Keep Your Eye on the Prize

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At the beginning of this month, the Whistler Independent Book Awards opened for 2019 submissions, and it got us thinking about how the increasing recognition of self-published books in the awards arena is yet another positive change in the book publishing landscape. The WIBAs recognize excellence in Canadian self-publishing, and two years ago, we sat on the shortlisting committee. The quality and professionalism of the work we judged was undeniable, and last year, one of our client’s novels, Return of the Jaguar, was honoured as a WIBA nominee.

There is no doubt that, whether you’re nominated for an award or, of course, you win one, it’s great publicity that will lead to increased attention – and yes, sales – for your book. And good news: there is, in fact, an extensive list of awards for which self-published books are eligible. The Writer’s Union of Canada has done a nice job of compiling them here. And if you’ve written a children’s book that you feel is an awards contender, check out this list that The Canadian Children’s Book Centre put together. Not included on this CCBC list is the Vine Awards, which our client Deborah Katz won last year in the children’s/young adult category for her book, Rare Is Everywhere (taking home a very welcome $10,000 prize to boot!).

These lists are not necessarily comprehensive, so do a little bit of homework on awards available in your genre – even a quick Wikipedia search for Canadian book awards will bring up a pretty decent list to supplement the ones provided here. And don’t assume that any awards shut out independently published books; check their eligibility requirements (along with their deadlines) regularly to see what doors have been opened. Another one of our clients recently submitted his mystery thriller to the Crime Writers of Canada’s Arthur Ellis Award, which is open to self-published authors. Who knew?

The opportunity for self-published authors to now be recognized for their work by literary awards is another positive way that the divide between traditional and independent publishing is closing, and let’s face it, being a winner feels good too!