Thursday, March 19, 2009

What sets the Genesis contest apart

Camy here. As many of you know, I’m the head coordinator for the American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis contest for unpublished writers. I’ve coordinated the Genesis for 4 years now, and I love it.

Not only do I like interacting with writers, but I love having the ability to push a little further each year and make the Genesis one of the premier contests for Christian writers.

Here are some of the things that sets the Genesis apart from other writing contests.

1) The Genesis has more categories for Christian fiction than any other contest. We have nine categories right now:

Contemporary Fiction (anything non-romance)
Contemporary Romance (both single title and category length)
Historical Fiction (non-romance)
Historical Romance (both single title and category length)
Mystery/Suspense/Thriller (includes cozy mysteries, any non-romance suspenses, and all thrillers)
Romantic Suspense (both single title and category length)
Science Fiction/Fantasy/Speculative Fiction
Women’s Fiction (can have romance, but focused primarily on women’s issues)
Young Adult (both contemporary and fantasy settings)

2) The Genesis first round judges are all hand-selected and invited to judge. We do not allow just anyone to judge the Genesis. At least half of all our first round judges are published authors, and the rest are trained unpublished authors, many of whom have finaled in contests or have agents or both.

We also try to select judges who will give lots of feedback, both on the scoresheet and in the manuscript.

Why do we do this? Because we know that feedback is important to an entrant, and we do our best to ensure the Genesis contest judges give the best possible feedback. We also want the scoring to be as accurate as possible. We don’t want an unprofessional or inexperienced writer to give incorrect feedback or a skewed numerical score.

3) The Genesis Final round judges are all industry professionals, editors or agents or both. The first round judging determines five finalists in each category, and for the Final round, each finalist will have his/her entry seen and judged by editors and/or agents. All the Final round judges work specifically in the Christian publishing industry, and all are agents or editors who are actively acquiring clients or authors for their publishing house.

4) Each category has THREE Final round judges looking at the five finalists’ entries. Last year, we only had two Final round judges, but the Genesis reputation has grown so much that we had an overwhelming number of editors and agents who wanted to judge the Final round this year, and we increased it to three judges per category.

5) The Genesis is an all electronic files contest. No trees dying! No printing out pages! No copying your entry! No postage fees! The only thing you pay is the $35 entry fee.

6) The Genesis contest has a terrific reputation in the Christian publishing industry, and many entrants have received name recognition by editors and agents because of their final, placement, or win in the Genesis contest.

Here’s my own personal example: When I won the Mystery/Suspense/Thriller category (back then the contest was called the Noble Theme, and the name was changed the next year), it got the attention of a Steeple Hill editor (she wasn’t one of my judges, but she saw that I had won). I didn’t sell my first novel to her, but I kept up a professional acquaintance with her, and she later bought my romantic suspense novel, Deadly Intent, which is releasing this July.

So what are you waiting for? The deadline for the Genesis contest is MARCH 31ST, 2009! Get your entries in early, just in case something gets lost in cyberspace!

Here are links with more information on:
Genesis guidelines
Genesis Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Manuscript Formatting guidelines
Sample Manuscript (.pdf file download)
Sample Track Changes scored entry (.pdf file download)
Online entry form

Camy Tang writes romance with a kick of wasabi. Her novel Single Sashimi is out now, and she runs the Story Sensei critique service. In her spare time, she is a staff worker for her church youth group, and she leads one of the worship teams for Sunday service. On her blog, she gives away Christian novels every Monday and Thursday, and she ponders frivolous things. Sign up for her newsletter YahooGroup for monthly giveaways!


  1. Camy,

    Thanks for the details on the Genesis and for explaining how it helped you in your career.


  2. Camy, you can be so proud of the Genesis! What a great opportunity for unpublished writers to make a name for themselves and maybe even sell! Head coordinator is a huge job. Thanks!!

    If you're unpubbed and haven't entered, get a move on!!


