What is the Catholic Writers Guild?
The Catholic Writers' Guild is a professional group of writers, artists, editors, illustrators, and allies whose mission is to build a vibrant Catholic literary culture.
You may download our CWG brocure for more information.
Is the CWG a non-profit organization?
We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. All of our funding goes toward educational and promotional programs for Catholic authors and their sharing of Catholic values. Our dues are tax deductible. With few exceptions, all programs are volunteer-run. (Our President and treasurer, our accounting and conference coordinators receive small stipends for their work.)
What does the CWG do?
- The Seal of Approval: a program for getting your book evaluated and approved for its Catholicity. The Seal of Approval is a signal to Catholic bookstores that they can carry your book without concern about its content.
- Marketing Newsletter Program: a bi-monthly mailing to readers, bookstores, and others in the publishing industry featuring member books with an Imprimatur or CWG Seal of Approval.
- CWG Newsletter: We keep our members informed on what's going on in the world of Catholic writing and in the Guild.
- Critique groups: where you can work with others to improve your writing.
- Group subscription to Animoto.com, so you can build promotional book trailers.
- Writing conferences: We produce two writers conferences per year. One is our Catholic Writers Conference Online, open to all writers Catholic and non-Catholic alike. The other is the Catholic Writers Conference Live, held in conjunction with the Catholic Marketing Network (CMN) Trade Show.
- CWG Booth: At the CMN trade show (and sometimes other shows), we have a booth where members can promote their books to suppliers, bookstore owners, and readers.
- Work opportunities: Sometimes publishers come to us with employment opportunities, which we post in the Facebook group. Several members have found regular writing gigs through the Guild.
- Regular weekly chats: Open to the public, we pray, encourage each other and "listen" to engaging speakers on various topics related to our faith and writing.
What do people do in the CWG?
You can take advantage of the many promotional programs we offer.
In addition, we have a variety of other programs for our members:
- In our private Facebook group, members can start up discussions on all aspects of writing, marketing, faith, social action, or just socialize.
- Members can join our weekly chats, which are open to anyone, to meet in a more spontaneous setting to ask questions, share news and pray.
- Join in on one of the many volunteer opportunities:
- Assist with the conferences
- Become a reader for the Seal of Approval Program
- Share market news.
- Get your news on the CWG home page
- Got an idea you can't accomplish alone? Bring it up to the officers! All of our programs are member-generated.
How do I recover a forgotten password?
- Click Log In on the top-right of the site
- On the Log In page, click Request new password
- Enter your email address and click E-mail new password
- Follow instructions in the email
You can also download these instructions: Setting a New Password
Why is there a membership fee?
One of the reasons for creating the CWG was to pool our resources for projects that aren't easy to do as individuals. The dues are for such projects. Dues fund the website and part of the conference fees--including our conference booth and hotel accommodations for volunteers--pay for group subscriptions to e-zines, provide stickers for the Seal of Approval recipients, and support other activities. It's a lot of benefit for $40 a year.
I can't afford the dues, but I want to join. What can I do?
We have, on occasion, given memberships to those in financial hardships. We ask that those who get a free membership do some volunteer work for the Guild in return.
Do I have to be Catholic to Join?
As the mission of the group is to support the Magesterium of the Church, writers need to be Catholic. However, we also recognize that the Catholic publishing field is narrow, while Catholic writers often write for non-Catholic Christian and secular publications. Therefore editors and publishers who are not Catholic but interested in joining are welcome, as long as they respect our Catholic beliefs and values.
Do I have to be a writer to join?
Members include all those involved in the publishing industry: writers, editors, illustrators, and publishers. "Writers" includes bloggers, reviewers, and those just starting out in their writing either as a career or as a hobby.
Do I have to be a published author to join?
No. We have writers at all levels--from those just starting out to those who are multi-published; novelists, magazine writers, bloggers... We're a diverse group.
My stories aren't Catholic--can I still be a member?
Yes. As our conference motto says, we "rooted in faith, writing for the world." Most of our members write works that are not specifically Catholic. However, if you are writing works that go against the Catholic faith, this is not the group for you. You must be a Catholic and agree to remain loyal the teachings of the Catholic Church.
What benefits do members have?
- You can get your book evaluated and approved for its Catholicity with the Seal of Approval (SoA). The SoA is meant to be a signal to Catholic bookstores that they can carry the book without concern about its content.
- If your book has an Imprimatur or the CWG Seal of Approval, you can have your book featured in the CWG Marketing Newsletter which is sent to feaders, bookstores and others in the publishing world.
- You can work with others to improve your writing in our critique groups.
- Join one of the two writing conferences we host each year: the Catholic Writers Conference Online, a free conference, and the Catholic Writers Conference Live, held in conjunction with the Catholic Marketing Network.
- Get your books posted in the CWG Showcase (currently offline until new website is developed).
- Promote your books at the CWG-sponsored booths at various conferences throughout the year.
- Take advantage of the employment opportunities posted in our Facebook group. Several members have found regular writing gigs through the Guild.
The Guild sounds wonderful! How can I help?
1. Pray for the Guild and its officers, volunteers, and members.
3. Volunteer to help in our many activities. Check the private Facebook page and website for a project that interests you, or if you have an idea, bring it up to the officers.
4. Let others know about the Guild. We have brochures we can supply you to take to conferences or booksignings or to pass to your friends. Word of mouth is always good as well!
Seal of Approval
What is the CWG Seal of Approval (SoA)? What is its purpose?
The CWG Seal of Approval is a kind of gatekeeping device for Catholic bookstore owners and readers. Simply put, it s an endorsement that the book supports Catholic beliefs and values. We began the SoA after discussions with Catholic bookstore owners who said they often did not have time to fully evaluate books and thus often didn't stock books that came from unknown writers or smaller presses.
