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2014 First Impressions Contest

FIRST IMPRESSIONS gives unpublished writers the opportunity to have the first five pages of their Christian fiction manuscript evaluated by an industry professional.


1. Any author whose work has not been previously published in novella or book-length fiction (in ANY print or online form) is eligible to enter First Impressions.

2. Authors who are published in non-fiction, children's, and short story are eligible to enter an unpublished fiction manuscript.

3. There is no limit to the number of entries that may be submitted, however, a manuscript may not be entered into multiple categories.

4. Contest is open to ACFW members and non-members.

5. Any author contracted for publication before March 15, 2014 is not eligible to enter First Impressions.

6. Co-authored entries are allowed to enter. If one of the authors is a current ACFW member, then the entry can be submitted for the member entry fee. Both authors must be unpublished in fiction.

7. In any category, if fewer than seven (7) entries are received, the category shall be dissolved and the entrant’s alternate choice category on their submission will be used. The author is responsible for choosing the appropriate category for their entry.

8. Previous winning entries of the First Impressions are not eligible to be entered in this year's contest. Manuscripts which have previously placed in the final round or won the Genesis Contest are not eligible.

9. 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.

10. Manuscripts do not have to be complete in order to enter First Impressions.

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.


1. 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.

2. Do NOT place your name or pseudonym anywhere on the manuscript/blurb.

3. Please do not post the name or other identifiers of your First Impressions-entered manuscript(s) to any of your online profiles (i.e. Facebook, Twitters, etc.) since judging is to be anonymous.

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


Please use the Manuscript Formatting Example found here (link to come soon) to see how your entry should look. Entries with borders or frames on the manuscript pages will not be allowed. For all entries, the following guidelines must be used:

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, estimated manuscript word count, and page numbers. NO entrant's name or pseudonym should be in the header. See example. (Coming soon)

3. 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).

4. 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 double-spaced manuscript pages must be part of the same file. Your contest entry will be 6 pages total.

5. Start the first page of your manuscript 4 double spaces (8 single spaces) below the header.

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

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

If you have any questions, please e-mail the contest coordinator at


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. In the event of a tie, the previous round scores of the tied entries will be used to break the tie.

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.


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 contact provided.


Contest opens: September 2, 2014 at 8:00 AM central time.

Contest closes: October 15, 2014 at 4:00 PM central time. All contest entries and contest fees must be received by that time.

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 October 16, 2014, the entrant should e-mail the contest coordinator at Please double-check your spam or junk mail folders first, if you haven't received your confirmation.

Finalists will be announced on or before November 15, 2014.

The final winners will be announced by December 15, 2014.