Self-Publishing Guide: Self-Publishing Contests and Awards

by Rachel Sawden

One of the downsides of self-publishing is the big literary contests will not allow you to enter. One of the upsides is that there are plenty of annual contests specifically for indie and self-published authors. The great thing about these contests is that the quality bar is lower than that of the awards for the traditionally published authors. The odds are in your favour here!

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My Awards for Runaways

I won the 2019 National Indie Excellence Award for Chick Lit, and was a sticker-winning finalist in the 2019 Next Generation Indie Awards, along with an honorable mention in the Readers’ Favorite Awards. Shortly after, I was carried by Barnes & Noble online. I cannot verify that it was the contest that helped get my book carried, but given that the one review on my book’s Barnes and Noble page has the review that came with my Reader’s Favorite entry, points to this being the case.

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Marketing Value of Awards

If you win or are a finalist, you will be awarded with gold stickers that you can stick onto your paperback copies and digital stickers you can use to promote in your digitals spaces (your website, social media, Amazon Author Central Page, Goodreads, etc.). Think of these awards as a proof of concept, as a self-published author in the world of fiction you are already on the back-foot credibility-wise, but having an independent literary organization say your book is worth reading is priceless. These stickers will improve sales, get press leverage, and can even get you carried in a big box store.

Also, with a win, you can update your book blurb on Amazon to lead with a sentence stating that it is the recipient of the XXX awards. You can even be able to run another press release about it.

Some of these contests will also give you in-depth reviews that are given to you and if they are good, you have the option to publish them on their website. While you are not put in touch with the reviewer to ask them to post on Goodreads and Amazon, you can copy and paste these into the “Editorial Review Section” of your Amazon Author Central Page.


There is an entry fee associated with these contests of anywhere between $35-$150. It does add up but acquiring a gold sticker is priceless. Some will accept ARCs and some will only accept published copies. Some will ask for digital copies, and others will want printed copies. There are a lot of awards so I would say enter as many as your budget allows.

Reputable Self Publishing Awards

Some are less reputable than others so do your research, but here is a list of the most reputable ones:

  • IPBA Benjamin Franklin Book Awards
  • Foreward Indies Book Awards
  • Eric Hoffer
  • Indie Book Awards
  • IPPY Awards
  • Indie Reader (they also give a review that you can use for marketing)
  • Indie Excellence
  • Reader’s Favorite (they also give a review that you can use for marketing)
  • Writer’s Digest Self Pub Awards
  • Book Excellence Awards
  • North Street Book Awards
  • IAN Book Awards
  • Book Life Awards
  • American Bookfest
  • Best Indie Book Awards

We are nearly at the end of my Self-Publishing Guide! There is one final post yet, which is a quick word on digital advertising.

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