One of the best ways for a young organization to quickly add some legitimacy to its brand is to create an industry award, and the indie publishing website IndieReader, launched in 2009, has done just that. Its first annual IndieReader Discovery Awards is now accepting submissions through February 29th, 2012, with winners announced next June.

I imagine a lot of indie authors are eager to see a legitimate annual award established, both to help publicize stellar works and to add a sheen of respectability to the self-publishing side of the marketplace.

However, as with so many writing awards this one comes with an entry fee, and instead of a cash prize it offers a series of perks, including paid reviews from Kirkus Indie and IndieReader, and inclusion in a first-look deal that IndieReader has with Los Angeles company Book Ends Entertainment. (Of course these could ostensibly be worth more to an unpublicized writer than a chunk of cash, depending on your goals.)

But I know that a lot of publishing professionals caution against entering contests that charge entrance fees, and I had trouble finding any fine print that explicitly guarantees winners against hidden fees or rights claims. That doesn’t mean the contest is bad, because I simply could have overlooked this information, and it’s worth noting that the contest has announced an impressive collection of judges from across the industry (including Teleread’s own Paul Biba). I’ve reached out to IndieReader’s founder to ask for clarification. If I find out more information I’ll post it here as an update.

In the meantime, this is the formal announcement:

IndieReader Announces the Launch of
The First Annual “IndieReader Discovery Awards”
Because it’s who reads your book that really counts!

IndieReader (, the essential consumer guide to self-published books and the people who write them, has just launched the first annual “IndieReader Discovery Awards” (IRDA).

From professional book reviews and their “Where Indies Count” bestselling list to publishing services and IR Selects (which gets indie books onto the shelves of indie bookstores), IR’s goal is to introduce book-lovers to great indie books, while creating opportunity and exposure for indie authors. The “IndieReader Discovery Awards” are an extension of that goal.

Says IRDA’s Program Director Izzie Ackerman, “There’s no longer much doubt that indie books can be successful, both commercially and creatively. That left the challenge of discovering the best of what’s out there. That’s where the IRDA’s come in, giving indie authors access to people who can make a difference in their book’s success. That means book reviewers, PR professionals, journalists, media people, publishers and agents (because, let’s face it, many indie authors still want to be traditionally published)–all of whom are represented on our panel.”

The IRDA’s are open to all self-published books with a valid ISBN. Judging will be based on the quality of writing and the originality of the story. While editing, production quality and cover and interior design will also be considered, the goal of the IRDA is to find talented writers and great books. There are no restrictions on pub dates and both eBooks and paper books can be submitted. The entry fee is $150 per title per category, with an additional $50 fee for each category entered (there are 49 in total). Entries will be accepted from July 14th, 2011 through February 29th ,2012 and winners will be announced on June 18th, 2012.

Also setting the IRDA’s apart is the absence of prizes like cash awards and fancy dinners. Says Ackerman, “While all the gold foil stars, cash prizes, trophies and awards ceremonies might be fun, the difference between a successful book and a non-successful book (self or traditionally pubbed) is the exposure it gets to people who can help make it a success.” was founded by Amy Edelman, an author and public relations professional, in 2009. It has been written about in The New York Times magazine, the Christian Science Monitor and was recently named a MediaBistro “Start Up of the Week.”

# # #

Panel of Judges:

Jennifer Bergstron, Gallery Books (a division of Simon & Schuster)
Tanya Hall, Greenleaf Publishing

Clay Ezell, ICM
Kristyn Keene, ICM
Kari Stewart, ICM
Joelle Delbourgo, Joelle Delbourgo Associates

Jocelyn Kelley, Kelley & Hall Publicity
Jessica Glenn, MindBuck Media

Perry Crowe, Kirkus Reviews
Marilyn Dahl, Shelf Awareness
Bethanne Patrick, Shelf Awareness
Nina Sankovitch, and The Huffington Post

MJ Rose, Buzz, Balls & Hype, and
Meryl Moss, Book Trib and Meryl L. Moss Media Relations, Inc

Update: Below are some questions I emailed Amy Edelman regarding the contest, as well as her answers.

  1. Are there any editing fees associated with any of the prizes?
    No editing fees.
  2. Are there any undisclosed fees at all beyond the $150 + $50 per additional categroy, particularly for the winners?
    No undisclosed fees aside from the cost of sending their books (2 for the 1st category and one each thereafter)
  3. Can you share some details on the first-look deal arrangement?
    Basically the first-look deal just means that the author agrees to have Book Ends Entertainment try and sell their work. If a deal does arise, the author can refuse it if they’re not happy with the terms.
  4. I assume IndieReader Selects (IRS) isn’t an exclusive partnership and the author can still promote/sell elsewhere?
    IRS is not an exclusive partnership.

Thanks, Amy!


  1. Hi Chris, Thanks for posting. But a few things. IndieReader is not a “young organization” looking “to quickly add some legitimacy to its brand” by creating an industry award. Rather, we’ve waited 2 1/2 years to actually be legitimate before launching the awards. Second, as both a traditionally and indie pubbed author I can promise you that no cash replaces the exposure that our panel of judges insures (in response to your assertion that, “these [prizes] could ostensibly be worth more to an unpublicized writer”, I can assure you that there is no writer, perhaps short of James Patterson, who feels as if they’re publicized enough. And second, it used to be that the appearance of fine print that was suspicious. Now it’s the lack of it. So, here goes (as I emailed you in response to your questions this morning) THERE ARE NO HIDDEN FEES. NADA. NOTHING. Best, Amy Edelman IndieReader

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