Book award contests worth entering; check ratings




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Orna Ross, ALLi Director

The Alliance of Independent Authors monitors the self-publishing industry through its Watchdog Desk, headed up by John Doppler, which identifies rogue author and publishing services that overcharge, under-deliver, or in any way confuse or exploit authors for financial gain.

Many contest and awards programs fall into this category and some questionable award schemes have been running for years. The ratings below offer the opinion of the Watchdog Desk, based on the principles outlined.

Book Contests and Awards

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John Doppler

ALLi is delighted to work with any services, including awards programs, that want to improve their offerings and align with current best practice for authors services.

Contact the Watchdog Desk at any time if you would like to inform us about a contest or award, or discuss a rating. Please use the form on this page.

Guiding Principles

1. The event exists to recognize talent, not to enrich the organizers.

Avoid events which are driven by excessive entry fees, marketing services to entrants, or selling merchandise like stickers and certificates.

2. Receiving an award is a significant achievement.

An event that hands out awards like Halloween candy dilutes the value of those awards, rendering them meaningless. Beware events that offer awards in dozens of categories. These are often schemes to maximize the number of winners in order to sell them stickers and other merchandise.

3. The judging process is transparent and clear.

Watch out for contests whose judging criteria and personnel are vague or undisclosed.

4. Prizes are appropriate and commensurate with the entry fees collected.

If a cash prize is offered, it should align with the size of the entry fee. “Exposure” is not an appropriate prize. Representation or publication are acceptable prizes, but only if offered by a reputable company without hidden fees.

5. Entrants are not required to forfeit key rights to their work.

Avoid contests with onerous terms, especially those which require the forfeiture of publishing rights without a termination clause. When in doubt, have an independent professional review the terms.


Updated annually and drawing on recommendations from ALLi members, warnings from our Watchdog Services, community word-of-mouth and in-depth research, How To Choose A Self-Publishing Service compares the most significant self-publishing services, from single service suppliers to package providers; from large big brand names to smaller sole traders; from off-the shelf providers to bespoke services.

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