We are excited to finally declare

Congratulations Finalists!

The 2020 Midwest Book Awards initial tallies are complete. Thanks to the efforts of our 99 volunteer judges, we’ve narrowed the hundreds of entries for this year’s award to these 88 finalists across 31 categories.

Please join us in congratulating these finalists June 27 at 7 PM (Central Time) for the Midwest Book Awards‘ facebook live watch party, and the announcement of the 31 winners of the 30th Annual Midwest Book Awards.

Arts/Photography/Coffee Table Books


  • Saint Paul Almanac (Arcata Press)
  • Guardians of Detroit: Architectural Sculpture in the Motor City by Jeff Morrison (Wayne State University Press)
  • Tulips, Chocolate & Silk by Marguerite Ragnow and Natasha D’Schommer (James Ford Bell Library)



  • Tucker Lake Chronicle by Joan Crosby (Nodin Press)
  • The Color of Love by Marra B. Gad (Agate Bolden)
  • Rebel Poet by Louis V. Clark III (Wisconsin Historical Society Press)



  • Ridge Stories by Gary Jones (Wisconsin Historical Society Press)
  • The Question is “Why?” by Eric Steven Zimmer (Vantage Point Press)
  • Roses of the Prairie by Lawayne Leno (Beaver’s Pond Press)



  • Soar: Indie Author Business Planner by Delia Remington (Eagle Heights Press)
  • Measure Their Feet by John Schuler (Nodin Press)
  • Let Me In by Elaine Koyama (Beaver’s Pond Press)



  • Raising Will by Katherine Quie (Wise Ink Creative Publishing)
  • Lisa Murphy on Being Child Centered by Lisa Murphy (Redleaf Press)
  • Acting Out! Avoid Behavior Challenges with Active Learning Games and Activities by Rae Pica (Redleaf Press)



  • Raising Will by Katherine Quie (Wise Ink Creative Publishing)
  • Facing Cancer as a Friend by Heather Erickson (Connected to the Vine Publishing)
  • #Lookup: A Parenting Guide to Screen Use by Judy Stoffel (Wise Ink Creative Publishing)



  • Esther’s Gragger by Martha Simpson (Wisdom Tales Press)
  • A Letter from Saint Nicholas by Jay Hornbacher (Beaver’s Pond Press)
  • New Moon’s Family by Erika Adams (Beaver’s Pond Press)



  • What Haunts Us by Loren Niemi (Moonfire Publishing)
  • Gardeners of the Universe by Ronald Peterson (PTB Books)
  • Wireless and More Steam-Powered Adventures by Alex Acks (Queen of Swords Press)
  • The Traveling Triple-C Incorporeal Circus by Alanna McFall (Atthis Arts)



  • The Light from the Dark Side of the Moon by Norman Gautreau (Amphorae Publishing)
  • Beneath the Flames by Gregory Lee Rentz (Three Towers Press)
  • Irreversible Things by Lisa Van Orman Hadley (Howling Bird Press)



  • Death Spoke by Leonard Krishtalka (Anamcara Press)
  • Looking for Garbo by John James Miller (Amphorae Publishing)
  • Figure Eight: A Northern Lakes Mystery by Jeff Nania (Little Creek Press)


  • Last Call by Frank Weber (North Star Press)

Fiction—Short Story/Anthology


  • Shades: Detroit Love Stories by Esperanza Cintron (Wayne State University Press)
  • Unblinking by Lisa Lenzo (Wayne State University Press)
  • Dark Conjurings: A Short Fiction Horror Anthology by Delia Remington (Eagle Heights Press)
  • On the Banks of the River Sarayu by Bharati Sen (Amphorae Publishing)

Fiction—Young Adult

  • Cady and the Bear Necklace by Ann Dallman (Henschel Haus)



  • The Healing Nature Trail by Tamarack Song (Snow Wolf Publishing)
  • Not Another Breastfeeding Book by Chelsie Knight (Beaver’s Pond Press)
  • Facing Cancer as a Friend by Heather Erickson (Connected to the Vine Publishing)
  • Truthspeaking by Tamarack Song (Snow Wolf Publishing)