The SoA is not a critique of a work, but rather an assurance of its Catholicity and that neither the work nor its author go against the Mageristerium authority of the Catholic Church. We evaluate for Catholicity as well as for basic quality. The bottom line is: Would this book be an acceptable addition to a bookstore's inventory?
How does the SoA help authors?
Authors looking to reach a Catholic audience, but whose books do not qualify for an imprimatur (like fiction), or authors who do not have access to the process to get an Imprimatur, can submit their book for the SoA. A committee reads and comments on the book. If there are any concerns, they are brought to the author, who may respond to the committee or accept to consider for future editions. If necessary, a priest is brought in to evaluate the concerns. The SoA process has two benefits: It provides a tangible reassurance to readers and bookstore owners that the book does support Catholic beliefs and values; and in the case that it does not, it gives the author some useful feedback.
How does the SoA help readers?
Readers can be assured that SoA books will not offend their faith and have a certain level of editorial quality.
How does the SoA help bookstore owners?
Store owners can be assured that they can stock the book on their shelves, host the author for a signing, etc. without compromizing their appearance or mission as a faithful Catholic apostolate.
Who can receive the Seal of Approval? Is it only for CWG members?
The SoA is available to Catholic authors of Catholic books (or fiction that supports Catholic traditions and morals.) You do not have to be a member of the CWG to receive the Seal of Approval. It is for books only. The Seal of Approval does not transfer to other books by the same author, nor can it apply to websites, blogs, magazines or other non-static works.
It is free for CWG members to apply; non-members pay a $10 fee.
The SoA can only be awarded to published books or manuscripts that are under contract. Manuscripts under contract should have gone through content edits already. The reason for this is to ensure no changes that might alter the Catholic nature of the book are made after the award is given. Self-publishing authors may submit manuscripts, but again with the understanding that the copy will not be undergoing content changes. The manuscript must be publish-ready before it can be reviewed.
How do I apply?
Applications for the Seal of Approval are open four times per year. Visit the Seal of Approval page to learn more about the process.
Who evaluates the book?
Three to five members of the SoA Committee, who are members in good standing in the CWG. Evaluators are chosen based on Catholic character and familiarity with our faith. The review process is somewhat elementary; whenever we have a conflict or potential concern about any book, we then take it to one of the core review team, which includes priests and teachers of the faith, who are members of the Guild. They will answer concerns, often citing religious writings to support or refute the concern.
If I receive an SoA , can I incorporate the seal into my cover art?
Yes, you may, as long as you do not change the content of the book in a way that might violate the intent of the award. Right now, CWG members are allowed to submit contracted manuscripts for the SoA ,so that, if awarded, they may incorporate the seal into their design. Recipients of the SoA will receive 25 sticker seals, and jpgs of the seal in color and grayscale for use in cover art or on their website.
What weight or impact does the SoA have on the overall sales and/or marketing of someone's book?
We can make no guarantee on its effect on sales. Too many factors contribute to a book's success, from the quality of writing to how aggressive the author and publisher are in marketing. What we can say is that we are developing a reputation among Catholic bookstore owners that a book with the SoA is one they can feel confident in stocking on their shelves, and among Catholic readers that books with the SoA will not offend their Catholic values. We promote SoA books at our booth at the Catholic Marketing Network Trade Show, which is visited by thousands of retailers each year.
Can the benefits of having an SoA on my book be measured?
That depends on what you mean. We cannot guarantee bookstores will stock SoA books, but the SoA does improve your chances. As the program grows in reputation, bookstore owners will consider these books despite the fact that they do not come from the usual large Catholic publishers. CWG members also get the added benefits of Guild-sponsored marketing programs for SoA titles. (These programs are open to member books with an Imprimatur as well.)
I have an SoA. How do I get more seals for my books?
You can order extra seals in groups of 25. The price is currently $10.00 per 25, plus shipping.
To order by mail, send a check (payable to Catholic Writers Guild) to: PO Box 39326, Indianapolis, IN 46239
Questions can be sent to: SoAstickers (at) catholicwritersguild.com
Catholic Arts and Letters Award (CALA)
What is the CWG Catholic Arts and Letters Award (CALA)? What is its purpose?
The CWG Catholic Arts and Letters Award, or CALA, is a literary award for excellence, both in the writing and in the presentation of Catholic tradition and values. It is awarded on an annual basis to books written in the calendar year, and there is an occasional award to individuals who have made significant contributions to Catholic writing.
Unlike the SoA, the CALA is a competitive process rather than a simple evaluation of Catholicity and writing quality.
Who can receive the CALA? Is it only for CWG members?
The CALA is available to Catholic authors of Catholic fiction (or fiction that supports Catholic traditions and morals.) You do not have to be a member of the CWG to apply for the CALA. The CALA is for published works only. At this time, only printed books are considered; e-books do not qualify. We hope to be able to change this in the future.
To be eligible, your book must have the CWG Seal of Approval or an Imprimatur.
What are the categories?
The CALA is an award of excellence for fiction. There are currently two categories: adult fiction, and children/young-adult fiction.
How do I apply?
To apply for the CALA, you need to fill out a questionnaire, on our CALA page. There is an entrance fee and you must submit up to five copies of your book to evaluators. Please note that neither entrance fee nor books are returned.
What are the application dates?
You may submit books for consideration from April of the award year through Jan 31 of the next year. For example, books published in 2016 may be submitted between April 1, 2016 and January 31, 2017.
What do the winners receive?
Winners receive a trophy, which is presented live at the Catholic Writers Conference Live/Catholic Marketing Network Trade Show in August if the author or publisher can attend. (If not, the book and author are announced and the trophy sent to them.) Winners also receive a graphic of the CALA seal to incorporate into their artwork or website, and can purchase seals to put on their books.