What Does it Take to Win a Business Book Award? Or any Non-Fiction Book Award for that Matter?

What Does it Take to Win a Business Book Award? Or any Non-Fiction Book Award for that Matter?

November 23, 2022

What Does it Take to Win a Business Book Award? Or any Non-Fiction Book Award for that Matter?  Here are some lessons from this year’s winners of the Australian Business Book Awards 2022.

Last night the 2022 Smart WFM Australian Business Book Awards ceremony was hosted by co-founders Andrew Griffiths and Michael Hanrahan of Publish Central. One of the intentions of the awards is to raise the quality of business books in Australia, and one of the beneficiaries of the not-for-profit awards – besides the authors and publishers who go through the process – is the Indigenous Literacy Foundation who received a $12,000 donation this year.

The ceremony was great, shining a light on Australian business books, authors and publishers who released high quality, professionally produced books with engaging writing, useful insights and eye-catching cover designs.

I loved being a book awards judge this year and being able to pore over a stack of books – it also really highlighted to me the vast differences in how a book impacts a reader and why.

If you’re planning on writing a business book, or any non-fiction book for that matter, keep in mind the following criteria that go into making a great book. One of the key ones for me is ‘originality of thought’. Many books just regurgitate known information or refer to well-known quotes and studies whereas books that cut-through have a unique voice, dive much deeper and reveal fresh insights and personal stories.

It doesn’t mean you need to target the mass market either, one of the little pearls I judged was Find, Build Sell: How I Turned a $100 Backyard Bar into a $100 Million Pub Empire by Stephen J. Hunt – sure, it wouldn’t be on my normal reading list, but I was captured by the spirit in which the book was written, the writing style and its usefulness for its target audience. It ended up being a finalist in the ‘Entrepreneurship & Small Business’ category – pipped by Secrets of a Superhost: How to become an Airbnb rockstar by Juls Rollick which went on to challenge for the Business Book of the Year!

When planning, writing and producing your book – the judging criteria for the Australian Business Book Awards show the key elements to pay attention to, whether entering a book award or not:

  • Subject expertise and insight
  • Suitability for target market
  • Quality of writing
  • Editing and proofreading
  • Cover design
  • Book structure
  • Originality of thought
  • Internal formatting
  • Print quality
  • Author bio
  • Title and sub-title

And if you do plan to enter a book award, be sure to enter the right category for your book.

The Australian Business Book Award’s categories for 2022 were:


  1. Entrepreneurship and Small Business
  2. Social Responsibility
  3. Personal Development
  4. Communication and Sales
  5. Personal Finance and Investment
  6. Management and HR
  7. Leadership
  8. Technology
  9. Health and Wellbeing
  10. General Business
  11. Best Cover Design
  12. Book of the Year

Sometimes if your book could fit easily into more than one category, it can pay to enter it in more than one.

This is what the winner of the overall Book of the Year, Money with Jess: Your Ultimate Guide to Household Budgeting by Jessica Irvine did – entering both the Personal Finance & Investment category, as well as the Personal Development category.

Of the many entries submitted to the Australian Business Book Awards, 118 books were shortlisted for judging and you can see a gallery showcase of the titles here.

The awards for best cover design are also a great example of the quality you want to aim for when producing your own book. The best book cover design winner was: What She Said: The Art of Inspiring Action Through Speech by Monica Lumin and the other finalists for best book cover were: The Plasticology Project: The Chilling Reality of Our Plastic Pollution Crisis and What We Can Do About It by Dr Paul Harvey and Killer Thinking: How To Turn Good Ideas into Brilliant Ones by Tim Duggan.

FYI: Not all book awards are created equal and some are outright scams so do your due diligence before paying to enter any. Good book awards won’t fleece you and will provide you with opportunities for publicity/marketing.

To see a full list of winners and finalists for 2022, head over to the SmartFM Business Book Awards site.  Hopefully seeing these winning books will give you some inspiration for your own book!

And if you need help planning, publishing and promoting your non-fiction book, definitely get your hands on a copy of Look – It’s Your Book! It will help you on your way to writing and publishing a book that will make the cut.

NB: There are affiliate links to books in this post, that means if you decide to buy them, I may receive a small commission which supports my writing and continued sharing of information on the writing, publishing and book industry. Cheers.