  • The Interior Borderlands by Jon Lauck (Center for Western Studies)
  • Spirit of the Indian Warrior by Michael Fitzgerald (World Wisdom)



  • Wisconsin Post Office Murals by David W. Gates Jr. (Post Office Fans)
  • Ensemble: An Oral History of Chicago Theater by Mark Larson (Agate Midway)
  • Stringing Rosaries by Denise Lajimodiere (North Dakota State University Press)



  • Astonishing Tales by Matt Geiger (Henschel Haus)
  • Tales from the Beach House by James Aylott (Beautiful Arch)
  • The Crooked Lake Chronicles by Mike Lein (Jackpine Writers Bloc)



  • Wonder-Full: Activate Your Inner Superpowers by Kelly Radi (Beaver’s Pond Press)
  • Survivor’s Obligation: Navigating an Intentional Life by Chris Stricklin and Joel Neeb (Elva Resa Publishing)
  • Facing Cancer as a Friend by Heather Erickson (Connected to the Vine Publishing)



  • The Healing Nature Trail by Tamarack Song (Snow Wolf Publishing)
  • One Size Fits None by Stephanie Anderson (University of Nebraska Press)
  • For Love of a River: The Minnesota by Darby Nelson (Beaver’s Pond Press)



  • Sport: Ship of the Great Lakes by Pamela Cameron (Wisconsin Historical Society Press)
  • Hildegard of Bingen by Demi (Wisdom Tales Press)
  • Hugh Armstrong Robinson: The Story of Flying Lucky 13 by Billie Holladay Skelley (Amphorae / Goldminds Publishing)

Picture Books—Children’s


  • Esther’s Gragger by Martha Simpson (Wisdom Tales Press)
  • Hundredth Day Disaster by Bridget Reistad (Beaver’s Pond Press)
  • Fly-in to the Boonies by Bob Allen (Beaver’s Pond Press)
  • New Moon’s Family by Erika Adams (Beaver’s Pond Press)



  • Hitman-Baker-Casketmaker by Klecko (Paris Morning Publications)
  • Native Species by Todd Davis (Michigan State University Press)
  • Teacher/Pizza Guy by Jeff Kass (Wayne State University Press)



  • An Hour From Now by Lavnie Allmann (Nodin Press)
  • Native Species by Todd Davis (Michigan State University Press)
  • Hunter’s Log: Volumes II & III by Timothy Murphy (North Dakota State University Press)



  • Dear Descendent by Carol Masters (Nodin Press)
  • Animal/Flame by Michelle Lewis (Conduit Books & Ephemera)



  • Dairylandia by Steve Hannah (University of Wisconsin Press)
  • Changing Places by Jeff Appelquist



  • Wormwood and Gall by RW Holmen
  • Still by Rebecca Bender (North Dakota State University Press)
  • Esoterism as Principle and as Way by Frithjof Schuon (World Wisdom)

Social Science/Political Science/Culture


  • Stringing Rosaries by Denise Lajimodiere (North Dakota State University Press)
  • Proxmire: Bulldog of the Senate by Jonathan Kasparek (Wisconsin Historical Society Press)
  • We’ve Been Here All Along by R. Richard Wagner (Wisconsin Historical Society Press)


  • Fly-in to the Boonies by Bob Allen (Beaver’s Pond Press) Designer: Erin Boe

Design—Cover Design


  • Stringing Rosaries by Denise Lajimodiere (North Dakota State University Press) Designer: Jamie Hohnadel Trosen
  • Irreversible Things by Lisa Van Orman Hadley (Howling Bird Press) Cover illustrator: Jonny VanOrman
  • Detroit: Engine of America by RJ King (Momentum Books) Cover art: Kevin Martin and Stephanie King

Design—Interior Design


  • Spirit of the Indian Warrior by Michael Fitzgerald (World Wisdom)
  • Sport: Ship of the Great Lakes by Pamela Cameron (Wisconsin Historical Society Press) Designer: Renee Graef
  • For Dear Life: Women’s Decriminalization and Human Rights by Carol Jacobsen (University of Michigan Press) Designers: Carol Jacobsen and Shaun Bangert

