Which book awards do you enter? Do they matter?
Let’s start with the second question first. The answer: sometimes. Depending upon the tenacity of the author/publisher in getting the word out about the book and the award, you could be wasting your money. Awards can be used to market your book, but it doesn't happen by itself. You will be the primary promoter. Always.
Some of the more established awards—USA Book News, ForeWord Indie/Fab, Ben Franklin, IPPY, Indie Excellence and the Center for the Book (put your state name in front on Center for the Book to find contact)—send out professional press releases. Some actively promote the winners on their websites and events. When Judith Briles won the Colorado Center for the Book in the non-fiction category, the Tattered Cover Bookstore attended with a display of all the winners and sold books—lots of them … and continued to promote them actively throughout the year. However, other awards just take your money and only notify you if you are a finalist or winner. Little else is done.
Note: USA Book News, ForeWord Fab/Indie, Indie Excellence, IPPY and the Center for the Book do not require membership to enter their competitions. That’s where Author U believes the line should be drawn—awards can be big money for the promoter. With that money, there should be some media promotion for the winners and there should be a specific website that cares all the winners names and their books.
Back to the first question. If you are active in a publishing or authoring organization, consider entering. But if you have to pay a fee to be a member and then another one to enter the competition, take a pass. Your marketing (and these are marketing) dollars are best spent elsewhere.
The Book Awards business is a revenue business . . . for the promoter. Before you put your moneys out, make sure you do your homework. Why are you entering? If you win, what will you do to promote your status? Does the group support its winners with media coverage? Last but not least, Google the group—are there any complaints, problems or accusations of scams? If so, find another group. Make your time, your book, and your dollars work for you.
In September, many of the awards open for awards consideration. Is one in your midst? You will only know if you enter.