Every year, the Independent Publishers of New England runs its book awards program with the aim of recognizing some of the best in recent independent publishing. These are awards that serve the industry by rewarding publishers and authors for exemplary work and providing readers another means of navigating an increasingly noisy marketplace.

REGISTRATION IS OPEN

Registration Opens
1 Feb 2024

Registration Closes
20 April 2024

Registration Fee:
$65.00
Entry fee for one book.

Along with the personal satisfaction that comes with winning a respected book award, finalists enjoy many other benefits.

Taking high marks in this awards program is all about the quality of the work, and we celebrate that quality. Winners and finalists receive a digital certificate, a digital seal for the ebook cover, and a quote-worthy paragraph of judging praise. They are showcased on the IPNE website. And they are honored at the online awards ceremony, for an evening spent in celebration of these fine books — a high point for the year’s events. IPNE will also be sending out press releases to select organizations and media.

We care about helping books reach their intended audiences. About recognizing authors who’ve achieved excellence. About highlighting those books for readers.

How it works

We accept print books only. You needn’t be a member of IPNE to submit a book. You needn’t live in New England to submit a book. Your book can be author-published, hybrid-published, or traditionally published. We favor small presses, independent presses, university presses. You, the author, can submit it, or your publisher can. A key point is that its publication date must be 2022, 2023, or early 2024* before the submission period closes in April.

(* For a work of nonfiction published earlier, see also the details on the legacy series.)

To submit your book, register with the book’s details (author, publisher, publication date, page count, and so on, as specified in the form), pay the fee ($65), and then mail four print copies to the address you’ll receive with confirmation of registration.

We’ll match your book with three qualified judges drawn from our panel of literary scholars, authors, librarians, developmental editors, booksellers, and other qualified reviewers vetted and selected for this process.

Each book competes within its category, and also for the top prize as Book of the Year. The judging wraps up in late fall. The online awards ceremony follows in January, on the third Saturday. Mark your calendars!

The legacy series continues! This year, with nonfiction

This year, the legacy series will feature nonfiction backlist titles. If you have a nonfiction book published (even if this is not a first, but a subsequent, edition) from 2010 through 2021, you may submit this work as a work of legacy nonfiction.

If the book was published previously, this new version must represent a bona fide new or substantially revised edition. Not a reprint, a rerelease, or a republish. What constitutes a new or revised edition? Enough of a change to the contents so that it’s not quite the same book. Typically, this means significant rewriting and/or restructuring, new material added, outdated material removed, and so on. The book will also carry a new ISBN.

New fiction category

“The Rest of the Stories” is our working title for a new awards category that helps give all novels and short stories a more equal footing. Because fiction isn’t all about, delightful as these two are, genre or literary. There are whole other worlds out there, summoned up most beautifully on the page. Books that combine or cross genres in ways that extend beyond what’s typical (general, aka mainstream, fiction). Books that seem to have no genre at all, which just means they read like everyday life, really its own “genre” (contemporary fiction). Books with, as is sometimes said, “literary feel, but market appeal” (upmarket fiction).

These varieties can be difficult to pin down and the market categories certainly aren’t hard and fast. But “The Rest of the Stories” (or whatever we’ll call it) awards category enables books not strictly either genre or literary to find a competitive edge.

Category descriptions

Scroll down for descriptions of the standard awards categories.

Judging criteria

Our judges look at the whole book. Though the substance of the book is given the most weight, they consider as well how professional and to industry-standard is the outside (cover, front and back) and the inside (the book layout).

Here’s what to have ready for registration

Any major players on the project (designer, illustrator, editors), publisher info, publication date, ISBN. Page count, word count. The book description from the back cover. Your book’s Amazon URL and any other URLs you’d like to include. Other collateral, if you would like. (No book reviews, please!) Info on any potentially sensitive themes. And a high-res image of your book’s front cover.

Some of this information is important for the end game, should your book place or win. Some of it is so that we can better match your book to judges who best represent your target audience. Those are the reviewers you want. And some of it is so that we don’t give your book to anyone who’s worked on it. That would be a Bad, Bad Thing.

Questions?

Reach out to the IPNE book awards coordinator.

If you have a book with a publication date of 2022, 2023, or early 2024, you are eligible to enter the 11th Annual IPNE Book Awards. Scroll down for details on how to register and submit your book and for brief descriptions of the standard awards categories.

The fee is $65 per title.

How to register and submit your book

  • Review the info on this page. Feel free to raise any questions you have with the awards coordinator.
  • Have your book details and contact info (as outlined above) handy before you begin.
  • Click the Register button (towards the top of the page and left) to begin the registration process.
    You will fill out a form with the details you have ready.
  • Finish the registration process by submitting your payment online.
  • Look for and open the email confirming registration. The mailing address for your books is included.
  • Mail four copies of your print book to that mailing address.

 

Register your book in one of the following categories

INFORMATIONAL NONFICTION

Directories, travel guides, how-to, self-help, reference, etc.

Nonfiction that describes, explains, informs — teaches. From overview to in-depth study. From general to niche.

