What You Need to Know
By conferring an SOA on a book, the Catholic Writers Guild is saying, “This book represents CWG as an organization dedicated to quality writing as well as to faithful Catholic teaching.” SOA evaluators comb through their evaluation assignments to make sure these books contribute positively to the reputation, not of their authors, but of the Catholic Writers Guild.
In other words, the SOA is hard to get. A book doesn’t just get it by default for having been written by a Catholic author.
On the flip side, not giving a book the SOA simply means that the CWG as an organization is not in a position to promote this particular book. Nowhere will you find a list of titles submitted for but declined the SOA. Nowhere will you find a list of authors who have applied for but failed to receive an SOA. Not having the SOA does no harm to anyone’s reputation. The SOA process is kept as confidential as humanly possible for this reason, among others. The author’s freedom to promote said book in virtually all other forums, including among other CWG members through more traditional, more personal networking means, remains unchanged.
On the human side, every SOA evaluator is involved in writing in some way, whether as writer, editor, publisher, or all of the above. We all know the sting of rejection. However, if we are honest with ourselves, we must realize that rejection is an inevitable part of the writing life. Rejection by publishers, harsh edits, bad reviews, loss in award contests… if you are a writer, rejection is all but unavoidable. Alas, as Christ Himself was rejected to the point of death, we cannot imagine ourselves too good for rejection’s sting.
If an author has submitted one’s work for the SOA, rejection is a possibility. If a writer can’t accept rejection without retorting in some way, that writer has unrealistic, dare we say unprofessional, expectations. A retort in this case may include trying to argue with the source of the rejection, insulting those who may have had a hand in the rejection, or enlisting friends and family to participate in the argument.
Applying for the SOA is entirely voluntary. If you cannot imagine that your work could possibly be denied the SOA, or if you fear that having the SOA denied your submitted book could cause you irreparable emotional damage, it might be advisable that you reconsider applying. In the meantime, many members of the CWG find great comfort and strength in praying the Litany of Humility as we all work together to write the good fight.
May the Sacred Heart of Jesus bring us all consolation, and may Jesus make our hearts more like His each day.
For a book to be considered for the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval:
- Book has an ISBN and is published or will be self-published or book is under contract with a publisher
- Author is a Catholic in good standing
- If not a CWG member, the author has paid the $10 application fee
- Book is Catholic in nature (for fiction, this means Catholic themes and characters)
- Book does not contradict or disparage Catholic teaching
- Book does not speak disparagingly of an accepted Catholic practice (such as Novus Ordo Mass or Tridentine Mass) nor give the impression that only a particular Catholic practice is the right way to salvation
- Book does not support heresies or New Age philosophies
- If the book is self-published, author can submit proof of professional editing
For more specifics, before applying, authors should view the criteria against which SOA evaluators will evaluate each submitted book.
How the Process Works
Under normal circumstances, the Seal of Approval team accepts applications four times each year. The schedule for this year:
- First Quarter submission process opens on January 2 with awarding by March 31
- Second Quarter submission process opens on April 9 with awarding by June 30
- Third Quarter submission process opens on July 1 with awarding by September 30
- Fourth Quarter submission process opens on September 1 with awarding by November 30
In advance of each quarter, the Seal of Approval Committee reviews available evaluation resources and sets a cap for the number of books that will be evaluated that quarter. A waitlist for each quarter may be maintained at the discretion of the SOA Committee.
On the assigned day each quarter, the Seal of Approval Application Page will open around Noon Eastern (New York) time. In order to apply, besides your name, contact information, and book title, you will need to provide your book’s ISBN, year of publication, word count, formats available, and, for self-published works, professional editor’s name and contact information.
Submitting authors are encouraged to access that application as close to the Noon Eastern application opening time as possible, due to the limited number of submissions the SOA team can review each quarter. When that quarter’s cap is reached, the application page will be closed and will not reopen until the next quarter.
If your application has made it into the cap, you will receive an email from the SOA Author Coordinator from firstname.lastname@example.org. The Author Coordinator will give you instructions on how to provide the team with electronic copies.One of the concerns we face as an organization is the quality of the work we stand behind. While we do reject titles when we have concerns with poor editing, there is now the opportunity for one resubmission with proof of professional editing.