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Carol Awards

ACFW Carol Awards

Congratulations to the 2015 Carol Award Winners! See list here.

Good news for Indie Authors:

Beginning with the 2015 Carol Awards program, certain independently published Christian fiction will be eligible. Traditionally published books must still be released by a recognized publisher. Independently published authors must also meet a certain standard to enter the Carols— “Qualified Independently Published” status. For the QIP status, the author must a) be an ACFW member, and b) will need to show proof of earnings of $4000 or more on one independently published Christian novel within a 12-month period. Once the status is reached, it is permanent. Details are below.

2015 Carol Award Guidelines

The Carol Awards are ACFW’s recognition for the best Christian fiction published by traditional publishing houses in the previous calendar year.


1. Each title must be the author’s work of original fiction in print or digital form.

2. The title shall be written from a Christian worldview (specifically, the book should not contain profanity, graphic sex, gratuitous violence or other objectionable material, and must otherwise conform to generally accepted standards of the CBA) in any Christian fiction genre through a publisher on ACFW’s Recognized Publishers list* or be Qualified Independently Published.

3. Co-authored entries are allowed. If one of the authors is a current ACFW member, then the title can be submitted for the member entry fee.

4. The title must have an original copyright date (printed on copyright page) between January 2014 and December 2014. In the rare event a book was released in 2014 but has a copyright date of 2013, please provide a) a letter from the publisher and b) a .pdf of the publisher’s catalog reflecting the title and release date to the Carol Award Coordinator, at least two weeks prior to the deadline to be considered for entry.

5.  All entering authors are required to check the “Accept” box on the entry form for the Contest Release, indicating acceptance of terms.

6.  Publishers may not enter for their authors.

7. Entry must be an English edition.

8.  Title may NOT have previously been entered in the Carol Award Contest.

9. Audio books can not be entered.


1. The entering author shall submit five (5) print copies of each title entered in the contest. Once books have been shipped to the contest coordinator, there are no changes allowed.

2.    The author is responsible for choosing the appropriate Carol Award category for their title.

3.    E-Book authors shall submit five (5) copies of a standard or spiral bound book with cover art and copyright page. No electronic copies are accepted.  Once books have been shipped to the contest coordinator, there are no changes allowed.

4. All authors will need the following in order to complete the online entry form:

• high resolution photo of book cover – must be no less than 300 dpi and at least 4” x 6” in size

• editor names (up to 2)

• publishing house name and contact phone number or check QIP box

• 5 physical copies of the book(s) being entered. Note: if entering the Debut Novel category, 10 copies will be needed (5 for the genre category, and 5 for the Debut Novel category).

5. Authors are responsible for sending the five (5) copies to the correct category coordinator designated on their paid entry receipt. Any shipping costs incurred due to a mistake on the part of the entering author (or the entering author’s representative) will be the author’s sole responsibility.  Payment will be required to be paid, via PayPal, prior to the contest entry deadline.

6. No title shall be entered in more than one category, with the exception of the debut novels. A debut title - meaning the author has never been previously published in fiction - is allowed in both the genre and Debut Novel category. In order to enter a debut title, author must also enter the title in the appropriate genre category.  (Please remember to send 5 books for each category to the correct category coordinator).

7. Authors with previous works of book-length fiction or novellas are not permitted to enter their first trade, mass or category novel in the Debut Novel category.

8. Novellas may not be entered in the Debut Novel category.

9.    Authors may enter all of their eligible titles. There are no restrictions or limits. For example, if an author has three romance titles and one speculative fiction title, all four can be entered in the appropriate categories, assuming the publication and copyright qualifications are met.


1. If less than seven (7) entries are received for any one category, it shall be closed and the authors’ alternate choice category will be used. In this event, ACFW will ship the books to the correct judges. 

2. Authors shall understand and agree that all scores are final once submitted by the judge into the contest system. Scores are determined by each judge according to an established guideline/scoresheet. No discrepancy judging or altering of scores shall be permitted. The five (5) scores for each title will be averaged. The three (3) titles with the highest score in each category shall advance to the semi-finals.

3.    Judges’ scores will not be returned to the author.

4. The top three (3) semi-final titles in each category will continue to the final judging round. In the event of a tie, the preliminary round scores will be used to determine the tie-break.

5. Authors who are finalists shall be required to submit three (3) additional copies of their title for the final round judging. Titles shall be be received by the category coordinators no later than July 1, 2015.

6.    Category judges in the final round shall judge all three (3) books. An average of the three (3) scores will determine the winner in each category.



Fee of $45 for ACFW Members per entry must be paid online via PayPal or credit card, or mail a money order or check made out to ACFW and sent to:

ACFW, P.O. Box 101066, Palm Bay, FL 32910-1066


Authors who are not ACFW members will pay a fee of $115 per entry. Author can join ACFW at contest entry time and pay the $45 per entry fee.

There are no refunds and books will not be returned.


• January 2, 2015 - Contest officially opens.

• March 15, 2015 – Contest closes at 4:00pm CENTRAL.**

• June 29, 2015 – Finalists announced at ICRS.

• July 1, 2015 – Three additional copies of the finalists’ books must be received by the coordinator.

• September 19, 2015 - Winners announced at the ACFW Conference in Dallas, Texas.

**All contest entry information, appropriate fees, and books must be received by category coordinators no later than 4:00pm CENTRAL March 15, 2015. Failure to meet the appropriate deadline shall result in disqualification, and the entry fee shall be forfeited. The author is responsible to make sure all materials (books, fees, and entry form) are submitted on time to the correct category coordinator.

Questions may be directed to:


Each finalist will receive a certificate and a silver pin.

Each winner will receive the Carol Award and a gold pin.  Winning editors will receive a certificate.

*The decisions about publisher recognition or qualified independently published status are made after careful consideration of ACFW’s goals and the vision. ACFW has the final word on publisher recognition or qualified independently published status.