Five Reasons Your Book May Not Be Winning Awards

Paula Sheridan, Founder of Page Turner Awards, ( offers advice to self-published indie authors on how to get their books to win awards and bring kudos to their self-publishing books business.

  1. Book Cover: Your book cover must be professionally designed to create intrigue and thus hook the reader and award judges to choose it to open the pages. It’s a myth that book cover designers are expensive. Most designers will charge a few hundred for a cover. Ask for recommendations in your writing groups. If you’re short on budget, search the internet for book cover solutions. We’re often told ‘not to judge a book by its cover’ which has a different meaning for humans than books. Most readers will buy a book based on the feeling they get when seeing the book cover. Equally, for a book award, judges will be drawn to covers they like, and that will encourage them to read on. Which brings me on to the next important point…
  2. Opening Chapters: The first page and opening chapters must hook the reader or judge within the first paragraph or two. Ensure your story’s opening grabs the reader or judge by their collar and pulls them along. And, before they know it, they are reading several chapters and can’t put your story down. This is vital for book awards and writing contests. In your opening chapters, be vigilant with grammar and check for typos. You cannot have a judge put your book aside due to bad workmanship. A free trial with a great piece of self-editing software, like ProWritingAid ( will ensure you don’t have any mistakes in your award submission. Don’t rely on Microsoft Word to do this important job for you!
  3. Compelling Characters: Start your story with a compelling character, either a heroine or a villain, but most likely the main hero of the story who is someone the reader or book award judges ( will care about almost straight away. They must capture the reader or judge’s attention, so they engage with the character and they continue reading to see what happens to the character. This should be the case for any self-published book, whether you intend to enter a book award or not!

     winning awards

  4. Be Brave: Don’t be afraid to try something new and show off your writing flair with original thoughts and ideas. For example, take a character’s personality or a plot point that we know as familiar and flip it in a way that we don’t recognise, then the reader or judge will find your writing exciting. Write something unexpected in the plot, or concept. Another given for all stories you intend to self-publish.
  5. Find High Value Prizes: When searching book awards to enter, check out the awards where the prizes are of real value towinning awards writers and authors, such as a writing mentorship or PR plans for book publicity, or critical feedback. These are all essential elements of a writing or book award, but not all have them. Page Turner Awards offers these prizes and much more. That’s probably because as an author myself, I created the awards with judges and prizes that I wanted to find in a literary award but couldn’t find. As writers, we want to win prizes that will improve our writing or help our self-publishing careers. Remember that a book award is another form of book marketing. Having a book award under your belt means you can promote your book as an award-winning book. If you’d like help with promoting your book, try out this book marketing trio, which you can download for free

Lastly, many writers and authors are sceptical about entering a new book award with no track record. If you find one that is new and you’re not sure if you should enter, check their previous successes.

Success stories from Page Turner Awards inaugural awards include three writers winning literary representation, six writers winning a writing mentorship, five writers winning a publishing contract and thirteen independent authors winning an audiobook production.

Good luck with your book awards entries!

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