Design—Total Book Design


  • Saint Paul Almanac (Arcata Press)
  • Sneakyart of Eau Claire by Nishant Jain (Beaver’s Pond Press)
  • Stories from the Wreckage by John Odin Jensen (Wisconsin Historical Society Press) Designer: Percolator Graphic Design

Additional Details

Books are accepted for the annual Midwest Book Awards from any independent publisher in the 12-state Midwest region published during the 2019 calendar year. For each category, three judges independently score each entry in criteria relevant to that genre. Scores are tallied with the top three books (four, if a tie) above a minimum threshold named as finalists. Winners in each category will be announced during the live online awards gala, and on social media during the event.

Follow the Midwest Book Awards on facebook for more information and news.

Thanks to our sponsors

for helping to make the Midwest Book Awards possible





30th Annual Midwest Book Awards Gala goes Virtual.

We’re working to make a video premiere of the gala to watch together online at the same time the event was supposed to take place in Minneapolis on June 27. All are welcome! Please join the Facebook event page to receive updates. We’ll post more details here, too, including a link to the watch party, as we get closer to June 27.
Limited sponsor opportunities are still available. Email bookawards@mipa.org for more information.

Twitter: @MIPAbookawards (https://twitter.com/MIPABookAwards)
Instagram: @midwestbookawards (https://www.instagram.com/midwestbookawards/)
FB: @MIPAMidwestBookAwards (https://www.facebook.com/MIPAMidwestBookAwards)

Call for Entries

We will accept submissions of books copyrighted in 2020 between Aug. 2020-Dec 2020. Please check back for updated application and entry details.


Publishers based in the Midwest are invited to enter the 30th Annual Midwest Book Awards competition for excellence in books published in 2019. The awards recognize creativity in content and execution, overall book quality, and the book’s unique contribution to its subject area.

Who May Enter

  • All entries MUST carry a 2019 copyright and an ISBN. If an entry has a 2020 copyright date, documentation must be provided showing the book was released in 2019. There are no exceptions.
  • All entries must have a copyright page that includes publisher’s name and address, copyright notice, and ISBN.
  • New editions (including the new ISBN) of previously published books are eligible. Reprints do not qualify.
  • Entries must be published by publishers located in the 12-state region: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
  • A single title may be entered in up to three (3) categories. Only print books may be entered. No eBook or app submissions will be accepted.


Deadline for receipt of books and entry fees is December 31, 2019. There are absolutely no exceptions.

Awards & Benefits

  • Three (3) finalists are selected in each category. From those, one (1) winner is chosen. Finalists and award winners receive certificates and tickets to the Midwest Book Awards Gala. Winners will also each receive a bronze medallion.
  • Both finalists and winners may purchase foil seals for use in marketing efforts and will be featured in the Midwest Book Awards Gala Program, in MiPA press releases, and on the MiPA website.
  • Judges’ individual book evaluation sheets will be provided to all entrants after the awards are announced.
  • Award will be presented at the Midwest Book Awards Gala in 2020. More details to come.

Judging Criteria

Each entry will be judged by three independent judges. Finalists are determined by totaling the scores from all three judges. The winning entry is the title with the top score. The judges’ decisions are final. Please note: If the entries in a category do not meet the standards for quality as set by the Midwest Book Awards, no award will be given in that category for that year.

Judges will consider the following:

  • Content and quality of writing and images
  • Overall quality and creativity in book design and production
  • Originality and contribution to the subject area

See Judging tab for more information about judging criteria.

Questions: Contact Verlene Birger by email or call 605.366.9894.

Each entry will be judged by three independent judges. Judges’ individual book evaluation sheets will be provided to all entrants after the awards are announced. Judges assign a numerical score to each question. They are invited to—but not required to—offer additional comments, observations, and suggestions.

Numerical scores decide the finalists and winners. Comments are purely for the benefit of the publisher. One of the goals of MIPA is to help publishers produce quality books and learn best practices in the industry. We encourage you to look over the judging information listed below to get an idea of the areas on which your entry will be evaluated.

