections of professional and alumni journals, such as The Author's Guild Bulletin. These sections announce award winners along with the names of the awards. If you see an applicable award, research it online.
Send a list of suitable awards along with the submission information to your publisher. If your publisher doesn't submit your book for an award, you may be able to do it yourself.
A word about fees. Some award organizations charge a fee for submitting a book. This fee may range from $5 to over $100. You and/or your publisher will need to decide if the cost is worth it. There are several considerations when making this decision.
When your book actually wins an award, first bask in the glow and the buzz. If it's a big award, you'll get plenty of publicity and media attention. If it's a smaller award, you'll need to do more work. Most awards organizations provide some publicity. They announce their award-winning books to the media, on their website, in e-announcements, and so on. Add to this by sending out your own media releases, e-announcements, social networking, blog announcements, and so on. Notify your loyal bookstores and online retailers. They may have a special section in their store and/or website that will call out award-winning books.
Finally, make sure your publisher buys the medallions from the award organization and sticks them on your books. And be sure to put "award-winning" in front of your name.
Researching awards takes time and energy, but it's well worth the effort. Imagine the wonderful feeling when the buzz for your book gets louder.
A shiny medallion on the cover to attract readers doesn't hurt either!
Editor's Note: Writing to Win: The Colossal Guide to Writing Contests provides information on over 200 awards for published and unpublished books, as well as a section on children's literature awards and awards for published and unpublished romance novels. Available in Print and Kindle editions.