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2013 First Impressions Contest

Congratulations to the winners of the 2013 First Impressions contest! See all the winners here. Happy New Year!

FIRST IMPRESSIONS gives writers the opportunity to have the first five pages of their Christian fiction manuscript evaluated by an industry professional.

ELIGIBILITY: Any author whose work has not been previously published in fiction (in ANY print or online form) is eligible, with no limit to the number of entries that may be submitted, however, a manuscript may not be entered into multiple categories. Manuscripts which have previously placed in the final round or won the Genesis Contest are not eligible. The manuscript should not contain profanity, graphic sex, or other objectionable material, and must otherwise conform to generally accepted standards of the CBA, as determined by ACFW. Judges may request submissions not meeting this requirement be disqualified.

FEES: $15 per entry for current ACFW members, $25 per entry for non-members. Any break in membership during the course of the contest will result in withdrawal of the entry and forfeiture of the entry fee.

SUBMISSION: Submit a back-cover copy type blurb of 200 words or less AND the first five pages of the manuscript, in the same file. Indicate into what genre you would like your submission entered. If you are entering First Impressions with multiple manuscripts, please click "Add Another Title" until you have entered all your manuscripts. You can also come back later and add more manuscripts if you would like.

Do NOT place your name or pseudonym anywhere on the manuscript/blurb. Also, be mindful of not posting to your online profiles the name or other identifiers of your First Impressions-entered manuscript(s) since judging is to be anonymous.

GUIDELINES - All entrants are required to check the “accept” box on the entry form indicating acceptance of terms.


1. Use 12 point font, double-spaced, with one-inch margins. The contest requires the use of Courier New or Times New Roman.

2. Include a header on each manuscript with the title, category/genre, entire manuscript word count, and page numbers. NO entrant's name or pseudonym should be in the header.

3. Start your first page 1/3 of the way down the page rather than at the top.

4. Send the first 5 pages of your manuscript. Prologues are acceptable. DO NOT send more than 5 pages of your manuscript and a 200-word blurb (6 pages in all).

5. The entry’s 200-word blurb must be single-spaced and should be placed at the beginning of the file, in FRONT of the manuscript pages. The blurb and 5 manuscript pages must be part of the same file.

6. Fill out entry form, upload entry file, and pay contest fee.

Entries not fulfilling the above specifications will be disqualified. Entry fees will not be refunded.

For more information, see FAQ pages on the ACFW website. If you have any questions, please e-mail the contest coordinator at


Category coordinators are:

JUDGING: The first round of the contest will be judged by 3 published authors or by experienced non-published authors. The final round will be judged by 2 agents.

Final round judges are:

  • Contemporary: Ann Byle, Diana Flegel
  • Historical: Karen Neumair, Rachel Kent
  • Historical Romance: Mary Sue Seymour, Karen Solem
  • Mystery/Suspense/Thriller: Ann Byle, Chip MacGregor
  • Novella: Tamela Hancock Murray, Karen Neumair
  • Romance: Janet Grant, Joyce Hart
  • Romantic Suspense: Tamela Hancock Murray, Les Stobbe
  • Short Novel: Joyce Hart, Mary Sue Seymour
  • Speculative: Amanda Luedeke, Karen Solem
  • Young Adult: Diana Flegel, Amanda Luedeke

All judging is blind. Entrants' names are only known by the coordinator.

Under no circumstances should comments given by a judge be used for publicity or promotional purposes without the express consent of the judge.

PRIZES: One first-place winner from each category will be chosen. They will receive complimentary renewal of ACFW membership for the following year, their name included among the promotional material at the ACFW Conference, and a press release to their local newspaper, if provided.

TIMELINE: The contest will begin September 25, 2013 at 8:00 AM central time. All contest entries and contest fees must be received by 4:00 PM central time on November 1, 2013.

All entries will receive a confirmation e-mail indicating receipt of the entry. If an entrant does not receive a confirmation e-mail by 7:00 PM central time November 5, 2013, the entrant should e-mail the contest coordinator at

Finalists will be announced before December 5, 2013.

The final winners will be announced by December 31, 2013.