  3. Hi Camy,
    Thanks for all your hard work on the Genesis. I coordinated the published Maggies for a few years and know the amount of time and effort a contest involves. And the Genesis is so BIG!!!

    Good luck to all those who enter.

    BTW, contests allowed me to attract the attention of three editors at Steeple Hill, which led to my first sale.

  4. I'm glad you posted about the amount of judges, their experience, etc. I wasn't going to enter since it's only the first 15 pages, but now I think you may have changed my mind. LOL
    Thanks Camy!

  5. Camy -- I remember for me, the Genesis (then the Noble Theme) was THE contest I wanted to enter/final/win in (other than the Golden Heart) because it was the ONLY strictly Inspy contest out there, and there is something really gratifying to compete/final with your peers -- fellow Christian writers for whom God was paramount in their writing. It gave me shivers of excitement back then when I would final/win, and it still does today for those who are privileged enough to enter.

    God bless each and every entrant!

  6. Thanks Camy for the info and the reminder that we only have a few more days to enter.

    Hey, I have some coffee percolating. and some hot cross buns coming out of the oven. That will tide you over until Ruthy gets here.

  7. Okay, Camy. I saved the rest of my questions for today. :)

    I was going to seek input as to which category my submission belongs in because the descriptions on the Genesis site were a bit fuzzy for me but the way you described them here pretty much cleared that up for me.

    That only leaves two minor technical questions:

    1) The chapter and synopsis go in the same file. So should they share the same heading, such that the synopsis, if at the end, is page number 16?

    2) (Asking for another writer who didn't quite get an answer from the ACFW loop) After running the spelling/grammar check, all the squiggly lines are eliminated. However, when the judges open the file, I assume the lines return. Is there a way to permanently get rid of them? Do they care?

    Still fine-tuning that one page (one?) synopsis...

  8. Tina, they're the red and green lines that show up in MS Word if you have automatic spell/grammar checking on.

    Never thought about it until I heard the question but then I thought, Geez, I sure wouldn't want to the judge to open up my doc if I have a bunch of lines, even if no changes required.

    Probably being a bit too...

    It's okay. You can tell me. :)

  9. Don't cute Amer/Asian girls eat???

    Oh mylanta, Sandra, thank you for supplying the coffee. Gimme.





    Genesis/Noble theme.

    I was honored to come in second to that stinker Cheryl Wyatt in the contemp romance category...

    And I kicked some serious butt by coming in first in the mainstream fiction category. That was a surprise and delight. And while I'm still waiting on that first contract, I hold the Genesis and its connections in Christian fiction in the highest regard.

    And we Seekers had a rollicking good time, too!

    Thanks for all the hard work, Camster. Great job.

    And Patricia darling, dear-heart, Genesis judges actually employ a 'connect-the-dots' kind of game with those squiggles. Your entry is guaranteed to final if your squiggles form some sort of ancient Christian symbol when connected by red pen.


    Work on that, won't you, dear?


  10. And I was hoping that Ruthy was somehow otherwise engaged today. Just for today...

  11. The Genesis contest is by far the best one that I've ever entered. Thank you, Camy, for providing details so that more writers can participate.

  12. Thanks for all your work, Camy! I am grateful for this contest and all of the opportunities it provides, especially all of the feedback from the judges! Thank you to all you judges too!

  13. Yay for the Genesis contest! And yay for Camy for heading it up. The contest continues to improve every year, and that's saying something as it is already the best out there for Christian Fiction.

    Editors and agents are watching and making notes of finalists and winners.

    Last year after the winners were announced, I had an agent from a top publishing house come up to me in the throng of boisterous, happy, very loudly laughing and chatting authors and shake my hand and ask if I remembered HER from our appointment at the conference a year ago. How cool is that?

    Of course I was my usual suave and sophisticated self. I replied...UH, um..yeah!

    (Insert smacking forehead here)

    Anyway, if you haven't entered the Genesis yet, what are you waiting for? Hie thee to thine laptop and get busy!

