The Book Competition That Keeps On Giving by Aviva Gittle

The Book Competition That Keeps On Giving Aviva Gittle, owner of Gittle Publishing, hosts a contest exclusively for self-published children’s picture books.

In 2013, I was a newly published author. Self-published. Many assumed that if an author self-published it was out of desperation. They figured you had enough rejection letters to wallpaper your bathroom. That you had your Aunt Mamie edit your manuscript. And, your illustrations were likely created by your 10-year-old. Why else would you self-publish?

The fact was, I never tried to get my work published. Although I did send a story, Chloe and The Belly Beast to an agent – a friend of my father’s – who in turn referred me to a children’s book agent. Never contacted her. Required writing a letter, buying a stamp, and placing it in the mailbox. This was the mid-1980s and there was no email. You had to work for it, baby. Lest I sound lazy, I was a single mother, working a full-time job and going to school. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

The main reason I decided to self-publish is that I would have full creative control. I had no idea what I was doing. But, as a former IT project lead, I had managed many technical projects where I had to learn things on the fly.

The hardest part of book publishing is – c’mon say it along with me – marketing. I needed reviews. Other than asking friends and family – I had no idea how to get them. One day, I stumbled across a group on called Paying It Forward. Mariana Llanos created the group to help self-published authors get reviews for their children’s books. It was not review swapping. You posted about your book and when (if) someone agreed to review it, you would commit to reviewing another author’s book.

Screen Shot 2017-07-16 at 10.47.22 PM

I reviewed a few books, including Mariana’s Tristan Wolf, and Gusty McCabe’s The Most Important Critter in the Whole Wide World. I found myself thinking about these stories long after I had read them. I realized I enjoyed them as much as the classics I recommended. Like Dr. Seuss and Maurice Sendak. It made me sad to know that very few readers would know about these wonderful books. I believed through cross-marketing indie authors could help each other. The Gittle List Contest was born. Now in its fifth year, The Gittle List continues to evolve. One thing that has yet to change: One Category. One Judge. Up To 10 Winners. The competition is only for self-published children’s picture books. I am the sole judge. Indie author of 17 books to date. Grandmother and lover of children’s picture books. A writer since the age of seven.


Originally, winners got the most attention. By the third year, I started giving entrants free book promotion by using their books covers in ads for The Gittle List contest. This could be a tweet, Facebook or LinkedIn post, Gittle News feature, press release, etc. Last year, I started creating videos. This year, I created a separate Facebook page and website dedicated to The Gittle List.

Facebook Contest link   Facebook Publishing Page


Indie authors enter the contest in the hopes of getting on The Gittle List and placing the award seal on their book. The entry fee is less than what most contests charge. What other contests don’t give entrants is free book promotion. And, winners are often promoted long after the contest ends. I’m still promoting winners from 2013. In fact, two winning books from that year are promoted in this very article.

If you’re self-published, don’t apologize. Be loud and proud. Those who make it on The Gittle List have a fan for life. And a 5-star verified-buyer Amazon review to prove it.

To learn more about The Gittle List Book Competition, see past winners, and view the current year’s submission guidelines, visit

Aviva Pub Photo (1)

Aviva Gittle admits she’s a bit of a late bloomer to the world of writing children’s books. In fact, it took her 18 years to publish her first children’s story, “Mort the Fly.” Once Mort took flight, so did Aviva’s passion and creativity. In the next four years, she published many children’s books. As the proud Grandma of bilingual grandchildren, most of Aviva’s books are available in English and Spanish. To see all of Aviva’s children’s books visit