Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Wanted: New Novelists

Check back here every Wednesday for a few thoughts on the craft. Here are today's:

Wednesday's Writing on Writing...

I’m looking for fresh, new talent in Christian fiction. Might you be the next as-yet-unpublished novelist to burst onto the scene?

At the Christian Writers Guild, we host Operation First Novel, an annual contest that pays the winner $20,000 and sees the prize novel published by Tyndale House Publishers.

Check our website, for details. While there is no entry fee, we feel it only fair to limit the contest to Guild members and students. You can immediately become a member for a modest fee, and even if you do this only to qualify for the contest, you’ll find many benefits that will quickly make up that cost.

Might you be the next winner? Or do you have friends, relatives, or acquaintances who might like a chance? Urge them to check it out.

Getting published is a colossal long shot these days, and the competition for fiction is especially brutal. A publisher is likely to try a first novel from someone who already has a visible ministry, because of the built-in audience. Yet, with rare exceptions, attempts at fiction by Christian leaders result in mere blips on the radar screen.

Ignore the odds. Perceptive publishers, like Tyndale House, recognize that the biggest names in Christian fiction were once unknown. Such publishers are on the lookout for the next big hit, the next unheard-of writer who emerges from the pack with deft writing, a great story, and a flair for telling it.

They suspect that somewhere someone is toiling in obscurity, waiting to be discovered. Here’s your chance. Study, read, write every day. Then take the plunge.

I didn’t try fiction until I had published 17 or 18 nonfiction books. Even while I was writing a murder mystery titled Margo, I had no idea what I had. But the story drew me back to the keyboard every day, and I realized I was having the most writing fun I’d ever had. I dreamed of a hit someday so I could write only novels.

I remember the day my editor called and said something about my having hit a home run. I would be paid the second half of the advance, and my little paperback would be published.
It didn’t come near the hit that Left Behind achieved years later, but Margo did become a 13-book series. And I was on my way.

Previous winners of our First Novel contest have included:

2004: Troublesome Creek by Jan Watson
2005: In Everything Give Thanks by Terry Barnes
2006: Vanish by Tom Pawlik
2007: Fireflies in December by Jennifer Valent
2008: Thicker Than Blood by C.J. Darlington

Our 2009 winner will be announced next month at our annual Writing for the Soul conference in Denver.

Maybe in 2010 it’s your turn. Give it a try. You have until October 1 to enter, so it's time to get started. Worst-case scenario, you enjoy a valuable learning experience. Best case? Pay down that mortgage.


Barbara J. Robinson said...

Maybe this will be the year I actually enter :) I've been working long and hard on mine.

John said...

Aloha jerry we met earlier at the hotel. Wanted to give you my number if you need any tips or would like to grab dinner one night with me and my wife. #808-212-6118. Blessed to meet you. God bless

Rena said...

Guess I better get to work!