A Brief Guide to Indian Literary Awards

For a writer, getting acknowledged for his or her efforts is the highest form of happiness. It not only promotes his literature on varied platforms, but also exposes the reader to a new world, one he may not have found otherwise. Literary awards highlight achievements in the literary field. For established writers, the sky is the limit. There are various felicitations offered by high-end awards such as the Booker prize, the Pulitzer Prize, Hugo award, Costa Book award, etc., but what about debutants or self-published authors whose voices are under the danger of going unheard in the horde of other well-known books. Every author needs a stepping-stone without which fall is imminent. Keeping the famed awards aside, there are various other platforms that strive to provide recognition to the author at the initial level, to help them get established, to further their work and inspire them not to give up.

The Hindu Literary Prize is one of the most respected prizes in the country. It was established in 2010 to commemorate 20 years of The Hindu Literary Review. It is open to all categories of fiction, nonfiction, translations from regional languages to English, and collections of short stories. The publisher, after confirming with the authors, can submit up to 5 books under the above-mentioned categories. The major condition is that the author has to be an Indian citizen. However, the award currently does not accept children’s books, Young Adult (YA) novels, self-published or electronically published books. One major drawback of the award is that it is only covered in The Hindu and its affiliates.

Prabha Khaitan Woman’s Voice Awards, popularly known as Woman’s Voice Awards, is a joint venture between Oxford Bookstore and the Prabha Khaitan Foundation to support creative writing by women in India. The award aims to bring forth the literary prowess of Indian female authors in all genres. However, the award only accepts either English works or works translated into English. Other, non-India awards that concentrate on women authors are Bailey’s Women’s Prize, Orange Prize, Women’s Prize etc. All of these are basically fiction category prizes.

Of all the authors present out there, self-published or independent authors face the most difficulty in getting recognition. Fret not, the literary world has come up with various awards especially for self-published authors to widen their reach and to provide discovery. The list includes The Indie Reader Discovery Award where every entry gets a written recognition by the jury that enables them to promote the book further. The Independent Publisher Book Award has 80 categories under which an author can submit the book. The judging criteria include first impression, design, originality, use of language and relevance. Other lesser known awards include The IPBA Benjamin Franklin Awards, The Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Award, Best Indie Book Award etc.

There are awards that include children’s books too, such as the Publishing Next Awards, Crossword Book Awards, Neev Children’s Book Awards and FICCI Publishing Award.

Every award has its own criteria for accepting books and that criteria keeps changing every year, depending on new developments in the literary world. The prize money, entry considerations, jury’s parameters, etc. also differ. Not all the awards will have an equal effect on the marketability of the book. It is up to the author to choose the best ones for his book, depending on the book itself. This requires a thorough research, careful scrutiny and diligent effort to select the suitable awards followed by enrolment and selection. An award can make or break the author’s spirit inwardly but for a passionate author, it’s just another stepping-stone. A book is an extremely subjective matter, and at the end of the day, the truth is reflected in the relationship between an author and his/her readers.

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