Subject Categories

The editorial criteria used for all subject category entries (fiction, nonfiction, and children’s/young adult) include the following questions:

Writing: Is the writing style engaging and the voice consistent? How well does the text follow generally accepted principles of good writing for the genre (i.e., clear sentence structure, use of active voice, strong vocabulary)?

Mechanics/Organization: Rate the mechanical correctness of the copy regarding grammar, spelling, punctuation. Is the content well organized and does it flow easily to allow comprehension and maintain interest (pace) by the intended reader audience?

Clarity/Storytelling: For fiction, is the plot engaging and original? Are characters appropriately developed? For nonfiction, is the information well presented and organized clearly? Is the topic compelling? For children’s books, is the story interesting and is the writing appropriate for the age level?

Production: Rate the production quality of the book (formatting, consistency in design, printing quality).

Overall Reaction: Rate your overall impression of the content and quality of the book.

Design Categories

The design criteria used for evaluating entries in cover design, interior design, illustration—graphic, and total book design include the following questions. These questions are fine-tuned for the specific category. For example, cover design judges will only receive questions pertaining to cover design.

Cover Appearance: Does the total cover design create interest—do you want to pick up the book and examine it more closely? Does the cover fit the genre? Are the photographs or illustrations appropriate, of good quality, and reproduced well? Does the choice of color on the cover stimulate interest and fit with the subject?

Cover Layout: Is the typeface attractive, readable, and appropriate for the subject matter? Does the organization of cover elements create a coherent look? Are front and spine copy legible in all formats (i.e., bookstore shelves and online thumbnails)?

Interior Appearance: Is the book layout (i.e., the organization of heads, subheads, indents, and breaks in copy) consistent and does it facilitate reading? Are font styles and typographic composition easy to read and complementary to each other?

Interior Layout: Are margins well spaced? Do the letter, line, and word spacing create a pleasing reading experience? Is the printing well done throughout and does the paper stock fit the book’s design? If there are illustrations or photographs in the interior, are they appropriate, of good quality, and reproduced well?

Overall Reaction: Rate your overall impression of the design of the book.

The publisher selects one or more categories in which to enter each book. A single title may be entered in up to three (3) categories. Only print books may be entered. No eBook or app submissions will be accepted.

Subject Categories

  • Arts/Photography/Coffee Table Books: Books about the graphic and performing arts, architecture, and photography. Coffee table books created for display that meld exemplary text, design, and artwork.
  • Autobiography/Memoir: Nonfiction and creative nonfiction about the author.
  • Biography: Nonfiction books about a current or historical figure (not the author).
  • Business: Business-related literature including commerce, career, computers, technology.
  • Children’s Fiction: Fiction books aimed at all reading levels to age twelve.
  • Children’s Nonfiction: Nonfiction books aimed at all reading levels to age twelve.
  • Children’s Picture Books: Books for children with a substantial amount of artwork.
  • Young Adult Fiction: Fiction, whether or not genre specific, aimed at the teen market.
  • Young Adult Nonfiction: Nonfiction, regardless of subject matter, aimed at the teen market.
  • Cookbooks/Crafts/Hobbies: Books on all cooking-related topics, crafts, and hobbies aimed at adults.
  • Education/Learning: Books aimed at adults on topics of education, including homeschooling.
  • Family/Parenting: Books aimed at adults on all aspects of family life, including parenting help, family dynamics, and multigeneration families.
  • Fiction — Fantasy/SciFi/Horror/Paranormal: Genre fiction with a fantasy, science fiction, horror, or paranormal theme.
  • Fiction — Literary/Contemporary/Historical: Fiction that focuses on character development, plot depth, and writing style as well as genre fiction with a historical theme and historical setting.
  • Fiction — Mystery/Thriller: Genre fiction with a suspense or mystery theme.
  • Fiction — Romance: Genre fiction with a romance theme.
  • Fiction — Short Story/Anthology: Collections of fiction by one or by multiple authors.
  • Health: Nonfiction books aimed at adults with topics related to health and healing, including physical and mental health, addiction, and alternative medicine.
  • History — General: Nonfiction books with subjects of a historical nature.
  • History — Regional: Nonfiction books with subjects of a historical nature, which focus on the Midwest region
  • Humor: Fiction and nonfiction books whose primary focus is humor.
  • Inspiration: Nonfiction books focused on personal development and improvement.
  • Nature: Nonfiction books relating to nature, ecology, and environment. May include essays on these topics.
  • Poetry—General: Poetic works, whether by one author or an anthology.
  • Poetry—Regional: Poetic works, whether by one author or an anthology, with a regional focus.
  • Poetry—Debut: Poetic works, whether by one author or an anthology, by a debut author.
  • Recreation/Sports/Travel: Nonfiction books with a sports, recreation, or travel theme, including travel guides and travel essays.
  • Religion/Philosophy: Nonfiction books encompassing all religions — Eastern, Western, and New Age — as well as philosophy.
  • Social Science/Political Science/Culture: Nonfiction books aimed at adults with an emphasis on the social sciences, political issues, current events, and cultural issues such as diversity, gender, sexuality, and aging.

