The Caleb Prize was a competition for Australian and New Zealand authors of Christian literature. Omega Writers administered the Caleb Prize from 2010 to 2014 but when the new Omega committee took over in 2015, we decided that our learning curve was steep enough without running a national writing competition! Now that we've settled in, we're setting our sights on relaunching the Caleb Prize in 2016.
Rather than roll out the same version of the competition, we saw this as an opportunity to refine the process and hopefully arrive at an even better result. After consultation with experienced members of the Australasian Christian writing and publishing community, we have altered a number of things. We haven't finalised the rules or timeline but below are a couple of the principles we expect to apply, along with some of our reasoning.
Omega Writers exists to educate, support and inspire Australasian Christian writers towards excellence, impacting society with grace and truth. We want our words to change the world.
Therefore, any competition run by Omega Writers aims to:
1. Recognise and encouraging excellence in writing by Australasian Christians
In the past, the Caleb Prize has had a number of categories, including:
· Reviewers’ Choice
· Booksellers’ Choice
While this allows us to better compare like with like, it has sometimes resulted in a very small pool of books for certain categories.
To counter this issue, and to decrease the load on judges, we plan to stagger the categories. For example, one year’s categories may be non-fiction, poetry, romance fiction and devotional; the next may be sci-fi/fantasy fiction, children’s and biography.
We will set a minimum number of entries for each category. If an insufficient number are received, we will roll that category over to the following year.
There will probably be an unpublished category every year but the categories for this will vary depending on the sponsoring publisher for that year. The prize for unpublished will not be guaranteed publication but our discussions with publishers indicates that part of the prize will be feedback, with a publishing contract a possibility.
2. Provide opportunities and advice for Australasian Christian writers
One of the main difficulties in previous years of the Caleb Prize has been finding judges. This stems back to the relatively small pool from which we are able to draw our experts, many of whom have had work they wanted to enter themselves, making them ineligible to judge.
A small number of judges increased the load on those who did volunteer. We hope to mitigate this by having two rounds of judging for most categories.
The first round will be based on a limited word or page count, maybe the first twenty-five pages or 5,000 words. Judges will be anonymous but experienced in that category. They will have a marking sheet and between them will create a short list.
Second round judges will be named and will base their decisions on the entire manuscript.
What we need
There is much more to say but my word count is nearly up. Check the competitions page on the Omega website in the following weeks, or become a member to receive notifications.
The Omega Committee is running at close to capacity. For the Caleb to run next year, we need a number of volunteers:
· Sub-committee with roles devoted to oversight, finances, registration/ administration and marketing.
· For each category, at least three first round judges, one named judge, and an administrative assistant.
If you would like to see the Caleb Prize run again in 2016, please consider volunteering. Comment below or contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Simon Kennedy is President of Omega Writers. He has won national competitions in both short story and poetry and recently signed his first contract with an international production company to develop one of his original concepts into a television show. His YouTube channel, Songs with Simon, has over 2 million hits.