Here Are the Best Book Awards for Self-Published Authors in 2021

It can be tough to stand out as a writer in a sea of indie authors. Just about anyone can put out a book these days.

Sp 006bookawardsforselfpublishedauthors

But when you’re on your own, it’s important to find your tribe of loyal readers. That’s where winning a self-published book award can come in.

Book awards make a statement — they show potential readers that your book has been reviewed by a panel of expert judges or well-known critics.

Book awards not only engage your audience, but they can help you gain the attention of distributors and publishers for future work. Not to mention adding the title of “award-winning author” to your résumé.

Just because you can’t travel for your next book tour doesn’t mean you can’t ramp up excitement for your book and gain publicity.

Take a chance submitting to these prestigious book awards and you might just find yourself joining the ranks of other successful self-published authors.

Writer’s Digest (Deadline: April 2021)

For 29 years, Writer’s Digest has been a leader for news, resources, and competitions for self-published authors. It’s no wonder this award is at the top of the pack.

There are 9 separate categories to choose from, and the submission process is easier than ever through Submittable.

The prizes for this award are pretty snazzy, including up to $8,000 in cash, feature articles in upcoming issues of Writer’s Digest, and a paid trip to the Annual Conference in 2022.

Even if you don’t win the grand prize (we’re still rooting for you!), you’ll get personalized feedback from the judges and a digital award seal to use in all your future promotions.

The early-bird deadline for submitting a self-published book is April 1 and is priced at $99 for the first entry and $85 for additional entries.

Make sure to review the rules and visit their Submittable portal here when you’re ready to take the plunge.

Next Generation Indie Book Awards (Deadline: February 2021)

Even though the February 12 deadline is quickly approaching, you won’t regret putting your book in the hat for this award.

With over 70 categories to choose from, you’re sure to find the perfect home for your book. If your book was published after 2019 and written in English, you’re qualified for entry.

Finalists and winners receive cash, a cool trophy, and exclusive exposure to a New York literary agent (that last one has us super excited!).

Another bonus: They’re partnered with Next Generation Indie Film Awards who support up-and-coming filmmakers from around the world. Maybe a screenwriter will catch wind of your award-winning book and turn it into Hollywood’s next blockbuster!

But don’t worry, we know that the book is always better than the movie.

BIBA – Best Indie Book Award (Deadline: October 2021)

You’ve got plenty of time to submit for this award, although you’re welcome to apply early for a smaller fee ($50 through Jan. 31, $65 Feb-Oct).

This contest includes small presses like HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster, as well as international self-published authors.

This award is given for strong writing skills, from story-telling to grammar and punctuation.

Ongoing exposure is included in the winnings of this contest, so you can enjoy a full year on the front page of their website, and promotion on their social media channels and email lists.

Past winners include USA Today and New York Times best-selling authors. With any luck, you’ll be next!

IPPY Awards (Deadline: February 2021)

The history of this award is worth its own recognition. 25 years ago, this was the first unaffiliated book award that didn’t require joining an association.

This plays into the award’s rebellious nature, allowing a place for authors to break the rules and escape the constraints of traditional publishing.

The testimonials from past winners speak for themselves as many have gone on to print more books and build relationships with impressive literary agents and publicists. You’ll also be featured in press releases that are sent to over 2,000 industry outlets.

Once the world opens up again, IPPY winners will get two free passes to the IPPY gala held in either Chicago or New York City.

Get that author wardrobe ready, my friend. They’re rolling out the red carpet for you!

National Indie Excellence Award (Deadline: March 2021)

This award hasn’t been around as long (they’re celebrating 15 years this year), but they do provide the most categories for submitting.

You’ll have to submit a physical book to this contest, so be sure you give yourself enough time to mail it in alongside an online form.

The prizes of this contest are also diverse due to the different sponsorships offering a variety of different awards. For example, DartFrog Books will assist winners with bookstore distribution while Writers Blok will give away year-long memberships.

Indie authors might also find the blog section of their website helpful.

Rubery Book Award (Deadline March 2021)

Based in the UK, this book award accepts entries from around the world. Unlike other awards that require additional fees for submitting multiple categories, you’ll just pay a one-time fee of $60.

They are also transparent with judging details. This year’s competition will be judged by prolific reader Clare Morrall and best-selling author Narinder Dhami who has published over 300 books including the novelization of Hollywood’s Bend it Like Beckham.

Personal and quaint (as the Brits are), this contest has catapulted many winning authors into further success and notoriety.

You can prep your entry with their nifty checklist and submit your book or eBook (or both) if you’re feeling confident!

Independent Press Award (Deadline: January 2022)

This one’s coming and gone, but keep it in your calendar for next year.

The nice thing about this contest is that you aren’t limited to a publication date. While most awards require books to have been published within the past year or so, this one lets you submit any previously published work.

You have the option of submitting online or mailing in a copy of your book, both for a fee of $95 for the first submission and an additional $75 for submitting to more categories.

You can check out the list of amazing winners from 2020 for inspiration!

Ready to Claim Your Award?

There’s no doubt about it: Winning feels good!

With a prestigious book award, you’ll build momentum for your book and maybe win some cool prizes in the process.

As all self-published authors know, the more you put into your book, the more you’ll get out of it in the long run.

For this reason, you might consider bolstering those book reviews while you’re at it.

Quality reviews can grab the attention of award juries and readers alike, so you’ll need to make sure you get some good ones!

Learn how to get more book reviews from readers, authors, and other important outlets >

Adam user

President & CEO,
Steuben Press

Adam Ellis has worked in the book industry since 2002, when he was first exposed to the wonderful world of Self Publishing. Over the years he has worked with thousands of authors and helped to produce, print and publish countless books.


In early 2013 I approached Steuben Press on a book project I'd hope to get off the ground. I was referred to them by another business entirely, which I think is a credit to how Steuben Press is seen amongst their competitors. The project was a 120 page, full color art book that came out amazing. They under promised and over delivered a great book which I’m happy to report is already on its third printing. I have and would recommend Steuben Press to my friends and other self-publishers.

– Ian Robert McKown, Colorado

See Ian’s incredible artwork and buy his book at