ACFW Virginia The Crown

The ACFW-VA Crown Award is for unpublished Christian fiction writers, age 18 years or older. With several categories to enter, the Crown provides the opportunity for unbiased feedback on writers’ work by published authors and experienced judges, and the chance for finalists to have their work read by Christian publishing house editors and literary agents.

You do not need to be a member of ACFW nationally nor of the ACFW Virginia Chapter in order to participate.

Important Dates:

  • August 1, 2018 – Contest is open for entries. Start your contest entry by filling out the Registration Form. After the registration form is received, you will be manually emailed a PayPal Invoice for the entry fee. After the entry fee is paid, please email your entry to Please be sure to follow all instructions below for content and formatting. Best wishes!
  • August 27, 2018 – Submissions closed (5pm Eastern Time).
  • September 28, 2018 – Top 3 Finalists Announced
  • November 3, 2018 – Winners announced at the ACFW-VA Conference in Fredericksburg, VA


  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 The Crown.
  2. Authors who are published in non-fiction and picture books are eligible to enter an unpublished fiction manuscript.
  3. There is no limit to the number of entries an author may submit, however, a single manuscript may not be entered into multiple categories.
  4. Contest is open to ACFW-VA members and non-members.
  5. Any author contracted for publication before August 1, 2018 is not eligible to enter. If an entrant receives a contract on an entered manuscript after August 1, 2018 may remain in the contest.
  6. Any author who has entered The Crown may not independently publish any work until after The Crown finalists are announced. However, if they are a finalist in the contest, then they may not independently publish any work until after the winners are announced during ACFW-VA’s November 3, 2017 conference.
  7. In any category, if fewer than five (5) entries are received, the category will 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 Crown are not eligible to be entered in this year’s contest. Previous finalist (non-winning) entries may be entered again.
  9. The manuscript should not contain profanity, graphic sex, gratuitous violence or other objectionable material, and must otherwise conform to generally accepted standards of the CBA. The ACFW-VA Conference Board may order the disqualification of submissions not meeting this requirement.
  10. Manuscripts are not required to be complete in order to enter, but it is strongly suggested as industry professionals will judge the finalists.


Entry fee is payable by PayPal and is non-refundable. Entry fees are used by the ACFW Virginia chapter to finance the contest, as well as raise funds for local chapter events. You may choose to join ACFW VA, if you are a Virginia resident and member of ACFW, at the time of entrance in order to receive the member entry fee rate.

  • ACFW Virginia Chapter Members: $20.00
  • Non-members: $25.00

Multiple entries require separate entry fees.
If an entrant must withdraw from the contest for any reason, they forfeit their entry fee.

Submission Instructions:

  1. Each entrant must upload their entry as a Microsoft Word document.
  2. Include a one page single-spaced synopsis in the same file with your manuscript. Do NOT send a separate file for your synopsis. The one-page synopsis should have the same format as the manuscript EXCEPT that it should be single-spaced, instead of double-spaced, and it should start at the top of the page one double-space below the header. The synopsis may use indented paragraphs with no spaces between the paragraphs or block paragraphs with a double space between paragraphs. PLEASE insert the synopsis first in the document, then the manuscript pages. (11 pages total)
  3. Do NOT place your name or pseudonym anywhere on the synopsis or manuscript.
  4. Please do not post the name or other identifiers of your Crown-entered manuscript(s) to any of your online profiles (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, etc.) for judging to be unbiased and anonymous.
  5. Fill out the entry form, pay the contest fee, and email in your entry form to


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 Times New Roman, Courier New, Garamond, Cambria, or Book Antiqua.
  2. The one-page synopsis should have the same format as the manuscript EXCEPT that it should be single-spaced instead of double-spaced, and it should start at the top of the page one double-space below the header. Start the first page of your manuscript 4 double spaces (8 single spaces) below the header.
  3. 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.
  4. Your entry will contain, in this order, a one page, single-spaced synopsis, followed by your first chapter, up to the first 10 pages of your manuscript. Prologues are acceptable and are included in the 10-page count. The entry will be 11 pages total, including synopsis. You may send less than 11 pages. DO NOT SEND MORE THAN 11 PAGES.
  5. To indicate a scene break, insert a single hashtag (#) or three hashtags (###) or three asterisks (***) one double-space down from the last line of the previous scene. Begin the new scene one double-space down from the hashtag(s) or asterisks.

