Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the Best Indie Book Award®?

    The Best Indie Book Award® is an annual, international literary award contest recognizing independent authors all over the world. Entries are limited to independently (indie) published books, including those from small presses, e-book publishers, and self-published authors.

  2. When Is The Deadline For Entry?

    Literary Contest: Each year, the book submission deadline is Noon (EST), Sept 1st.
    Book Cover Contest: The deadline for Cover submission is Noon (EST), Sept 1st.
    Illustration Contest: The deadline for Illustration submission is Noon (EST), Sept 1st.
    Submissions open on January 1st of each year.

  3. Will I Receive A Confirmation That I Entered?

    Entrants receive a total of three confirmations: one automated receipt from us, one email with log-in information to your author page, and one confirmation of your category and your book entry. Once you receive the latter, your entry is already in the pipeline for judging.

  4. Will I Retain My Book Rights If I Enter?

    Absolutely! It’s your book, you can do whatever you wish with it. You retain full rights to any work you submit.  Keep in mind, we are a competition, not a publisher.

  5. What Formats Do You Accept?

    We accept Mobi, ePub, PDF, Word Doc or Docx formats of your complete novel. (For PDF Versions: Single page only. No double-facing page, book-block versions.)

  6. Do I Need To Send A Book Cover?

    We only need a cover image for the Book Cover Contest; we do not need it for the Literary Contest.

  7. What Do You Do With My Book File?

    To alleviate any concerns you may have about your property rights, we do not make any book files available anywhere in the public domain. Only the contest coordinator and the judges will see your book file, and the judges only see what is locked to a Kindle. We do not send any digital file to a judge via email or via any attachment process. All files are deleted from our email, from our server, and from the judging Kindles six months after the given contest year ends. (We keep the file for six months in case the entrant has any questions.)

  8. Can I Enter A Book That Has Not Been Released Yet?

    No. The book must be currently available to the public.  This is a published book contest.

  9. Is There A Minimum Word Count For Literary Entries?

    Fiction entries are limited to independently published, full-length novels consisting of 45,000 words or more.
    Non-fiction entries are limited to independently published books of 25,000 words or more. (We do make some exceptions.)
    Children’s books do not have a minimum word count.
    Novella; 15,000 to 45,000 words.
    Short Story Collections should be at least 12,500 words.
    Poetry Collections should have no less than 50 pages.

  10. Is There An Age Requirement To Enter?

    All entrants must be 18 years old or older.

  11. What Do You Mean By Independently Published?

    Any books you enter must be independently published and your own work.  This means the book must be self-published by the author (You). In other words, you retain full rights to your book. Or your book must be published by one of the qualifying small presses. 

    What qualifies as a small press?
    Any self-publishing arm of any major publisher.
    Any publisher that offers a reversion of rights with a 30-day notice.
    Any small publisher using a standard contract but is not owned by a major corporation and has a small number of authors, generally publishing a small number of authors per year.
    Independent partner publishers.
    University presses.
    Any small publisher fitting the above criteria and is fully independent of any major corporation.

    If you are self-published through sites like Amazon’s KDP, Smashwords, Createspace, or Pubit, or you are published through a vanity press where you retain your rights and remain autonomous, you can enter your book in the Best Indie Book Award™ contest.

    Not Acceptable: Your book is published by major publishers, such as HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster. Penguin, or any other major publisher and you have a contract where you do NOT have full publishing rights.

  12. I Live Outside The United States, Can I Still Enter?

    Yes!  BIBA® (Best Indie Book Award®) is an international competition open to authors all over the world.  But books must be written in English.

  13. Literary Categories To Be Judged:

    Children’s Middle Grade/Tween
    Christian (Fiction/Non-Fiction)
    Historical Fiction
    Mainstream/Non-Genre/Literary Fiction
    Mystery/Cozy Mystery
    Other Fiction
    Short Story Collection/Poetry Collection
    Young Adult
    Non-Fiction> Academics/Teaching
    Non-Fiction> Biography
    Non-Fiction> Business/Investing/Marketing
    Non-Fiction> Cooking/Cookbook/Gardening
    Non-Fiction> Crafting/Hobbies/How-To
    Non-Fiction> Health/Fitness
    Non-Fiction> History
    Non-Fiction> Inspirational/Motivational
    Non-Fiction> Memoir
    Non-Fiction> New Age/Metaphysical/Visionary
    Non-Fiction> Parenting/Pregnancy
    Non-Fiction> Philosophy
    Non-Fiction> Politics/Economics/Sociology
    Non-Fiction> Psychology/Grieving/Caregiving
    Non-Fiction> Religion/Spiritual
    Non-Fiction> Self Help
    Non-Fiction> Travel
    *We do not have a category for erotica.