  14. Great job Camy!

    The Genesis is gaining big time acclaim in the industry. We now have many pub houses entering their authors. And many organizations such as CBA have taken notice and voiced interest in partnering with ACFW to showcase our awards.

    So thanks everyone for supporting this contest by entering, judging, category coordinating, etc.


  15. Ha ha ha ha...Ruthy, otherwise engaged. You are such a dreamer.

    Ruthy, lives to torment us. You should see her carrot cake. Pure torture.

  16. Okay Patricia I went under the help menu. After you have your msc just the way you want it do this:

    This is verbatim from the help menu ( I put in hide wavy lines)

    You can show or hide the wavy underlines that appear when you automatically check spelling and grammar, or when you automatically check formatting consistency.

    Spelling and grammar

    On the Tools menu, click Options, and then click the Spelling & Grammar tab.

    Select or clear the Hide spelling errors in this document or Hide grammatical errors in this document check box.

  17. Hi, Camy:

    I really appreciate that you try and get judges who will provide feedback. That aspect alone is the most important to me in entering. Without comments that provide some level of direction, the score is really useless to a writer trying to improve.

    I wonder, have you ever considered providing a score sheet for the submitters to evaluate how helpful the judges were in their commenting?

    I've received various levels of help through the judges comments in the past. Some I think deserve an award for helping so much, and others who don't comment at all but a generic line in the Strenghs/Weaknesses portion seems to prove to be a waste of time for the judge and me.

    It'd be nice to have the opportunity to recognize the ones who go above and beyond more publicly than just the individual thank you notes I send out.

  18. See, I'd been thinking that Mindy asked me to judge because she knew I was SuperChick!!!

    Like, a trained contest judge who gives, like, lots of feedback? What's, like, with that?

    Now I'm off to Ruthy's house for some of that carrot cake Tina mentioned. I bet it has a heaping helping of cream cheese frosting.

  19. One of the things I appreciate as a Genesis judge is that Camy wrote an amazing Judge's Tip Sheet.

    I also like that the contest has a balanced scoresheet.

  20. Isn't Tina posting tomorrow about pimping your contest entry?

  21. Is she? Oh dear. Perhaps my questions are better saved for then.

    But I'm traveling tomorrow, not back before Mon, maybe Tuesday, and I'm trying not to wait until the very last minute to finish this thing and get it submitted. You understand, don't you, ladies?

    One more question and I'm done. (Definitely a "pimping" question.) In the synopsis, do I capitalize the character names?

    No more questions of this nature. I promise. For the same reasons Julie and others mentioned--only INSPY contest, qualified feedback, etc., this one is special.

  22. Are you SERIOUS, Patricia. Do we understand? I don't ever part with my money until the VERY last minute.

    Yes, tomorrow we are pimping.

    "In the synopsis, do I capitalize the character names?" Like all caps? I'm sure no one will count you off for this, but why would you do this? Not sure the benefit here.

    Frankly if I can read a synopsis mine or someone else's and get through it without being nauseated or dizzy I say WELL DONE!!

  23. I am concerned that Gina remembered I am pimping tomorrow.

  24. Thanks, Tina. People tell you the strangest things, which is why I find it better to ask, and maybe look a little silly, than assume.

    Appreciate it, all. I'm finishing up my submission tonight, letting it rest for a day or two, and submitting.

  25. Argh. I was waffling on entering the Genesis and now I have to rethink things. (Only because I'd have to join ACFW, which I want to do, but...)

    Thank you for all this info, Camy! I didn't realize the Genesis was as big as it is, and drawing the attention that it is. (yes, sometimes I live under a rock, and the rock is covered with lounging kids. LoL)

    And I remembered tomorrow is pimping day! I'll be here!!

  26. Overall this week, the Seekers scored a hat trick with all the good columns.

    I like the Genesis contest best because of the feedback.

