by Sherrie Wilkolaski

We’re closing in on the end of the year and we should be thinking about how to better promote our books in the New Year.  Today I wanted to talk specifically about how to use book awards to help market and promote your book.

First, you’ve got to be in it, to win it…as the saying goes.  Enter your book into as many book awards as you can.  Look at what local book awards contests are available and submit your book to those programs. Then take it to the next level and submit your book to some national book awards programs.

Local awards and special niches.  Local and regional writers groups are great resources for local book award (and writing contest) opportunities.  Also, take advantage of your book genre and look for awards that are for your niche only.  Smaller awards competitions are just as important as national ones.

Be smart about your submissions. Many book awards programs offer a variety of categories for you to choose from and in some instances you can participate in more than one category for your genre.  Look at the categories and think about which ones are the best fit, and which you have the best chance of winning. Don’t just go for the headliner award category. Winning a sub-category is just as powerful a marketing tool.  It’s how you use your award status that counts.

Pay attention to submission requirements.  Book awards programs have rules for a reason. Not only will the committee be reviewing the content of your book, they also want to see if you can follow instructions. If they only want a hard copy of your book, don’t ask if you can send them an eBook and vice versa.  Pay attention to deadlines and get your book submitted early.

Investment.  Book awards can range from as little as $10 per submission to a few hundred dollars.  Most fall somewhere in the middle, plus the cost of mailing in a copy of the book for review.  It’s one of the most cost-effective ways to market your book, especially if you win.


Marketing your winnings.  Congratulations!  You’ve won!  Now what?  When the time comes and you’ve found out that your book has won an award, you should maximize the win.

  1. Find out what the awards committee is doing to promote your award status.  Take advantage of everything they are offering to you.  If they invite you to guest blog, take it.  If they want to promote a book excerpt, let them.  Whatever they offer be sure to work with their marketing team to maximize your exposure.
  2. Don’t be afraid to ask for more.  At a minimum you should receive a listing on the book award website, announcement in their press release and the ability to use the award logo on your book, website and other marketing materials. Don’t be shy.  Ask them for any extras that they can offer.  This includes additional social media mentions.  It can’t hurt!
  3. Promote your award status on your book cover.  Adding the award symbol or the words “Acme Book Award Winner” or “Acme Award Book Award Finalist” to the front cover adds to the books credentials, for the press and potential readers.
  4. Use the award status in all marketing.  You might think this is a given, however I have had so many authors with book that have won awards and they win and then forget to use the award status when promoting their title.  Put it on the website header, in your media kit and in your email signature.
  5. Update your author bio.  Every author should immediately update their author bio to include their status as a book award winner and/or finalist.  Be sure to update all postings of your bio from Amazon to Goodreads.
  6. Send out a press release.  Personally, I’m not a huge fan of sending out press releases because unless you have supporting PR and marketing support at the time the press release is submitted, it is a waste.  However, winning a book award is one of those times where sending out a press release IS the right thing to do.  Be sure to add the press release to the media section of your website, after it has gone out on the wire.
  7. Socialize.  Use your social media outlets to promote your newly found status as a book award winner.  It’s a real-time event that helps to create a buzz.
  8. Celebrate!  Celebrate your award and notify your local bookstores and the local media.  Don’t let this occasion pass you by.  Coordinate a local book signing and include that mention in the press release you’ll be sending out with your award winning message.

What if you don’t win?

If you don’t win, enter another awards contest and keep going until you do win.  At the least you’ve gotten the book in front of other authors and publishing industry professionals.  Who knows that that might do for you. The more people who read your book, just means more exposure.

Enter a book award today.  You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Here is a short list of some of the top independent book awards programs.

Sherrie Wilkolaski is a public relations and book marketing expert for independent authors and traditional publishers. Her unique balance of real-world experience as a best-selling author and her insider knowledge into the mechanics of the publishing process has allowed her to help thousands of authors successfully translate their creations into published works of art. A former Director of Publishing Services at Lulu and Director of radio show, “The Publishing Insiders.” Currently, she is a columnist for Press Pass and a variety of other publishing sites. She is a consultant and publishing services broker for a variety of small to mid-sized publishers, including Infinity Publishing. In December 2011, she launched a traditional publishing house, with modern-day twist, Pressque Publishing with partner Ellie Maas Davis. She is the author of best-selling book, “How to Start a Wedding Planning Business” and the “Cookies and Cocktails” series.  She has several books coming out in the new year and will also be launching her radio program, PubSmart.  IFWTWA board member and treasurer.

Image courtesy of Alen Stojanac.


Sherrie Wilkolaski

About Sherrie Wilkolaski

As the founder and president of Author’s Boutique and PubSmart Sherrie Wilkolaski is a Renaissance woman of the publishing industry. She brings to the writer’s table an effective fusion of marketing proficiency, best-selling accolades and a background in journalism. Her international public speaking credentials and social media savvy provide independent authors and traditional publishers a multifaceted strategy to achieving success. Sherrie’s specialized insight into the mechanics of the publishing process resulted in the formation of her distinctive boutique publishing house style, which bridges a client’s status from aspiring writer to published author. As a best-selling author, Sherrie has first-hand knowledge of the creative writing experience and the challenges involved in printing, packaging, marketing, and selling books. She has effectively harnessed the benefits of social media and site promotion to maximize an independent author’s circulation and public readership. In 2011, Sherrie co-founded traditional publishing house Pressque Publishing and is a consultant and publishing services broker for a number of small to mid-sized publishers and printers, including HP, and Infinity Publishing. She is columnist for Press Pass, Publisher and Editor of Luxe Beat Magazine and a featured blogger on a variety of industry publications. She is the former Director of Publishing Services at Lulu. Sherrie’s new radio program, PubSmart, is launching later this year. Sherrie sits on the board of the International Food, Wine and Travel Writers Association and was a featured speaker at the 2013 Annual Conference in Hawaii presenting, “The Power of a Book”: How to Use a Book to Enhance Your Career/Credibility as a Journalist”. A global conference speaker, she addressed members of the HP Dscoop Graphic Arts Asia Conference in Beijing, China in 2013. Sherrie is the author of best-selling book, “How to Start a Wedding Planning Business” and the popular coffee table book series, “Cookies and Cocktails”. Her much-anticipated book “How to Bulletproof Your Book” is scheduled to launch in the fall of 2013. Sherrie is a broadcast journalism alumnus of SUNY College at Buffalo and is a 2012 graduate of the Yale Publishing Course.