Thursday, 28 March 2019

Introducing the 2019 CALEB Award from Omega Writers

By Iola Goulton @iolagoulton

The 2019 CALEB Award will soon be open for entries. As the coordinator of the Awards, I'd like to encourage all members of the Australasian Christian Writers community to get involved. Today I'm going to share three ways you can be involved:
  • Entry opportunities
  • Judging opportunities
  • Sponsorship opportunities

Entry Opportunities

Entry to the CALEB Award is open to all Australian and New Zealand Christian writers (wherever they live), or writers living in Australia or New Zealand.

The 2019 Award is open to books with a 2017 or 2018 copyright date, subject to the book not having previously been entered. We will accept entries with a 2016 copyright date only if that title could not have been entered in the last two years because that category was not offered.

The Unpublished Award is for adult fiction across all genres.

We will ask entrants to state their genre so we're able to match them with judges who enjoy and feel capable judging that genre. We don't want to give a romance title to a judge who loathes romance, or a fantasy title to a judge who hates fantasy.

The Published Award will have the following categories:

Picture Books

Picture Books are generally books aged at children under the age of five, and are designed to be read aloud. The best picture books have a story that parents, grandparents, and teachers will willingly read aloud over and over and over. They will also have illustrations which complement the story and interest the child.

Young Adult Fiction

Young Adult fiction can include fiction in any genre, aimed at readers aged between 13 and 18 years old. As such, the language, content, and themes should be consistent with the issues faced by this age group.

Adult Fiction (Mystery, Suspense, Speculative, Women's Fiction)

Adult fiction is fiction aimed at adult readers (i.e. not young adults). Entries can be in any genre except romance or fiction with romantic elements.


Memoir and autobiography are both about the author. The difference is that autobiography tends to cover the author's whole life, while memoir focuses on a specific theme, and only relates events relating to that theme. Biography is written about someone else, and may be a whole of life book, or may focus on a period of their life, or on a specific theme. Books in this category are often referred to as narrative non-fiction, which follows many of the rules of fiction (e.g. showing the story from a single point of view, and avoiding telling).

To find out more and to enter, visit

The CALEB Award is run by Omega Writers although books don't have to be overtly Christian.

Some of our winners have been "defiantly Christian". Others have been great books by Christian writers with underlying Christian themes like love, honesty, or the importance of family.

While we do accept entries that aren't specifically aimed at the Christian market, we do ask that all entrants state their agreement with the Omega Writers Statement of Belief. We also remind entrants that we are judging books based on a Christian world view, so general market titles are unlikely to score well.

Judging Opportunities

Writing contests need entrants, but they also need judges. Some contests require entrants to judge in another category. We don't, but judging is a great way of giving back to the Australasian Christian writing community.
  • If you're entering the Unpublished award, then we'd love to have you judge the Published award—Young Adult or Adult fiction.
  • If you write fiction and you're entering one of the Published awards, then we'd love to have you judge the Unpublished award.
If you're not entering the CALEB, then we'd love to have you judge whatever category you like!

What qualifications do I need to be a judge?

You need to be a keen reader of the genre you're offering to judge. That's pretty much it.

No, you don't have to be a writer. No, you don't have to be a member of Omega Writers.

If you're applying to judge the Unpublished contest, then it would be great if you're also a writer, editor, or publisher, as we want to give our Unpublished entrants quality feedback.

Also, the CALEB Award is a Christian contest, so we do ask that judges agree with the Omega Writers Statement of Belief.

What do judges have to do?

First-round judges will have approximately two months to judge between three and ten entries in the category and genre of their choice (so if you hate reading young adult romance, we'll do our best to ensure you don't get any romance entries. If you can only judge three entries, we'll send you three. If you can judge more, we'll send you more).

The Unpublished contest is the first 10,000 words of the manuscript, plus a 1,000-word synopsis.

Depending on how fast you read, judging should take between 30 and 60 minutes per entry.

Those judging the Unpublished contest will be asked to provide written feedback to support their scores, and this feedback will be given to the entrants. Feedback is one of the main reasons to enter an Unpublished contest, so we do ask that judges give fair, considered, and prayerful feedback. Click here to download a draft score sheet.

The first round of the Published contest is based on the full book for Picture books, or the first 50 pages (or 25%) of the book for other categories (although you're welcome to read the entire book). Judges will be asked to complete a score sheet for each entry, but will not have to provide written feedback, and score sheets will not be returned to the entrants.

Second-round judges will have approximately two months to pick a winner from between three and five finalists. They will be asked to read the full book or manuscript (entries are capped at 120,000 words).

Click here to sign up as a judge.

Sponsorship Opportunities

If you or your business would like to sponsor a category of the CALEB Award by offering a category prize (of either cash or a service), then please click here to contact the Omega Writers Sponsorship team.

How are you planning on being involved in the 2019 CALEB Award?

Do you have any questions I haven't answered? If so, please leave a comment (or click here to email me via the contact form on my website if you'd prefer).


  1. Hi Iola,

    Thanks for sharing this information about the CALEB awards. I'm looking forward to participating and also seeing the short list and winners. We really appreciate you taking the time to get this organised as I know it's a huge job. Thanks again.

  2. One thing I was wondering - you have a link for the judges. Is there a link for those wishing to submit either an unpublished or a published book to CALEB?

    1. Entries open tomorrow (Monday 1 April) on the Omega Writers website.