AT LAST! A BOOK AWARD RUN BY ANOTHER AUTHOR
Hi, my name is Billy Bob Buttons and I'm a UK-based children's author. I'm pretty successful. My books, Felicity Brady and the Wizard's Bookshop, The Gullfoss Legends, TOR Assassin Hunter, TOR Wolf Rising and I Think I Murdered Miss sell thousands a year, many of them directly to UK primary and secondary schools. Not bad, I guess, for any independently published author.
But for all my success, I detest entering book awards. Not that I don't do okay. I was a runner-up in the Rubery Book Awards and the prestigious UK People's Book Prize. In fact, I won the 2014 UK People's Book Prize for my children's novel, I Think I Murdered Miss. The problem with many book awards for independently published authors is they don't seem particularly interested in the books. All the organisers seem to want to do is sell 'Winner!' and 'Runner-up' stickers.
So, a few years ago, I (my real name is Edward Trayer, Billy Bob Buttons is simply a pen name) set up The Wishing Shelf Book Awards. I wanted to offer other independently published authors a very different award to what was presently offered on the internet. I wanted authors who enter to feel 'involved' and I wanted them to know we will judge their books thoroughly.
The Wishing Shelf Awards
I visit approximately 200 primary and secondary schools a year giving literary workshops. Here, I thought, was the perfect judging panel. I convinced a number of the headteachers (six, in fact) to allow their students to read and judge the children's books entered in the award. This way, not only are the finalists and winners decided by the intended readers and not a panel of so-called 'experts', but the feedback they send to us we then send on to the authors.
The adult books are judged by two Reading Groups, one in London where I often work and one in Stockholm where I live. They love reading the books and discussing them for hours over coffee and cake.
The next problem I faced was cost. I wanted to keep it cheap so as not to exclude any authors; but also the award cost a lot to run. I had to set up and pay for the website, cover the cost of posting the books between schools and Reading Groups, have a 'very cool' certificate designed and printed and, most importantly, I wanted to advertise the finalists in a high-circulation magazine. In the end, I set the price at £28 ($48) per book; a lot cheaper than other awards. And I decided to advertise the finalists with a quarter page, full colour advert in The School Librarian. It costs a fortune but I think it's worth it and it helps the authors to sell their books.
Why Choose Us
The Wishing Shelf Book Awards boasts 100% satisfaction from every publisher and author who has, so far, entered (42 in the first year, 104 in the second and 155 in the third) . The problem with other awards is, if you win, you win. Fantastic! But if you don't, you get nothing. With our award, every entrant, finalist or not, gets all the feedback from the judging, a catchy quote for the back of their next book or reprint and a review on Amazon and Goodreads. Then, if you are a finalist, you also get a logo, a certificate, marketing on the web and their book in The School Librarian. In 2013, we even organised for the all finalists in the children's category to have their book reviewed by The School Librarian. The authors were very happy.
With so many awards right now, particularly for self-published authors, the author is simply a '$' or a '£' sign. Even if they win, by then the organisers are concentrating on getting next year's authors to enter. But we answer every email personally and we ask authors to send us the blurb of their book prior to entering; if we think it's not the sort of thing our readers will enjoy, we urge them not to enter (we turn away approx. 10% at the moment; I often read the first chapter on Amazon (Look Inside) and if it's full of errors and needs a good edit, I tell the author not to bother). There is even a Facebook page so the authors can make suggestions on how to improve the awards and how to best spend the entry fees to best market their books.
If you are interested in entering The Wishing Shelf Book Awards, everything you need to know is right here. I can promise you your work will be respected and the benefits will far out-weigh the cost. In fact, I'm so confident in how well the award is run, if you're not happy at the end, I will refund you your entry fee.
All the best and good luck with your writing.
Billy Bob Buttons