It is no secret that there are many debates that occur over the title of “Best Selling” vs. “Award Winning” when it comes to the effectiveness of promoting a new book. Debate aside, the purpose of this article is to highlight the benefits of entering book contests and how they can help the effectiveness of marketing a new book.

While winning is nice, the importance of entering a book award contest goes far beyond just a win. By even entering your book in a contest you are putting your materials out there, gaining additional exposure in the overall judging process. On the other hand, should your materials be one of the lucky ones selected for an award, these can be great marketing tools to open doors that an author might not be able to otherwise including. Awards sticker or seals which can be added to the covers of a book that’s legitimately won an award can be a wonderful tool to get book stores to carry a book. The press release announcing winners of local, national or international book awards also trigger Google Alerts and therefore positively increasing exposure. The announcement of winning book award prior to publication has the added advantage of alerting avid reads to upcoming releases.

Conversely, there are some things to consider before going out and entering book contests. Do your research; make sure that the contest is well established and legit. Read the rules, and if at all possible, research the judges that will be reviewing the books. Try to avoid contests that have high entry fees or contests that appear to be non-discriminating in their entries and keep an eye out for contests that offer awards in all entries. Watch out for contests that award just to have an award. National and International Contests such as the Indie Book Awards, Writers Digest Book Awards, USA Best Book Awards Reader’s Favorites, International Best Book Award (sponsored by USA Book News) are just a few of respectable contests that I have research which meet these particular criteria. There are also many legitimate regional and local book contests to consider for books pertaining to specific geographic regions.

Some other things an author should consider, while not always possible, is the timing of the contest with the release of the book as well as choosing the right award for the right book. For example I chose to enter my newest book, Unpredictable Webs in the Beverly Hills Book Award knowing it was run by the same organization as the Indie Book Awards for Excellence and the announcement of its winners correlated with the official release of my novel on May 1st. I also chose this particular contest because Beverly Hills, being associated with fashion matched the background of the book.

A word of caution though! While entering contests can be fun, authors still shouldn’t go for too many contests or categories at one time. Too many stickers can make a book cover look messy. That may sound strange but after experiencing 2 wins and one finalist award for Twisted Webs, I found that too much of a good thing can be a negative. Rather than display the winners seal for the National Indie Book Award and the International Best Book Awards for fiction, my publisher created one seal announcing both awards. Focus entries to categories and contests that will benefit your work as a whole. Then have a plan of action in place to coordinate your marketing strategies. Should you win, be ready to update websites, all social media sites, with the book cover displaying your award and any promotional verbiage to reflect the new honors.

Book award contests can be very beneficial when entered wisely. And, it’s even nicer when we win!

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