Entries not fulfilling the above specifications will be returned to the entrant with one opportunity to correct and resubmit. After this, the entry will be rejected. Entry fees will not be refunded.

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


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

PRELIMINARY ROUND: During the first round, three judges (published authors or experienced writers trained in judging The Crown) will score each entry, up to a maximum of 100 points per entry. All three scores will be averaged. Discrepancy judges will NOT be used due to the logistics of the contest.

FINAL ROUND: The top three (3) finalists in each category will continue to the final round. In the event of a tie, the previous round scores of the tied entries will be used to break the tie.

During the final round, two final-round judges will score each entry, and the scores will be averaged. Discrepancy judges will NOT be used. In each category, the entry receiving the top final round score becomes the category winner. The final round scores alone determine the category winners. If any category winner is disqualified or withdraws for any reason, the next highest-scoring finalist will be moved up to become category winner.

For the final round, the final round judges (editors and agents) will not utilize the score sheet used in the first and second rounds of judging. Instead, final round judges will simply give a score between 1 and 10 for each entry. Final round judges have the option of giving comments on the final round entries, but are not required to do so. All scores will be averaged. Previous round scores will be used to break a tie.

If any finalist is disqualified or withdraws for any reason after August 1, 2018, the next highest scoring, non-finaling entry will NOT be moved up to fill the vacant spot as a finalist.

For non-finaling entrants, score sheets and manuscripts will be e-mailed back to each entrant by October 1, 2018. Entrants are asked to please be patient as coordinators return entries, due to the sheer volume of entries and emails.

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

Final Round Judges are editors and agents, including:

      • Bob Hostetler, Steve Laube agency
      • Tamela Hancock Murray, Steve Laube agency
      • Jim Hart, Hartline Agency
      • Sarah Freese, WordServe Literary
      • Yvonne Lehman, Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas
      • Nicola Martinez, Pelican Book Group
      • Bethany Kaczmarek, Editor and Faculty Director for Realm Makers
      • Jessica Nelson, Managing Editor of Candlelight Fiction
      • Leslie McKee, Lead Editor at Spark Magazine
      • Reagen Reed, editor

    Entry Details: All entries should be the first chapter of your novel, but no more than 10 pages with the following format listed below. Any entry not following these guidelines will be disqualified and returned to the entrant.


    For all stories, one or more characters’ Christian beliefs are blended with and form a part of the story. However, the presence of a Christian character or the use of Christian phrases and scripture are not the indicators of the spiritual content in the stories. For Speculative Fiction, the traditional Christian terms can be replaced by terms more suited to the storyworld.

  • Contemporary/Contemporary Romance: Novels or sagas set in any location with a contemporary setting. This category includes literary fiction, women’s fiction, and mainstream fiction. In Contemporary Romance entries, the love story is set in any location in a contemporary setting, and is the main focus of the novel. The end of the book is emotionally satisfying. The stories in this category can be dramatic or comedic.
  • Historical/Historical Romance (through Vietnam era): Novels or sagas set in any location, in which the time frame of the majority of the story is historical rather than contemporary. The time period can be up to and including the Vietnam era.
  • Mystery/Suspense/Thriller: Novels set in any location in which suspense or mystery is an integral part of the plot, including those with a strong romance focus. The story can be in any location, but the time frame should be contemporary. Historical romantic suspense stories should be entered in the Historical category.
  • Speculative: Novels in which the science fiction, the future, other planets, a fantasy world, or paranormal happenings are a major element of the plot or setting. This category includes science fiction, fantasy, paranormal, futuristic, allegory, and alternate history fiction. Stories targeted primarily at young adult readers should be entered in the Young Adult category.
  • Young Adult: Novels targeted toward young adult readers ages 12 through 18. The stories in this category can be dramatic, comedic, romantic, or non-romantic. Science Fiction/Fantasy/Allegory stories targeted primarily at young adult readers can be entered in this category. Stories targeted to Middle Readers are included in this category.
  • Prizes:

    Each category will have one first place winner. The first place entry in each category will receive a certificate award and a gold Crown lapel pin. Winners will be announced at the 2018 ACFW Virginia Annual Conference in November. Finalists in each category will receive a certificate.


  • 2017 Contest winners
  • 2016 Contest winners2015 Contest winners

10 thoughts on “ACFW Virginia The Crown

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