The Yellow Brick Road of Book Awards
By Irish Beth Maddock

Marketing, Reviews and…Book Awards? Oh My!

This article originally appeared in InScribe’s Alberta Group monthly newsletter.

Going down the yellow brick road to have recognition and publicity for my God inspired book kept tugging at my spirit. The Lord had done His part in giving me a story to write for children, but now I needed to do my part in getting that book out into the world to share His love.

So…marketing, reviews…ok, this I could do. Yet then I was introduced to another realm that made me realize I certainly was not in “Kansas” any more. Book awards.

Unlike the days of yore where there seemed to be only a small, select amount of literary awards on the planet, I was astonished to see that the times have changed. There are so many awards out there now! The vast, stormy twister of them all was enough to make me want to shout, “Aunty Em! Aunty Em!” and wish myself well away from this overwhelming, foreign, land of “Oz” I found myself in.

What I did learn over the rainbow with some of these awards, (particularly for the self-published author), is there was a wicked witch of the west involved. Certain awards seemed simple money grabs from elusive book marketing companies – all promising the future success of my book. It also didn’t take a wizard for me to note that some of these “awards” just played into the ego and “terminal uniqueness” that can come with being a writer. What is worse, 99% of award applications I came across also came with a price tag, and sometimes a hefty one at that.

With everyone and even their dog Toto, offering all these literary awards, how was I, a first time, self-published children’s author, going to navigate this one?

Thankfully, the Lord was my Scarecrow, my Tin Man and my Lion, who encouraged, loved and guided me through the process. By His Holy Spirit, I was given my own pair of ruby slippers that brought wisdom, discernment and the ability to research…research, research and pray.

Pray and have peace before applying for any award is the advice I would share to fellow writers. Typically, I discovered, the longer the award has been around, chances are the more prestigious and regarded it is. I would also ensure that any award applied for offers the most specific category for your work to increase your chances of a placement.

Some websites I felt were helpful to start in my award research journey:

Writing: 50 Book Awards Open to Self-Publishers
The Book Designer’s Book Awards for Self-Published Authors
Publishers Weekly: DIY Book Awards for Self-Published Authors

In the end, despite a few tangles with some flying monkeys, God got me to my “Emerald City” when it came to applying for literary awards. And apply to several I did, in hopes that my book might be blessed with one seal for its front cover? This was my prayer.

Yet little did I know that Lord had plans for more than just one placement for my little book. I believe the awards it has received is a confirmation that my story was truly meant to be out in the world for His purposes. I am grateful and hope with all my heart that the recognition my book has been granted helps point others to heaven, sharing that “there is no place like home” with Jesus.

About this Contributor:

Irish Beth Maddock is the children’s author of The Great Carp Escape. Her inspirational fish “tail” based on a true story has won nine literary award placements since her book was published in 2015.
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