Christian Retailing

Expanded Operation First Novel contest advises authors on book marketing Print Email
Written by Christine D. Johnson   
Thursday, 10 July 2014 09:54 AM America/New_York

OperationFirstNovelChristian Writers Guild (CWG) and its 1Source partner BelieversPress are expanding the Operation First Novel contest. The annual competition will now award three prizes consisting of publication packages with a combined value of more than $30,000.

“The traditional model has changed, and most publishers are taking fewer risks with new authors,” said Guild co-owner Jerry B. Jenkins.

To give unpublished writers more opportunities, Jenkins and CWG President Dave Sheets have restructured the contest as an indie/self-publishing venture.

Rather than recognize just one novelist, Operation First Novel will name three winners.

The first place winner will be awarded an independent publishing package (print and e-book) with Christian Writers Guild Publishing valued at $21,000. Second prize will be a print publishing package from Believers Press valued at $6,500. Third prize will be an e-book publishing package from Believers Press valued at $2,800.

Launched in 2004, the contest is open to Christian Writers Guild members who have not yet had a book released by a traditional publisher. Annual membership in the Guild is available for $79 and includes eligibility for Operation First Novel.

Along with other requirements, entrants must also submit their independent publishing marketing plan.

“Authors need to understand who they are trying to sell their books to, and how to effectively reach that audience,” Sheets said. “Too many write a book without any real planning on how to sell it. They just hope people show up to buy it. We call this the ‘Field of Dreams’ strategy, and it doesn’t work well. A business plan is the foundation of any selling venture.”

Contest winners will be announced at the Writing for the Soul regional writing and publishing conference in Hershey, Pennsylvania on Jan. 16, 2015. Contest rules are at

Editor’s note: Dave Sheets is now writing the “Independent Thoughts” column on independent publishing in Christian Retailing magazine.