13 Ways to Use a Book Award for Marketing

by | Jul 22, 2019

By Sandra Beckwith

When one of indie kid lit author Cat Michaels’ books wins an award, she doesn’t just pose for a grip and grin at the awards banquet. Michaels, who has won four book awards in the past two years, makes sure her audience hears the good news, too.

For example, when her Sweet T and the Turtle Team was named the best environment category book for children by the Literary Classics Book Awards, Michaels documented her week at the organization’s conference and awards festivities through photos. The marketing-savvy writer turned the images into social media shares, a blog post, and even a video.

Winning is good, but it’s not enough

Michaels knows that it’s on her to make sure the book-buying world knows that her books are award-winners. It’s worth the time it takes, too, because an award lends a certain amount of prestige and cache to your book.

How can you follow Michaels’ lead and make the most of the awards your book will receive? Here are 13 ideas:

1. Include it in your author bio

You are now “an award-winning author.” Say so in:

2. Update your book description

Few things give book buyers confidence like the phrase “award-winning.” Work this into your book’s description everywhere – including:

  • your website
  • etail sales pages
  • Goodreads

3. Update your cover

For e-books and print on demand, incorporate the award seal into your cover design immediately.

If you have printed books in inventory and the organizer sells award stickers, buy a roll.

4. Ask what the contest organizer is doing to promote winners

There’s no point in duplicating efforts. Many will distribute an announcement press release and feature a list of winners on the competition website, but what else happens – anything?

Do they send a personalized press release to your local newspaper? If they do, you don’t have to. If they don’t, see number 5 below.

5. Send a press release

Using the organizer’s press release as a starting point, send your own press release to:

  • local media outlets
  • alumni publications
  • industry trade magazines (if that’s appropriate)

Change the organizer’s headline and first paragraph to focus on your connection to the media outlet (“Local author wins national book award,” “LSU alum wins national book award,” “Industry expert wins national book award”).

6. Announce it on your website

This good news belongs on your home page and the page that’s dedicated to book information.

7. Incorporate it into marketing materials

Michaels added award information to the bookmarks and tent cards she created for book signings.

8. Include it in your social media profile

Michaels’ Twitter and Facebook page headers, for example, showcase all four of her awards.

9. Share the news on social media

Your connections will be happy for you. Give them a chance to applaud your accomplishment.

10. Use email to let people know

People who know you will want to share your excitement. Michaels shared the news with her email newsletter subscribers.

In addition to announcing your award and its significance, make sure you explain briefly what the book is about and include a link to a purchase page.

11. Use it to get reviews

When sending out advance review copies, mention any awards in your cover note.

People are more likely to want to read and review your newest work when they know that previous books were recognized for their quality.

12. Ask the judges for comments

Then use them in your marketing materials.

Even a short phrase indicating why your book is a winner will go a long way on your:

  • book cover
  • website
  • online sales pages
  • press materials

13. Celebrate!

Treat your most ardent supporters to a party or celebration. Let those who believe in you share your joy.

Watch out for the scammers

Here’s a word or two of caution about awards, though: Because many authors would like to claim “award-winner” status, you have to be careful that you don’t let scammers take advantage of you.

Some aggressively promoted competitions are nothing more than income generators for organizers. Before entering a contest and paying a fee, check the list of contests and competitions reviewed and rated by the Alliance of Independence Authors. Are there any on that list that you could win?

What did you do to get the most from a book award? Please share your tips here!
Photo: BigStockPhoto

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  1. Gisela Hausmann

    Sandra, since when do authors learn the names of the judges? I won 7 different book awards, including the coveted KBR. Never once did I learn the name of the judges, probably for good reason.

    I know how I got harassed in my capacity as an Amazon top reviewer. I can only guess what some authors would do if they’d know the names and email addresses of the judges. Could you clarify?

    • Sandra Beckwith

      Gisela, have you asked for judge names? Sometimes it’s just that easy.

      For example, I’m a member of a national organization for writers and authors that sponsors an awards program and doesn’t hide judge names, so I wouldn’t even have to ask. It would easy for me to get their email addresses and send a note thanking them for the recognition and asking what they liked the most about my book.

      But it sounds like you’re suggesting that judges who typically select a handful of category winners would be annoyed about getting an email like that. I’ve judged several awards programs, and I’d love to tell a winner what stood out about an entry that was so exceptional that I helped identify it as one of the best. (But I can also be too much of a cheerleader, I guess!)

