Sent by Nicole Evelina

So far in this series we’ve covered associations, groups looking to elevate the best of indie books, and resources such as books, websites/blogs, and social media. Now we’ll tackle two big areas of interest for all writers: how to get more reviews and what contests are open to indie authors. (NOTE: Each of the titles is a link to that site).


We all know how important reviews are to selling our books. There are several legitimate services that can help connect you to readers. (Remember, that is what you are paying for here, not for the reviews, which is against Amazon’s TOS and are never guaranteed by these services.)


This one is very pricey if you don’t do it through a group or co-op of some sort, pretty much out of the price range of most indie authors. Check out discounts offered by IBPA and other groups if you’re interested in using NetGalley. I’ve done it once and was not happy with my results (both in terms of numbers and in how mean the reviews were) but others have had great success.

Novel Reviewers

This group is kind of like NetGalley, only smaller. You pay for shelf space for a certain amount of time ranging from $50 for 90 days to $150 for 365 days. Readers are supposed to leave a review, but don’t always and they usually don’t cross list their reviews on Amazon/Goodreads. For me, it was a nice way to get a few more downloads, but not terribly successful.

Choosey Bookworm

They feature books in a newsletter (like Bookbub or Forwordz) or you can ask to be connected to their group of book reviewers for a price based on how many connections you’re looking for. If you do that, you gift your ebook to the reviewers through Amazon and they leave a review. (Not all will, but most do.) I have had more luck with this than Novel Reviews or Netgalley. (Their website is not intuitive. Scroll to bottom and look for “For Authors” under “Resources” at the right.)

Kindle Book Review

They maintain a list of reviewers and allow you to query one at a time to see if they are interested in reading your book. You can also advertise inexpensively/free, and they sponsor the annual Kindle Book Awards.

Night Owl Reviews

It’s free to list your book with them, but there is no guarantee your book will be reviewed. They also offer advertising opportunities at a range of prices and occasionally send swag (bookmarks, postcards, etc.) to people who have signed up to receive it.


I will admit to being a big fan of contests, but that may be because I’m highly competitive. Regardless of your motivations for entering, contests are a great way to gain notoriety and get your work in front of new readers. Winning gives your book a mark of legitimacy and every contest I’ve won or been a finalist in has brought new opportunities my way. Plus, who doesn’t like being told their work is great?

But you do have to be careful because there are quite a few scammers out there posing as legitimate contests. Rather than naming names since everything is subjective and I could be wrong, I’ll give you this advice: watch out for high entry fees, tons of categories and dig into who really sponsors the contest. Usually if it’s sponsored by a media/marketing company, you want to be wary. Also, you’ll want to look at what you’re getting for your money. If you win, are they giving you an actual medal/trophy/ribbon? Is there a cash prize? Or are you only getting a badge for your web site and a press release? Do they expect you to pay extra for your award? Few benefits for your money are red flags.

That being said, here’s a list of indie awards I believe are worth taking a look at. I’m including their prices (as of the time I made this list) so you can see the range. They are roughly in order of when submissions are due throughout the year.

Chanticleer Reviews

(Full disclosure, I won several contests of theirs in 2015 and am a finalist in 2016)
They do contests in every fiction genre, with prices and deadlines varying by contest

Next Generation Indie Book Awards

(Full disclosure: I won a Gold Medal in the Fantasy Category through them in 2016)
$75/category $50 for additional categories

International Rubery Book Awards


Library Journal Indie Ebook Awards

Free to enter, but only they take romance, mystery, science fiction, fantasy and young adult


One category: members $ 75, non-members $ 95,
Multiple categories: members $ 60/category, non-members $80/category

Foreword Book of the Year Awards

$79 one category /$59 multiple categories

Benjamin Franklin Awards (IBPA)


There are also a few that have sparked quite a bit of debate over whether or not they are legitimate. You will find articles on sites like Writer Beware telling you to be cautious about these, but not calling them scams. I’m listing them so you can make up your own mind.

Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPY)


Reader’s Favorite

Early Bird, $89/Final $108/category

Writer’s Digest Self Published Book Awards

$99/$75 for each additional category

Also, don’t forget that most genre groups/associations hold their own contests.

I think I’ve pretty much exhausted what I’ve learned during my own crash course on self-publishing. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at

Nicole Evelina is a multi-award-winning historical fiction and romantic comedy writer. Her most recent novel, Madame Presidentess, a historical novel about Victoria Woodhull, America’s first female Presidential candidate, was the first place winner in the Women’s US History category of the 2015 Chaucer Awards for Historical Fiction.

Her debut novel, Daughter of Destiny, the first book of an Arthurian legend trilogy that tells Guinevere’s life story from her point of view, was named Book of the Year by Chanticleer Reviews, took the Grand Prize in the 2015 Chatelaine Awards for Women’s Fiction/Romance, won a Gold Medal in the fantasy category in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards and was short-listed for the Chaucer Award for Historical Fiction. Been Searching for You, her contemporary romantic comedy, won the 2015 Romance Writers of America (RWA) Great Expectations and Golden Rose contests.

Nicole’s writing has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Independent Journal, Curve Magazine and numerous historical publications. As an armchair historian, Nicole researches her books extensively, consulting with biographers, historical societies and traveling to locations when possible. Nicole is a member of and book reviewer for The Historical Novel Society as well as a member of the Historical Writers of America, Women’s Fiction Writers Association, Romance Writers of America, the St. Louis Writer’s Guild, Women Writing the West, Alliance of Independent Authors, the Independent Book Publishers Association and the Midwest Publisher’s Association.

Find Nicole and her writing in these places: — — Goodreads — Facebook — Twitter


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