Now that Alphabet Puke - Monsters' Medicine A-Z has seen the light of day for a few months, it's time to think about book awards. Some are submitted automatically and others are more particular. One thing I've learned is that not all book awards are created equal.
Some awards are extremely expensive and so a publisher needs to weigh the potential for acclaim against a hefty submission fee. For example, if several thousand entries are received per category, is the cost justified?
Additionally, some contests have dozens of categories, so even if a book wins, what does that mean? Is it like receiving a first place in the "best little red-headed girl with a curl over her left ear, missing two front teeth, and a lop-sided grin" category? How would colleagues or readers view that distinction? Would people even have heard about those awards? If it isn't the Caldecott or Newberry, what impact does a children's book award really provide?
Well, there are legitimate book awards that have been around for many years. They provide readers with an idea of the quality of the content and illustrations especially when reviewed by professionals. They may have different tastes from you but just like movie reviews, when something is bad, everyone thinks it's bad not just the high brow reviewers. So for marketing purposes, an award tells buyers that some folks think a book is worthy of recognition.
Just be careful that your book is submitted to a company whose intent is honest (i.e., submission fees are not exorbitant, reviewers are named, and the purpose of the award process doesn't seem to be to make the award organization wealthy).
Writer organizations also offer awards that provide a lot of exposure for a new book and don't charge a bundle for the privilege. Something to think about...