  14. Can I Enter More Than One Book?

    You may enter more than one book in the contest, but each entry must be accompanied by the entry fee. 
    *Entry fees are non-refundable.

  15. Can I Enter The Same Book In More Than One Category?

    Yes. You may enter the book in multiple categories. There will be an extra fee for each additional category entered.

  16. Can I Enter The Same Book Two Years In A Row?

    Yes, you can enter as many subsequent years as you like, as long as the book was not previously picked as a Best Indie Book Award® winner. Your chances of winning change each year, depending on the books we receive in a given category for that year. We can never guarantee a win, but while your book may not win one year, that doesn’t mean it can’t win in a following year.

  17. Adding / Splitting Categories.

    Over time, we have expanded the contest to suit the needs of the authors entering. As we grow, the categories grow. So, you may see new categories in later years that were not available in the early years of BIBA. We may add categories at any time. In the event of a category having a large number of entries in a given year, we may also split categories to give entrants a better chance.

    When we receive a high number of well-written mixed entries in a combined category, we will split that category for that given year and award a winner in each respective category. (For example, if we receive a high number of fantasy books and a high number of paranormal books in the Fantasy/Paranormal category, we will split the category into a Fantasy Category and a Paranormal category to give the authors a better chance.

  18. How The Non-Fiction Category Works

    We maintain the Non-Fiction category as a stand-alone category for general non-fiction. But each year, as we receive entries and evaluate them, we divide the Non-Fiction category into sub-categories. We can divide into several categories every year depending on how many entries we receive and what the sub-category will bear. For example, if we see several entries in the Non-Fiction category that fall under a science sub-category, and the writing is very strong, we add science to the categories for that particular year, while still maintaining the General Non-Fiction category.

    Dividing Non-Fiction into more specific categories throughout the year allows authors more opportunity within the Best Indie Book Award® contest. This can encompass several non-fiction categories that are not listed on the entry form. Likewise, we do the same in other multi-genre categories available within the contest. Once the award winners have been chosen and we roll into the new contest year, we will once again open just the categories already listed on the entry form, and the process starts all over again. We open sub-categories every year depending on what type of entries we are receiving in the Non-Fiction category. Again, this is true of all the multi-genre categories, such as Science Fiction/Dystopian and Fantasy/Paranormal.

  19. How Will Books Be Judged?

    Entries will be judged based on multiple writing skills, which include story-telling ability, author’s ability to engage the reader, transitions, hooks, pacing, movement of the story, and author’s skill with voice, character, dialogue, narrative, grammar and punctuation.

  20. How Can You Judge A Contest So Quickly?  Submissions Close Sept 1st And You Announce Winners By November 30th.

    We are often asked by authors if we have late entry options, so we chose to keep the contest open as late as possible for authors finishing new projects who may want to enter in that given year. This is not uncommon with contests.  But it’s also not easy on the contest owners, coordinators and judges, as it intensifies the work required to choose the winner.  As for judging quickly, there is nothing quick about the judging process.  In fact, the judging process is very intense.

    We begin judging as soon as we begin taking entries, and the judging process has multiple stages.  There are three major judging tiers in the BIBA contest, followed by an intense finalist round that has several phases.  For example, an author enters his book.  It is immediately positioned in the category entered.  Within a few days, the coordinators look at the book to determine if the category entered is appropriate for the book.  (Sometimes we recommend that an author change the category to give them the best chance.)  Then we read the first ten to twenty pages to determine if the writer can open a story with the proper hooks.  This is Tier One of judging.  If the author passes the first tier of judging, the author moves to Tier Two, at which point the judges are looking more critically at the way the author handles narrative, dialogue, and pacing.  And so on up through Tier Three.  But in Tier Three, now the author is being pitted against other authors.  In the first two tiers, the author is really only competing with him/herself.  By Tier Three, your book has gone through some intense evaluation AND has oftentimes been heatedly debated by judges.  Pat yourself on the back and treat yourself to a good dinner out.

