1. Purchase a copy of the Writer's Market Guide that is appropriate for you book. This is the best way to sort through the many awards available, as well as the periodicals that may be interested in reviewing your work.
Christian Writers' Market Guide 2011
2011 Children's Writer's And Illustrator's Market
2011 Novel And Short Story Writer's Market
2. Contact the magazines or periodicals that you read on a regular basis. If you write a book, particularly non-fiction, then it will likely relate to what you read. If you write a book on sewing, contact the various magazines that you follow and submit your work for review, awards, or the end of year best book lists that most publications use.
3. Beware of paying money for guaranteed positive reviews/awards. The gold medal may look great on your book and it may even help you sell a few copies. But, in the long run, awards of this type are empty and reflect poorly on the book. It is normal to pay an entry fee to submit your book, but any entry fees that also include positive reviews and endorsements should be avoided.
4. Few books are bought on the basis of an award unless it is a nationally recognized one. Don't be discouraged if your work does not receive awards right away. Remember that you don't have to win for your entry to be a success. If your book is in front of the right people at the right time, other avenues may open up.
5. Finally, if your book wins a prestigious award, advertise it! Put out a second edition with the award displayed on your book cover. Typically the only awards that will help sell your book are established national awards (like the National Book Award) or niche awards that have been established already. Don't waste your time and money advertising anything else other than those types of awards. The truth is that nobody cares about any other awards.
Positive reviews, even by amateurs, are often more valuable than any book award. In the end, the only prize that really matters is determined by the consumer. When your audience loves your work it is more valuable than winning any contest will ever be.