From time to time my inbox fills up with calls to entry for various book awards, and I always have mixed feelings about entering. While winning an award is certainly a good thing, there is also a downside.
I’ve entered competitions in the past and some of my books, such as Billy the Kid and the Lincoln County War, have won awards. I’m not going to lie to you. There’s nothing quite like the euphoria of knowing that your book beat out dozens, if not hundreds, of other entries. Awards are also a nice marking tool. Once again, there’s nothing quite like having that award sticker proudly displayed on your book cover. In fact, I’ve included one of mine. Not to brag, but to point out the downside to winning a book award.
I won the award in 2007. By 2010 my book looked dated.
The other big drawback is the cost. The last time I tried to enter a book competition the early bird entry fee was $90. They also wanted four printed copies of the book. By the time I added in the cost of the books, and my best guestimate for the postage, I realized I’d be spending at least $120, if not more. This was just to enter one title, in one category. If I wanted to enter a second category the cost would double. Competitions aren’t without risk. There is no guarantee your book will win, so as I thought it over I realized I’d be better off spending that $120 dollars on advertising my book.
So, is entering a book award competition a good idea? It’s something you have to decide for yourself. If you have the inclination, and the budget, then go for it. Who knows? Your book could be a winner. But if you don’t have the money, or if you feel unsure, then don’t. While it’s nice to win an award, winning an award does not guarantee that you’ll sell more books.