Previous Finalists




My Book Awards:

Fun to Run or a Total and Utter Nightmare


Five years ago, I set up the Wishing Shelf Book Awards. Why? Well, I was upset with book awards open to self-published and independently published authors. I felt they were a total rip-off. I remember, I was a finalist in one America-based award - I was so excited – and they didn’t even bother to tell me. Then, in another award, also America-based, I did very, VERY well but all they were interested in was selling me dodgy winner stickers at a crazy, inflated price. Then there was the feedback I got from the Writer’s Digest Award. It was a joke! It was 19 (yes, 19!) words long and congratulated me on writing a wonderful adult book set in war-time France. IT WAS A CHILDREN’S BOOK SET IN A MAGIC BOOKSHOP!     

So I went for a walk…

I went for a walk and decided in amongst the tall chestnut trees to set up my own book award. And that, my fellow authors, is what I did.

But it had to be different. Much, much different to what was on offer at present. So I thought to myself, what do I want from a book award? Well, I want the organisers to see me, actually see me – and my book. I don’t just want to be a ‘$’ sign or a ‘£’ sign to them. Also, I want to get ‘value for money’ so, even if I don’t win, I want to get feedback from the judging. And, finally, I don’t want to pay lots of money to enter.

So, from this, I set up The Wishing Shelf Book Awards (

Over the last seven years, it has grown. Wow! How it’s grown. In the first year we had 42 authors and publishers enter. This year it will be closer to 300! Now we have a very interactive Facebook page where the authors and publishers can discuss the award and how best to run it. Now we provide the authors who enter a catchy quote to help them to market their books. Now we post reviews – based on the feedback – on Amazon and Goodreads. Now we actively support Blind Children UK, helping them to produce books for children with sight problems. Now we have over twenty schools and two adult reading groups (1 in London, 1 in Stockholm, a total of 62 adult readers) helping us to judge the books. Now we send authors who enter feedback of between 400 – 1,500 words based on the readers’ comments. They look at the cover, the content, the editing and the style. We even provide the authors with statistics e.g. How many of the readers would read another book by this author. How many of the readers felt the cover was strong etc, etc. And the prize list for the finalists and winners is pretty impressive too.

So now, my tiny award is a bit of a monster and is taking more and more of my time. Is it fun? Yes, most of the time it is. And that’s important as the Award is not run for profit and every penny of the entry fee is spent on running the award and helping to support Blind Children UK. In fact, most of the time it is very rewarding and our reputation on and off the web is ‘glowing’. Don’t get me wrong. We do mess up. Two years ago, for example, it took too long to get all the feedback to the authors. So, this year, I’m employing help. The Wishing Shelf Awards actually has a member of staff! An ex-primary school head teacher who will help me to correlate all the feedbacks. It’s all very exciting.

But do you know what the best bit is? The very, VERY best bit. Twice now, one of the US-based awards I hate has attempted to buy my small awards. And I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed telling them to go to…well, you know where. Now THAT was fun!

Edward Trayer, under the pen name Billy Bob Buttons, is the author of thirteen children’s books including the UK People’s Book Prize Winner, I Think I Murdered Miss. He is also the organizer of The Wishing Shelf Book Awards




Hi everybody,

I just got a message from an author who won the bronze in The Wishing Shelf Book Awards asking if this will help her to sell her book. Well, here’s the thing. It will, if you see the medal as a tool in your marketing tool box.

For example, when I won the UK People’s Book Prize, I put it on my author page and I put it on the front cover of all of my books. This helped a little. But it helped BIG TIME when I was trying to twist the arms of schools to allow me to visit them and present my literacy workshops to the students there. In the past, when I sent a message to schools offering to do my workshops, I’d get a response of approx. 1%. But, when I put ‘Winner of The UK People’s Book Prize’ in the box at the top of the message, I got a response of approx. 12%.

You see, 99% of readers have no clue how good or bad a literary award is. They simply see ‘Award-Winning Book’ and they think, ‘Oh, it must be good’. In my case, the teachers in the schools see ‘UK People’s Book Prize Winner’ and think, ‘Oh, he must be good’ and they book me up for a visit.

So, to sum up then, yes, being a finalist or winning a medal in The Wishing Shelf Book Award can help you to sell your books, but only if you have a marketing strategy whereby you utilize the win to further that marketing strategy. Let me put it this way, after winning the award I now sell an average of 75 books at every school I visit. Before I won the award, I sold an average 45 books. The difference: I had a marketing strategy and every poster I now send the schools says ‘Winner of the UK People’s Book Prize’ in bold, red letters at the top. And the letter the schools send to parents to tell them a children’s author is visiting and they can buy a signed book – well, I bet you can guess what it says in big, bold letters at the top.

See winning an award as a tool in your tool box. But it you don’t take the tool out, it’s not going to do you any good.


I hope that helps,





The finalists of the 2017 Wishing Shelf Book Awards are now on the website. Check them out:

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