What are the best state-wide book awards? Top 5 Regional Book Awards for Independent Authors

Book awards heighten the authority of a book. That’s how we began this three-part series guiding authors through the dense forest of more than 6,000 possible book competitions each year.

This week, I want to focus on the wisdom of looking locally as well as nationally.

Local Book Awards

So, the first tip is: Explore your back yard. If you’ve still got a local newspaper in your town, search its website for news about book awards or prizes over the past year. If you spot an article reporting on prize winners, then it’s likely you could generate such coverage in the future. If you win a local award, that is. Ask colleagues about local award programs. In southeast Michigan, for example, a half dozen nonprofit groups give annual awards that include honors for authors.

State Book Awards

Many states have regional book awards for authors. Some are sponsored by librarians, some by book sellers and some are supported by educators and other public-service organizations. If you are an author of a new book, spend some time exploring these programs in your region.

Example: Hopwood Awards

Here’s a great example from Michigan. If you are enrolled as an undergraduate or graduate student at the University of Michigan, then you quality to enter your book in the Hopwood Awards. Obviously, that’s a high bar for entry. No one would enroll as a student just to enter the Hopwood contest. On the other hand, 45,000 people are U of M students , and many students are authors. U of M provides a helpful website—if you know where to look for it—to guide authors through the process of determining their eligibility and applying for these generous prizes.

Top 5 Regional Book Awards

Michigan Notable Book Awards

Michigan Notable Book Award logoFront Edge Publishing is based in Michigan and many of our authors are Michigan residents. The Michigan Department of Education and the Library of Michigan sponsor the Michigan Notable Book Awards. According to the Library of Michigan website:

Every year, the Library of Michigan selects up to twenty of the most notable books, either written by a Michigan resident or about Michigan or the Great Lakes. The selected books are honored in the year after their publication or copyright date. The books chosen speak to our state’s rich cultural, historical, and literary heritage and proves without a doubt that some of the greatest stories are found in the Great Lakes State.

There is no fee to submit a book for consideration for a Michigan Notable Book, the only cost is 6 to 10 copies of your book to be mailed to the review committee before the end of the year. The complete submission guidelines can be found here.

Florida Book Awards

Florida Book Awards logoAuthors from the southern state of Florida are eligible for The Florida Book Awards, which honor the best work by Florida authors. The Florida Book Awards are coordinated through the Florida State University Libraries with support of partner organizations from across the state. The contest recognizes and celebrates the year’s best books written by Florida residents, with the exception of submissions to the Florida Nonfiction and Visual Arts categories, whose authors may live elsewhere. Contest categories include Florida Nonfiction, General Fiction, General Nonfiction, Poetry, Popular Fiction, Spanish Language, Visual Arts, Young Adult Literature, Younger Children’s Literature (ages 0-6), Older Children’s Literature (ages 7-12) and Cookbooks. Applicants will need to mail 4 copies of their book and a $60 fee for each submission. Complete entrance guidelines can be found here.

Colorado Book Awards

Colorado Book Awards logoAuthors from the Rocky Mountain state of Colorado can compete for The Colorado Book Awards, an an annual program that celebrates the accomplishments of Colorado’s outstanding authors, editors, illustrators and photographers. Awards are presented in at least ten categories including anthology/collection, biography, children’s, creative nonfiction, fiction, history, nonfiction, pictorial, poetry and young adult. Submissions are accepted with a deadline of early January for books published in the previous calendar year or November or December of the prior year. For more information about The Colorado Book Awards please see their website. The entry fee is $53 and seven copies of your book. And, here’s a twist: Authors must watch this website over time, because the link to enter books is available only during an application season, starting , this year.

Minnesota Book Awards

Minnesota Book Awards logoThese prizes are sponsored by The Friends of the St. Paul Library Association. Authors, publishers, and agents may submit a book by completing the online form and submitting five copies of the book, plus a $45 entry fee. All books must have a copyright date and must be the work of a Minnesota author or primary artistic creator. The award committee is currently looking for additional judges, to become a judge see the requirements and the online application.

Washington State Book Awards

Washington State Book Awards logoAuthors who live in the state of Washington can now submit their 2018 published books for consideration for the Washington State Book Awards.

The purpose of the awards is to honor outstanding books by Washington authors, to recognize a diversity of voices, and to bring attention to the quality of writing being produced in Washington.

The deadline for submissions—including receiving copies of the books—is . There is no fee but you will have to send in between four and six books, depending on your category. There are four categories for books written for adults: Fiction, Poetry, Biography and Memoir, General Nonfiction. Washington also has four categories for Books for Youth: Picture Books, Books for Younger Readers (ages 6 to 8), Books for Middle Grade Readers (ages 8 to 12), Books for Young Adults (ages 13 to 18). Submission guidelines can be found here.

Not every state has a statewide book award program, but many do. It’s worth the time it will take you to do a Google search to find out if your book qualifies for an award in the state where you live. Look for regional awards too, or one for alumni of the schools that you’ve attended.

Getting your book additional attention is always good and a worthwhile expenditure of your time and energy.

Learn More

This is part 2 of a 3-part series on book awards.

Part 1
What Is the Value of Entering Contests for Book Awards and Prizes?
Part 3
Our Top 5 Dos and Don’ts for Winning a Book Award

About Susan Stitt

Susan Stitt is marketing director of Front Edge Publishing. Over the years, she has guided many authors through the challenging process of launching books and developing strategies that will grow readership. She also has worked widely with nonprofits. Now, she shares her expertise twice each month on our Front Edge Publishing website.

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