The writing may be straightforward, objective, neutral: “authorless.” Or it may take on more personality, more voice. There may even be narrative features, such as stories, folded within the work. The key is the goal — comprehension of a particular subject — and the organization. By topics, not chronology. By subject matter, not lived experience.

 

NARRATIVE NONFICTION

Biography, memoir, nonfiction that tells a story.

Nonfiction that tells a story, whether of a person, an event, a time period. Or that offers personal reflection. Or both.

Narrative nonfiction can incorporate investigative elements, research. And that information threaded into the story will deepen and enrich it, but narrative or reflection (or both) — that is, lived experience — forms the spine, drives the material.

Narrative nonfiction is a sprawling category, encompassing the many ways there are to tell, and reflect upon, true stories. It is eclectic, elastic. Sometimes novelistic, other times essayistic. Sometimes journalistic, sometimes personal.

LITERARY FICTION

Fiction that does not fit neatly into a category.

Literary fiction can be difficult to define. There are no typical worlds, no typical plot elements that chacterize it, and for that reason it can sometimes seem to be genre-less — most particularly for realistic stories set in a contemporary landscape. But literary fiction can approach any topic, take on any aspect, masquerade as something else.

This fiction is more about a quality: a concern with language, a focus on character. Where genre fiction will most typically explore how characters solve problems — it’s often this solution-finding that drives the story — literary fiction, by contrast, typically cares more about tracing the intricate swirls and eddies of character-in-crisis. This is one reason literary fiction tends to be less “pacey.”

GENRE FICTION

Mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, inspirational, etc.

Fiction that meets (or sometimes plays on) reader expectations for a certain recognizable category of story. Genres have one or more core features that serve as hallmarks for that genre, features that a story must incorporate to be of a particular genre. (For romance, for example, a happily-ever-after or a happily-for-now ending.)

A particular genre story can also—and to be successful ought to also—break with the more malleable conventions of the genre, surprising readers and reshaping expectations. Contemporary genre fiction often also incorporates features traditionally associated with literary fiction, such as fine language and nuanced characters.

THE REST OF THE STORIES

Something other than, or in between,
literary and genre.

For novels or short stories that do not fit neatly into either literary or genre. Books that combine or cross genres in ways that extend beyond what’s typical (general, aka mainstream, fiction), often reaching wider audiences. Books that seem to have no genre at all, that read like everyday life (contemporary fiction). Books with, as is sometimes said, “literary feel, but market appeal” (upmarket, aka book club, fiction).

These varieties can be difficult to pin down and the market categories certainly aren’t hard and fast. But this awards category enables fiction that’s not strictly either genre or literary to find a competitive edge.

POETRY

Expression in lines and stanzas.

The literary art that is most entwined with, that most accentuates, language. Its rhythm and cadence, its power, its delights. Alliteration, assonance, metaphor, and all the rest. Poetry is inseparable from the language it shapes and that shapes it.

Adult or YA works: If you have one long story told in verse, enter it instead as fiction or narrative nonfiction. By contrast, if you have a collection of poems, even if linked, then enter it as poetry.

Children’s works: If you have a children’s story in verse or a collection of poems for children, enter it as a children’s book. Here, the age group is most important.

YOUNG ADULT BOOKS

Fiction or nonfiction, for 12 and up.
(An age category, not a genre)

Young adult books can be of nearly any genre, any subject. It’s the treatment that differs, with the focus on teens and the particular challenges they face. The category is far from homogenous: there’s a world of change from 12 to 18. Books written for the younger of this range differ markedly from those written for the older.

YA works, particularly those for older teens, can have much the same content as fiction/nonfiction for adults. There are no real content restrictions. It’s how that content is handled that makes it YA.

Note: Young adult is not to be confused with middle grade.

CHILDREN’S BOOKS

Fiction or nonfiction, for 12 and under.
(An age category, not a genre)

Picture books (ages 3–8), early readers (ages 5–8), middle grade literature (ages 8 to 12). Although these very different sorts of books all compete with one another in this combined awards category, each is judged on its merits with respect to its own age group.

Children’s books can wander over various subjects, as appropriate for the age: content, treatment, and reading level are key.

Note: Middle grade is not to be confused with young adult.

Do you edit, review, or otherwise
evaluate books?

Have questions about the program
or process?

About the Independent Publishers of New England

The Independent Publishers of New England (IPNE) is an organization of authors, booksellers, and other book publishing professionals who collaborate to help each other learn and succeed in the independent book publishing field.

The Book Awards hosted by the Independent Publishers of New England continues to be a favorite of authors, author-publishers, university presses, and independent presses of all types. Winning a book award or being named a finalist not only brings with it a sense of personal validation but provides additional opportunities for promoting and marketing your book.

NOTICES

Depending on the number of submissions for a category, IPNE reserves the right to combine, divide, or otherwise modify the award categories. In the event that categories are added, consolidated, or eliminated, submission(s) will be judged in the categories most relevant. All entries will be held to basic publishing standards with respect to length and legibility. Entries that clearly violate such standards will be disqualified.

The book awards are coordinated and managed by a volunteer committee. All judging is undertaken by an independent panel of professionals. IPNE’s board of directors has no visibility into, nor is it directly involved with, any of the details or proceedings. The awards coordinator acts as liaison to the board around all things awards.