Christian Novel Contest (2016-2017)

2016-2017 Contest is Now Accepting Submissions

writing-contest-FB-badgeThe Athanatos Christian Writing Contest is an outgrowth of ACM’s desire to develop a genre of fiction that might be called ‘literary apologetics.’ Apologetics is the defense of the Christian faith. Literary apologetics would be the use of fiction and Story to communicate the Gospel and the world view associated with it. In this way, many readers might receive the Christian message and consider it whereas they might distrust it if presented propositionally.  New to the 2016-2017 Contest:  A non-fiction category!

Athanatos is an apologetics ministry, but one that encourages as many ‘methods’ as possible to defend the faith. The arts and literature are one area where the secular community used to reign supreme. However, this is changing, and Athanatos aims to facilitate that change. This writing contest is part of that strategy.


2016-2017 Christian Novel and non-Fiction Contest Details

  • Deadline: January 15th, 2017.
  • Entry Fee: $90 (Dwolla) / $100 (Paypal, Credit Card, Check)
  • $2,500 first prize! Two $1,000 runner-up awards! Plus possible publication!
  • Winners to be announced at ACM’s Christian Arts Festival, Summer of 2017.
  • Winning authors’ books to be published Fall/Winter of 2017-2018.*
  • Manuscript length: recommend between 40,000 and 90,000 words.
  • **Sponsorship available

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Contest Details and Guidelines

READ IN FULL! — See also, these additional, more general rules.

—-> First prize will go to the very best submission, whether it be fiction or non-fiction.  There will be a ‘runner-up’ award for each category, ensuring that there will be at least one prize winner in each category.

—-> Top 10-12 entries will be invited to revisit their entry in order to revise it for a final round of judging in light of judges’ feedback.

—-> All entries will receive a copy of the winning books–if the offers to publish the entries are extended and accepted–in digital editions (epub, mobi, or pdf).

—-> All entries are entitled to a one page document providing feedback which summarizes the contest judges’ discussion of your entry, upon your request.  Please wait to make that request until finalists are announced.

—-> Manuscript length: recommend between 40,000 and 90,000 words. Compelling stories will not be penalized for their length. Just make sure your novel warrants whatever length you choose. However, when considering whether or not to offer to publish, ACM will take the length in consideration.

—-> * ACM reserves the right to not offer a publishing contract. Cash awards will, of course, still be disbursed.

—-> ACM reserves the right to modify the terms of this contest, including the cash award amounts. Cash award amounts may be decreased if the number of entries are low. If, however, it appears that the award would be less than $750/1st prize and $500/2nd prize, the contest will be canceled and all entries fees refunded in full. We reserve the right, but this has NEVER happened!

—-> Except for the possibility stated immediately above, no refunds are possible.

—-> Furthermore, it is the author’s responsibility to read all of the rules and requirements and format their entry correctly. Entries that do not may be disqualified from consideration–without a refund or even notification. In light of the fact that you are paying a reading fee and with the high number of entries this contest receives, why wouldn’t you make sure you follow the rules?

—-> ACM reserves the right to add additional prizes at its sole discretion.

—-> ACM will take submissions through Jan. 15th, 2017 — Noon, but authors are strongly encouraged to enter their submissions as early as possible to ensure that their stories receive adequate time for consideration. Submitting the novel for community feedback, though optional, may nonetheless be a good use of any ‘spare’ time before the contest officially begins.

Copyright: Entrants grant ACM the right to distribute the story to anyone that they please for the purposes of judging. Authors otherwise retain copyright, with some obvious exceptions if ACM is to publish their story.

Discounts: Second entry is an additional $65. Third entry is an additional $55. It is possible for the same author to win all three prizes!


Fiction:  Can be in any genre: action/adventure, fantasy fiction, young adult, historical, etc. Stories can be written even for young people, say junior high, but illustrated books for children would not qualify. Think: Chronicles of Narnia, Wrinkle in Time, etc. If you have a specific audience in mind for your story please indicate as much in the story summary which must accompany your submission.

Non-fiction:  Can be in any subject area that the author believes serves to advance the Kingdom:  pure apologetics, of course, or philosophical, historical, theological, etc.  Surprise us; we like being surprised.

In both cases, content that is not strictly geared towards Christian readers, and indeed, effectively reaches non-Christian audiences, will be highly favored.

Submission Format Requirements: Each submitted manuscript should have:

  • 1 inch margins
  • be single spaced
  • font size 12.

The first page of the submission should include:

  • the title of the entry
  • author’s name
  • phone number
  • email address

The next page should have a ONE PAGE summary of the story.

The third page should have a ONE PAGE outline of the story.

After that, the entire book should follow.

Obviously, if the story is chosen as a winner and for publication, it will be formatted differently.

Manuscript should be written in English, but foreign submissions are ok.