Design Categories

  • Cover Design: Covers that are compelling, effective, and fit the topic and/or genre.
  • Interior Design: Overall interior book design and production that excels in quality.
  • Illustration — Graphic: Books with extensive interior artwork, not including photography. Usually entries in this category are children’s picture books.
  • Total Book Design: Total book design, including interior layout and cover design.

Questions? Midwest Book Awards Chair Verlene Birger can answer your questions and provide guidance if you are not sure how to choose the specific categories that could be appropriate for your book in the Midwest Book Awards program. Contact Verlene Birger by email or call 605-366-9894.

Dorothy Molstad Receives 2018 Pat Bell Award

Dorothy Molstad’s marketing and public relations talents won accolades at West Publishing and then Waldman House Press, where she got its best-selling PEEF the Christmas Bear book character into a movie and as a parade float. At Voyageur Press (Motorbooks International), the international publicity earned for its Snowflake books resulted in a feature story in Better Homes and Gardens, an appearance on the Martha Stewart Show, and even a US postage stamp.

As a private consultant she instituted the Author on the Rise program for Panera Bread and helped dozens of authors individually with signings, book tours, and radio and TV appearances. She taught media-training skills, marketing and PR techniques nationally and as a founding partner of Book Architects helped even more authors with their manuscripts and ideas on how to market their books.

She was on the board and president of Minnesota Book Publishers Roundtable and then on the board for many years and president of Midwest Independent Publishing Association (MiPA). In retirement, her volunteerism continues as chair of the Maplewood Parks and Rec Commission and visiting women’s shelters with her dog, Blue Velvet. She’s twice been named Volunteer of the Year by the Let’s Go Fishing program, which brings “nature’s healing and well-being to seniors, veterans, and the disabled.”

About the Pat Bell Award

pat-bellIn 2010, MiPA awarded the first Pat Bell Award in honor of a woman who, for many years, was the rock of the organization and a long-time board member. On the phone, by email, or during meetings, Pat Bell patiently answered the many questions posed by MiPA members and others curious about publishing. Pat Bell embraced the Internet early on, and soon her mentorship extended nationwide through chat rooms and user lists. Publishers Marketing Association (PMA) — now IBPA, Independent Book Publishers Association, a national organization of independent publishers—recognized her expertise. She was asked to serve on its board and became a major national advocate for independent publishers.

Past winners of the Pat Bell Award include:

  • 2010: Sybil Smith, leader in the development of Midwest Independent Publishers Association and Publisher, Smith House Press
  • 2011: Julie Arthur, longtime buyer for Barnes and Noble and advocate for Midwest writers
  • 2012: Mary Ann Grossmann,  book reviewer for St. Paul Pioneer Press and friend of Midwestern publishers and authors
  • 2013: Loris and Marlin Bree, charter members of MiPA, first chair of Midwest Book Awards, and passionate advocates for independent publishing
  • 2014: Patricia Rouner Morris, past president of MiPA, author, professional editor, and publishing consultant
  • 2015: Don Leeper, founder of Bookmobile and Itasca Books
  • 2016: Norton Stillman, founder of Micawber’s Bookstore and owner of Nodin Press
  • 2017: David Unowsky, founder of Hungry Mind Bookstore (later Ruminator,) and Hungry Mind Press