Frequently Asked Questions

(If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact us.)

When Is The Deadline For Entry?

Literary Contest: The 2020 Book submissions deadline is midnight on Nov 1st. (Eastern time.)

Book Cover Contest: The deadline for Cover submissions is midnight on Nov 30th. (Eastern time.)

Illustration Contest: The deadline for Illustration submissions is midnight on Nov 30th. (Eastern time.)

Will I Receive A Confirmation That I Entered?

Entrants receive a total of three confirmations: one from Paypal, one automated receipt from us, and one confirmation of your category and your book entry. The last one means that you are already in the pipeline for judging.

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.

What Formats Do You Accept?

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

What If I Don’t Have A Mobi, PDF, ePub, or Doc File?

We do not convert files for you, but you can get a mobi file of your book from Amazon KDP or Smashwords. See instructions for how to get files here. 

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.

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 after one year. We keep the file for one year in case the entrant has any questions.

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

No. We will accept any indie book published from 2015 up until the current date, but the book must be currently available to the public.

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.
  • Children’s books do not have a minimum word count.
  • Novellas/Short Story Collections should be between 7,500 and 45,000 words.
  • Poetry Collections should have no less than 50 pages.

Is There An Age Requirement To Enter?

All entrants must be 18 years old or older.

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. We have broadened the award to include books published by small, independent 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.
Any small publisher fitting the above criteria and is fully independent of any major corporation.

Acceptable Books: 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. We have broadened the award to include books published by small, independent presses. *No hardcore erotica.

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.

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


Literary Categories To Be Judged:

  1. Romance
  2. Science-Fiction/Dystopian
  3. Fantasy/Paranormal
  4. Action/Adventure
  5. Mystery/Cozy Mystery
  6. Suspense/Thriller
  7. Young Adult
  8. Mainstream/Non-Genre/General Fiction/Literary Fiction
  9. Novella
  10. Short Story Collection/Poetry Collection
  11. Children
  12. Children’s Middle Grade
  13. Historical Fiction
  14. Humor/Satire
  15. LGBTQ
  16. Memoir
  17. Occult/Horror
  18. Christian Fiction
  19. Christian Non-Fiction
  20. Non-Fiction
  21. Non-Fiction> Biography
  22. Non-Fiction> Self Help/Health
  23. Non-Fiction> Inspirational/Motivational
  24. Non-Fiction> New Age/Metaphysical/Visionary
  25. Non-Fiction> Religion/Spiritual
  26. Non-Fiction> Business/Investing/Marketing
  27. Non-Fiction> Cooking/Crafting/How-To
  28. Non-Fiction> Travel

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.

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.

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.

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 Health sub-category, and the writing is very strong, we add Health 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, such as Self-Help, Health, Business and Investing, or even Political subjects. 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 General Non-Fiction category, 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.

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 2019 that were not available in 2014. 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. Those new categories will only have winners from that point forward.

When we receive a high number of 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.

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, pacing, movement of the story, author’s skill with voice, character, dialogue, and narrative. Grammar skills will also be taken into consideration.

How Can You Judge A Contest So Quickly?  Submissions Close Nov 1st And You Announce Winners By December 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.

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.)

When Will Winners Be Announced?

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

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:

  • The Book Cover Contest trophies will be awarded to the cover designer, not the author.
  • The Illustration Contest trophies will be awarded to the cover Illustrator, not the author.

(Authors can proudly tout their book as winning a BIBA for best cover or illustration, but the physical trophy will go to the designer or illustrator.)

What Do The Winners Receive?

There will be one winner for each category.

Each winner will receive:

  • A custom, Physical Trophy displaying the Author, Illustrator, or Cover Designer’s Name and Book Title.
  • 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)
  • Five-Star rating on Goodreads.
  • Added to the BIBA Winners list on Goodreads.
  • Custom Promotional Images of your book for you to use.
  • Promotion across multiple websites.
BIBA Trophy
BIBA Trophy

How Do I Enter?

Complete the entry form and payment.

What is the Best Indie Book Award?

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

2018 Best Indie Book Award Winners

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.

* In rare cases, due to the high cost of shipping outside the United States, a physical award may not be shipped to a winner that lives outside the United States. We will, however, do all we can to ensure winners receive their trophy. In such instances, we will contact the winner to make arrangements for delivery. If no viable method of delivery is available, a certificate will be mailed in lieu of a trophy, and the winner will also receive the digital award emblem to use that all winners receive. To date; all of our winners have received the physical trophy.