Previous Publication and Age Requirement: Manuscript must be one that has not been previously published (but self-published is ok) and one that you have the full copyright to. Winner must be at least 18 years old by August, 2017. There is no maximum age limit.

Criteria ACM judges will use for judging:

  • First and foremost, is it an interesting manuscript that is well written with few grammatical and spelling errors?
  • Does it, implicitly or explicitly, reflect a Christian worldview or promote a Christian perspective?
  • Does it do something new and fresh, showing creativity?
  • Can ACM see itself publishing it?

cropped-awc2_250-250Judges will not necessarily read the entire book! If the first 10-20 pages do not catch and keep their attention, they may stop reading it, and in their feedback page–if you desire to receive it- explain why. It is the author’s job to do what it takes to make the story interesting from the beginning. If this is a story that ACM may eventually publish, it is obvious that it must be interesting! If your story has a ‘slow’ beginning then the summary and outline becomes all the more critical. If we know where your story is going that can help us keep the opening pages in perspective.

Judging Process: ACM’s editorial staff will divide the submissions between them. The top 10-12 manuscripts will then be scrutinized by the entire staff and authors will be invited to revise their work in light of feedback received. Back and forth between ACM staff and the authors can be expected during this time. Authors will have a short period of time to perform the revision(s) and then will re-submit their manuscripts, at which time all of the judges will determine which of the manuscripts shall be the winners.

Timeline: (this is tentative, and may change as circumstances require)

Deadline: Jan 15th, 2017 — Noon.

  • Submissions accepted now until Jan 15th, 2017.
  • Second round entrants announced.  Feb-March, 2017.
  • Third round (our semi-finalists) are announced: Top 7-12 stories are chosen and stories are sent back for revision with our feedback in mind.  March-April, 2017.
  • June/July. Revised manuscripts are due; final deliberations begin.
  • August, 2017. Winners are announced at ACM’s Christian Arts Festival.
  • July/August/September. Contracts negotiated and signed.
  • September/October/November. Awards Disbursed.
  • 2018. Winners’ books released.

Skin Thickness Requirement: 1 inch. This is a contest that attempts to give the author honest, fair, helpful feedback- win or lose. We are as interested in building up writers who do not win, or even make it to the semi-finalists, as we are in the winners. Not giving our honest assessment of your story would not be helpful. If you do not desire our honest assessment do not ask to receive your assessment at all!

Moreover, if there is anything about the terms or nature our contest that you do not like, the time to decide that is before you submit your entry.  See here for more rules and requirements.

*Sponsorship available

2013 Runner Up Novel Contest winner, Joseph Courtemanche, writes: “I have an agent largely on the basis that I was the runner up in the Athanatos contest. That carried a lot of weight when I pitched myself to the agency. My book is in front of at least five different publishers right now – all of whom have requested the full manuscript. I am convinced that without the mentoring and guidance I received as a result of entering the Christian Novel Contest of Athanatos Ministries in 2012 I would not be where I am today. My book is much better, I am a much better writer. And if the whole purpose of this writing journey is to proclaim God’s message to the world, I am a better messenger as a result of my participation.  UPDATE:  Joseph’s book releases April 18, 2016!

2012 Novel Contest Grand Prize winner Derek Elkins writes: “… thanks again for putting on the contest in the first place and your desire to see God put first in every realm of the arts. This contest and the last two I participated in have opened my eyes just a bit more as to what God wants me to accomplish, and I appreciate that more than I could possibly express. You know, I’ve been a real, acting Christian for about sixteen years now. …. But, throughout all of that, I haven’t felt like I’ve made much of an impact or that I’m at a place that really fit. I don’t want to sound like an advertisement, but thanks to the encouragement I’ve received through Athanatos Ministries, I think I’ve finally got a grip on what God wants me to do and it feels great to finally know. Been waiting a long time.”

View past novel contest winners: 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015

Suggested Readings for Succeeding in this Contest

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2011 Second Prize winner Robert Abernathy writes: “My experience with Athanatos Ministries and the 2011 Novel Contest was one of the most valuable and rewarding experiences I have encountered as a writer. The knowledge, expertise and friendly advice throughout the editing process added dimensions to the book that filled in the holes where needed. [ACM assistant] Debbie Thompson was instrumental in helping me communicate an overall message in the book that wasn’t quite reaching the reader in the manner that I had hoped. I recommend this contest to anyone that has a message, a book, or an idea that they would like to see grow into a completed work with real practical and professional advice along the way.”

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Athanatos Christian Ministries (ACM) wants to inspire young Christians to take up the pen and promote the Christian world view through fiction. ACM believes that the the secular world is constantly promoting itself through the arts and that Christians should be prepared to fight back. Thus, the Gospel of Christ should be communicated through music, movies, plays, art … and literature. The purpose of this writing contest is to create a culture of quality writing reflecting a Christian world view.

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