Straight from the Source

I had a conversation with Sue Brower, Senior Acquisitions Editor for fiction at Zondervan, about the Mt. Hermon contest, and she had some clarifications for us.

First, there was a question from a blog commenter about, a service that Zondervan sometimes uses to find fiction. Sue says, “the writer still has a better chance if they can get an agent, or pitch to me at a conference.”

Several of you noted the discrepancy between the competition deadline (November 1) and the beginning of registration (December 1) for the 2009 Mount Hermon’s Writer’s Conference. Sue apologizes for the mix-up and says:

We will allow entries from those who have not attended a Mount Hermon Writer’s Conference until the November 1 deadline. However, to continue in the competition, all competitors must be past participants or be registered for the 2009 conference by December 1.

This does allow you to enter the first phase of the contest (proposal and sample) without having to register for the 2009 conference. If you are selected to submit a full manuscript for judging and are not a past participant in the conference, you have until December 1 to register for the 2009 conference.


November 1, 2008 All entries to be received via mail or express mail by close of business day.

November 15, 2008 Semi-finalists named and full manuscripts requested.

December 1, 2008 All full manuscripts to be received via mail or express mail by close of business day. All entrants who have not participated in a past Mount Hermon conference must be registered for the 2009 conference.

February 1, 2009 Finalists announced.

April 4, 2009 Winner announced at Mount Hermon Writer’s Conference.


Someone mentioned that they couldn’t get the Zondervan link to work. Not sure what the problem was, but the website has been working since before the news release went out. leads to Z’s fiction homepage—the competition button is in the top right hand column. That gets you to “clicks” for entry form and guidelines.

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


  1. Mike on October 18, 2008 at 3:34 PM

    >Any idea whether Zondervan does this every year? I have about 75,000 words, but I have probably 20,000 more to go, as well as editing, etc.

    I could get the 5000 words in no problem, but I wouldn’t want to send something in if the rest of the book wasn’t ready to go.

  2. sheriboeyink on September 9, 2008 at 8:42 AM

    >Thanks for the extra information, Rachelle. It sounds like a great contest/opportunity.

  3. Pam Halter on September 9, 2008 at 7:53 AM

    >It should also be noted that manuscripts have to be at least 75,000 words. I thought I would give it a try, but my middle grade novel is only around 50,000.

  4. Susan on September 9, 2008 at 4:23 AM

    >Wonderful, thanks!

    I sent in a question, and Sue very kindly answered my e-mail. Just in case someone else has wondered the same thing, the rules state the writer ‘must not be published in fiction or non-fiction’, and (feeling a bit dumb I admit) I wondered if that meant we couldn’t be published *at all*, even in short works?

    Ms.Brower replied that being published in short works of fiction or nonfiction wouldn’t disqualify someone from the competition.

    Now, if only writing a great one-page synopsis were as easy as asking a question….


  5. Andrew on September 9, 2008 at 1:34 AM

    >Thank you for the clarifications!