      I’ve also spoken to authors who have won awards and received specific feedback from judges. It didn’t occur to me to ask if they thought that was unusual.

      Finally, I don’t think you can compare requests for Amazon reviews with being an award-winner who asks a judge, “What makes my book a winner?”



      • Gisela Hausmann

        WD guarantees a written evaluation which arrives 4-8 weeks after the awards are announced.
        Here are their instructions: “If you wish to reference this review on your website, we ask that you cite it as such: “Judge, 25th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards.”

        My thoughts about communicating with a judge of a competition? Totally inappropriate. Entering a reputable book award isn’t high school.

        And, what if an author whose book won an award gives the judge’s contact information to others who did not win an award and these other authors decide to contact the judge to ‘clarify’ WHY they didn’t win anything?

        Don’t say that’s not happening. I reviewed from 2012-2017 and actually walked the walk. Here is part of the strangest complaint email I received:
        “…Curious why 4 instead of 5 stars…” … and later after a short recap of my review… “… so I feel cheated with 4 stars, just my honest reaction. But your review was presented with excellent panache, which makes the 4 stars all the more puzzling and even insulting…”

        In short, received a great review was not good enough for this author.

        Naturally, that’s not the only complaint email I received, by far, but, for sure, it’s the strangest.
        So, these are some of my thoughts that stem from actually doing that kind of work though I was never a judge. I could not possibly take on the huge work load of reading two or three dozen books in a relatively short time span so I always passed on all invitations.

        What about you? Which book award did you win? Did you contact any or all judges? What’d they say?

        • Sandra Beckwith

          Thanks for sharing your experiences, Gisela. I completely understand your perspective.


          • Gisela Hausmann

            You are welcome,Sandy.
            I believe specific ally in this industry it pays off to ask people and organizations (incl. Amazon) who actually do the task if it’s appropriate to do this or that before taking action.

            Because too many people advised on how-to-do tasks they themselves didn’t and don’t do, the costs for marketing a book are now more expensive than before the invention of the Kindle and PoD. Of course, publishing a book is still cheaper, because ebook publishing and PoD is almost free but the costs of marketing a book climbed into the thousands.

            Seven years ago one could market a book for less than 500 bucks and get 100 reviews in the process, today, the same runs for between 1,500-2,500.

            It’s a direct result of authors following the wrong influencers.

  2. Linda Rigsbee

    Thanks for clearing that up. I’m dyslexic, so I often get confused. I’m sure it wasn’t because you weren’t clear enough. Yes, I’m a writer and I have dyslexia. You can do anything if you want to bad enough. Just get good editors. Ha ha.

    • Sandra Beckwith

      Linda, I LOVE that you have persisted. Good for you!


  3. Sandra Beckwith

    Thanks, Flora. Cat was generous to share what she’s done, which I included in the first few paragraphs. I didn’t mean to suggest that she used all 13 of my ideas, but she definitely used enough of them to make sure we all celebrated her success!

    I think # 12 is particularly useful, too. Imagine being able to use something like, “I was mesmerized!” from a respected publishing professional!


  4. Linda Rigsbee

    Interesting. Authors scamming? Are you saying that you can’t claim you are an award-winning author if you won a contest that isn’t rated by the Alliance of Independent Authors? I don’t think that is scamming. Maybe ignorance.

    • Sandra Beckwith

      Hey Linda, I apologize for confusing you. I was referring to companies scamming authors with bogus awards programs. I wasn’t saying that authors are scammers.

      And no, I’m not saying that you aren’t a legitimate award-winner if your contest isn’t on the ALLi list. I included that list because so many authors ask me if specific contests are legitimate, that I knew that many here would appreciate the link. We’re fortunate that ALLi has vetted so many of them for us.

      Thanks for stopping by.


  5. Flora M. Brown


    Thanks for sharing Cat’s great tips for getting the most from book awards. I especially love #12, asking the judges for comments. These are even useful when you are a runner-up.

  6. Sandra Beckwith

    Cat, I’m so grateful you were willing to share your experiences and wisdom with other authors! I know it will help others!

    I know that “next time” will come, and I’ll be cheering you on!


  7. Cat Michaels

    Thanks so much for sharing my book award marketing strategies, Sandra! It takes effort but is worth every minute of toil. I’m bookmarking this link, so I can notch up my efforts with your tips even more for next time.



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