    In the finals, the going gets even tougher for the authors, as they are then being stacked against other authors who have passed the first three tiers of the contest.  We may have thirty books in any given category in the First Finals Phase.  If you make it to the first round of finals, you are doing an awesome job. But then those finalists must be reduced down to just five, which is a major undertaking in itself.  At this point, judges begin reading with the intent of reading the full manuscript.  You can bet that by the time an author gets to the Mid-Finals, their novel is being read in its entirety.  Each tier, and how well an author passes all the checklists, determines how much of the manuscript is read. This is much like the role of an editor at a major publishing house.  Editors do not read a manuscript entirely before making a decision about how good the author is at their craft.  Likewise, no major contest can read every entry in its entirety in any given year of a contest, because there simply is not enough manpower to do so, and the entry fee would be astronomical.

    It doesn’t matter at what point in the year you enter the contest, your book will go through the same exact judging process.  And that, folks, is how our contest works.  Not quick at all.

  21. What Do You Mean By Chapter-By-Chapter Outline?

    A chapter-by-chapter outline helps the judges quite a bit in the lower rounds of judging, and therefore, it can be helpful in moving your book forward in the contest. But before you submit a chapter-by-chapter outline with your contest entry, please research how to write a really strong outline. Do not submit a regurgitation of chapter headers or one-liners. Do not submit the table of contents. If you really want to boost your chances, write a mini synopsis of each chapter. This means that the judges want to know how the story is moving forward throughout. This is not the time to be coy about action and plot lines. It is not the back cover blurb teaser. You want to tell the judge exactly what is happening in each chapter, as briefly and concisely as you can.

    Chapter One: Bob is captured by the mafia hitman Gaspar Peretti and taken to a vacant warehouse in the Bronx, where he is beaten and tortured until he tells Peretti who else stole the game money.

    Chapter Two: Bob manages to escape the warehouse and hightails it to a friend’s apartment. The friend gives him money and a fake passport then gives him instructions to meet up with a fisherman who smuggles him out of the city on his shrimp boat. ( And so on.)

  22. When Will Winners Be Announced?

    Winners will be announced by November 30th of each year.

  23. Can An Author Enter On Behalf Of Their Cover Artist Or Illustrator?

    Authors can enter the BIBA® Book Cover or Illustrations Contest for their illustrator or book cover artists, but be aware that:

     If the author of the book submits an entry and payment for the BIBA® Cover Contest and happens to be the winner in that year, the author (payer) receives the trophy.  But we must have the cover artist’s professional name to list on our website, so make sure you fill out that field on the form. Likewise for the BIBA® Illustrations Contest. 

    If the cover artist or designer or the book illustrator submits the entry and payment for the BIBA® Cover Contest and happens to be the winner in that year, the artist (payer), receives the trophy.  Likewise for the BIBA® Illustrations Contest.

  24. What Do The Winners Receive?

    There will be one winner for each category.
    Each winner will receive:
    A Physical Trophy.
    A digital Winner’s Emblem to use on your cover, website, social profile, and in promotions.
    Front Page Exposure for at least one year on
    Permanent Exposure of your book via listing on
    Permanent Book Page on with links to where the book is available for sale.
    Ongoing Promotion of the winning book through social media, print advertising, online advertising, email lists, and more. (100,000+ followers)
    Added to the BIBA® Winners list on Goodreads.
    Custom Promotional Images of your book for you to use.
    Promotion across multiple websites.

  25. How Do I Send My Book?

    You simply upload your full book on the entry form. If you have any problem uploading your file, you can submit the form without it and then email the file, including the name of the book and author to (If your file is too large to email, you can use a free Dropbox account and send a link to

  26. Can I Send A Watermarked Copy Of My Book?

    We don’t say absolutely not, but we do encourage you to consider just how many titles our judges are evaluating within a given contest year.  Watermarks cause more eye strain issues, so we don’t like to see them in the contest.  And after evaluating hundreds/thousands of books, a judge is definitely not going to want to see that watermarked copy.

  27. What Is The BIBA Book of the Year Cash Prize Award?

    When you enter the BIBA contest, if you win in any category, your book will automatically be entered into the BIBA Book of the Year competition.  Each year, irrespective of category or whether or not the book is fiction or non-fiction, BIBA judges will select one Book of the Year from the winning authors’ pool.  In addition to the BIBA trophy for the category won, this single BIBA Book of the Year winner will also receive the BIBA Book of the Year $500 (USD) cash prize. This cash prize is paid out via Paypal. But again, only one winner per year is chosen from all the BIBA winners in that contest year.

The Best Indie Book Award® has been mentioned by many best-selling authors and on many author-related websites and blogs. Previous winners include USA Today and New York Times best-selling authors, movie producers, actors, and independent authors from around the globe.

Books must be submitted in English, but submissions are not limited to authors in the United States. Previous winners have come from countries all over the world, including Japan, Israel, Spain, Canada, and the United Kingdom.