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:
- your bio for the book
- your website
- social media profiles
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
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
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
- online sales pages
- press materials
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!