  27. Hey everybody! I'm glad this post was helpful. If anyone has any other questions, just ask!

    Patricia, yes, your synopsis would be page 16. And looks like Tina answered on how to eliminate the grammar/spelling check lines. Although to be honest, it doesn't really matter to the judges if the spell check lines are there or not.

    As for names in all caps, that's an old technique that isn't used much anymore, but you can still do it (only for the first time you mention the character, not for every time the name comes up). It highlights the main characters' names for the judges.

    And Ruthy, I didn't mention food because (a) you probably wouldn't like my weird Asian food, and (b) I'm trying to lose weight, woman! Whadya go mention your mouthwatering carrot cake to me????

    Erica, I didn't know that story! That's totally cool!

    Eileen, if you want to provide feedback for your judges, simply email me after you get your scoresheets back. All info is confidential and helps me to determine who to ask to judge the following year.

    Patty, I totally think it's worth it to join ACFW, not only for the Genesis contest. Our email loop is really helpful and a very friendly place, and I adore the archived online workshops that you can read through. They're a terrific resource.


  28. Oh, and feel free to continue to ask questions. Did I already say that?

  29. I know the feeling, Patty. Fee and dues are a double whammy but WOWZA what a judging line up this year.

  30. Thanks, Camy. Hit the wall, the one that screams "LEAVE IT ALONE!" I'm done. I'll submit tomorrow.

  31. Tina, darling, if there's a pimp I'm there.

    After all, someone does need to smack him over the head with God's word...I mean, nicely share the love of Jesus with him

  32. Camy, the Genesis just gets better and more prestigious every year. You are doing an excellent job as coordinator!

    Wow--THREE finals judges??? And they're ASKING to be asked to judge? That's terrific! What a great opportunity for the finalists!

  33. Thank you, Camy, for all your hard work! I've never coordinated a contest, but I know it's got to be mind-boggling!

    My favorite two things about the Genesis contest is that it's all electronic, and that it has so many categories.

    What fun!

  34. Quit drooling, Myra! You are not eligible any more. And neither is Glynna...hmmm....

    Unpubbed contests are sounding better and better.

  35. Very informative, Camy! I hope tons of our readers enter!


  36. By the way, I don't think I ever entered the Genesis (or Noble Theme). I was kind of a latecomer to ACFW. But I have judged it!


  37. LOL, Pam, it's such a relief to have a whole year off from ANY kind of contest eligibility!

    Here's a question for the Camster: Have you kept records on how many finalists get requests from their finals judge(s) and how many go on to get contracts (or agents) as a direct result of that specific entry? (And if so, are you at liberty to divulge?)

  38. Myra, we did try to keep track of that. I think we had something like 5 requests last year, but I don't know if any of them resulted in publication/representation. I do know that several agents/ editors really want to judge the Genesis because of the high quality of the finalists that they see!

  39. I just talked with my hero. It didn't even take him two seconds to decide. So, I'll be there. You ladies are so very persuasive! LoL

  40. I already sent my entries in. So I can't pimp them. Bummer.

    I'll just have to cross my fingers or eyes or something.

    I've done okay in the past but the last two years not as well. Maybe this year will be better.

  41. We all need, a hem, a prod such as a good contest. This year is to soon for me, but am joining ACFW, and will be very ready for next year. Your group here is nudging me gently(song title?)so thank you for all your post and blogs..

    warm hugs


  42. I think we should all enter the Genesis and cross our eyes. What a great photo op.

  43. Mareva, you can enter an unfinished manuscript into the Genesis contest! The contest only asks for the first 15 pages (double spaced) and a projected total word count in the header (and if it ends up being wrong, who's going to know?)

    So go ahead and enter! What have you got to lose?

  44. I know the attention of being a finalist made editors noticed me last year and led to my first sale. (The Familiar Stranger was entered as Undiscovered.) It's already available for pre-orders online or in local bookstores!!

    And I only took second place! I predict that as the years go by, the Genesis contest only gains a better and better reputation. Soon, even being a finalist will equal gaining a contract. :-)

  45. Congratulations, Christina and I vote for your plan!!!