Wednesday, February 09, 2011

The ACFW Genesis Contest

The ACFW Genesis Contest for Unpublished Writers is open! This is THE premier contest for writers of Christian Fiction. There are so many reasons to enter this contest, but I'll only list a few here:

  • For $35 you get a minimum of three critiques of your work by published or well-experienced and trained judges.
  • An objective evaluation of where your work is. The Genesis is a completely anonymous contest. The judges won't know whose entry they are judging, and you won't know the identity of your judge unless he/she chooses to reveal that information.
  • The opportunity to get your work in front of a stellar line up of final round judges if your entry should get that far. Agents and editors from the top agencies and publishing houses will be reading your work.
  • The chance to network with other writers. One of the greatest joys I received from the Genesis contest was meeting fellow finalists and making new friends. 
I entered the Genesis contest three times. Once, my work was so raw and new, I wasn't anywhere near the top entries. BUT, though I received mediocre-at-best scores, I did receive a TON of constructive criticism and help. I not only learned what I was doing wrong, but how to improve. Priceless. 

The next time I entered, I finaled in the Historical Fiction category, though I wasn't one of the top three.

The third time I entered, I finaled in two categories, finished third in the Historical Romance category and won the Lit category. (Interestingly enough, I didn't final with a third manuscript that year. The one that didn't final and the one that finished third in Historical Romance have gone on to be published. The lit story? Haven't worked on it since.)

Question for you: Have you ever entered a writing contest? What did you learn from the experience?

Also, if you are planning on entering the Genesis this year, PLEASE--for the sake of your category coordinators--get your entry in before February 15th. There is a LOGJAM the last weekend that the contest is open to entries, and if your entry gets eaten in cyberspace, or if there is a formatting problem with your entry, there might not be time to send it back to you to fix. If this is the case, the coordinator has no choice but to disqualify your entry. I'd HATE to see this happen to anyone.


  1. I'm a firm believer in contests. I never entered the Genesis, but I did send a whopping 47 entries to RWA-sponsored contests. In addition to lots of wonderful feedback, I ended up with an offer of representation from one of my final round judges, our awesome agent. =)

  2. I entered the Genesis twice. Never finaled, but got great feedback (well...mostly...but I won't go into that particular story).

  3. I love contests and would enter more if I could justify spending the money.
    I'm considering the Genesis. I've never entered before though. Hmm.

  4. Funny, I haven't blogged in awhile and just did today on this very same topic. Guess great minds think alike. :)

    I missed entering last year, but will again this year as I did for so many years in a row before. And, yes, I'll send it in by the 15th. Just waiting for a friend to finish editing it for Grammar.

  5. Keli, I just recently joined the RWA. (Actually, my publisher joined me up. :) ) 47 contest entries??? WOW! You could sit with the Seekerville girls!

    Katie, your story is so hilarious! I'm sure we'll be laughing about it next month. :)

    Jessica, bang for your buck, the Genesis is STELLAR. I would encourage anyone hoping to publish in the CBA to give it a try.

  6. Eileen! Long time!

    We were on the same wave-length today! I just commented on your blog, and here you were commenting on mine. :)

    Best wishes on your Genesis endeavor this year!

  7. I just saw an earlier comment that you just joined RWA! Yay! I love RWA. I've learned so much from the magazines (RWR), the national conference, and my local group. It's an amazing organization.

    I'm not entering the Genesis this year, but I did last year and got some interesting feedback. Good luck to everyone who enters!

  8. You are made of awesome, you know that?
    I entered last year only to be told by all three judges that I don't write Christian fiction. I may have known that going in, but I did like the attention. :) (I really didn't know that 100 percent).

  9. I'm feeling a bit too chicken to enter the Genesis contest. I've daydreamed about it though - one day... =)

  10. Jill, I'm looking forward to getting RWR. :)

    Tana, knowing what you Don't write is almost as important as knowing what you do. Hopefully you got some good feedback on your writing craft as a result of the Genesis. :)

    Lacie, it's hard to put your work out there, but it is sooooo necessary. Who better to have critique your work than judges whose only goal is to gently guide you and help your writing craft to grow? My first go at the Genesis was painful and educational and humbling and exhilerating and downright scary, but I learned soooo much. Maybe this isn't your year to enter the Genesis, but don't let fear be the only reason you don't. :)

  11. I guess the biggest thing to learn from writing contests--or writing in general, for that matter--is not to take myself too seriously. It's all subjective.

    Oh cool! The word verification says, "bless"--I was blessed by coming here :D

  12. I've entered a couple and really liked the experience...especially since I got first place in one. I think the feedback is invaluable and really helps us grow as writers.

    And did you say Feb. 15???? Seriously? I need a little more time!!!

  13. I will be entering Genesis for the first time this year. Looking forward to it.

  14. I've entered the Surrey Conference writing contest four times now and finalled three of them. Feedback isn't offered, but it feels like I must be on the right track just to final. I've been contemplating the Genesis but haven't moved on it yet. Not sure why but maybe am waiting for a heavenly nudge. :)