Writers’ Guidelines

Submit by US Mail:
Charlotte Bradley, Acquisitions Editor
1430 Wade Hampton Blvd
Greenville, SC 29609-5046

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First Chapter Books | Christian Fiction and Biography | Bible Studies, Christian Living, and Church and Ministry Resources

Guidelines for First Chapter Books

Audience: Most readers will be six to nine years old. These children are just beginning to read independently.


  • The story should have an exciting plot, an uncomplicated story line, and vivid, well-developed characters.
  • Human or animal characters may be used, but separate talking animals in fanciful stories from realistic animals in stories that feature human characters.
  • Any genre except high fantasy and biblical fiction is acceptable.
  • Humorous stories are favorites for these readers, but avoid using crass or vulgar language.
  • The tone may range from Christian to just-for-fun, but the stories should not be didactic.
  • Weave the theme or take-away content into the fabric of the story.
  • Query first about nonfiction ideas.

Length: 8,000 to 10,000 words

Chapter length: Chapters should be less than 1,000 words. Chapters should have interesting titles.

Paragraph length: Paragraphs may be very short.

Syntax: Use short, simple sentences. A few compound sentences are acceptable, but avoid compound-complex or complex sentences. Avoid using introductory dependent clauses.

Vocabulary: Most words should be six letters or shorter; avoid using those that are longer than nine letters. Focus on strong nouns and verbs, and minimize the use of modifiers.

Readability: Check readability with grammar check in Word. The Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level measures approximate year and month in school. (e.g. 2.5 = second grade, fifth month) The Flesch Reading Ease uses a scale of 0 to 100. First chapter books ideally fall between 75 and 100; higher is better. You may be asked to revise if the readability is too challenging for the target reader.

Tips for improving readability:

  • Replace long words with shorter synonyms. (Readability programs count syllables.)
  • Recast complex, compound-complex, or compound sentences as simple sentences.
  • Intersperse long sentences with short sentences for good balance and cadence.

 Guidelines for Christian Fiction for Children and Teens

JourneyForth seeks to provide well-written, biblically sound resources for readers of varying reading abilities and interests—books with a Christian worldview and excellent in every facet of their presentation.

 What to Submit

  • Christian fiction or biography for children and teens
  • Manuscript lengths:
    • Ages 6–8: 8,000 to 10,000 words
    • Ages 9–12: 30,000 to 40,000 words
    • Ages 12 and up: 40,000 to 60,000 words

 How to Submit

  • Send a cover letter describing the work and your target audience
  • Send biographical information, including other books/articles you have published
  • Include the first five chapters and a brief synopsis of the rest of the book.

 Is it Ready to Submit?

  • Does your story reflect high Christian standards of thought, feeling, and action?
  • Is the theme strong enough to support a book-length manuscript?
  • Is your plot unique and engaging to the target reader, building to a natural, effective climax with plenty of action?
  • Does your main character have a clearly defined goal he or she is trying to achieve?
  • Is the point of view consistent?
  • Are the facts carefully researched?
  • Is the language appropriate for the age/reading skills of the intended reader?


  • Know that we use in-house authors for short stories, picture books, rhyming text, and poetry.
  • Understand that our market is not open to stories that include profanity or minced oaths, magic or witchcraft, time travel, and characters who engage in unscriptural activities without a biblical consequence.

Guidelines for Bible Studies, Christian Living, and Church and Ministry Resources for Teens and Adults

JourneyForth seeks to provide well-written, biblically sound resources with a conservative Christian worldview. Our desire is to encourage believers to become more Christlike in their thinking, to grow in their service to God, and to represent Christ well before the world.

What to Submit:

  • Bible studies
  • Christian living

Manuscripts Should:

  • Demonstrate careful handling of the Word of God
  • Provide direction for Christian living
  • Provide timeless content in a timely presentation
  • Have broad appeal

Manuscript Lengths:

  • 70,000–90,000 words for Christian living and Church and ministry helps
  • 25,000–45,000 words for Bible studies

Your Proposal Should Include:

  • A cover letter describing the work, your target audience, and a comparison to books on the market indicating how your manuscript differs
  • An overview of your manuscript
  • A table of contents with a sentence description of each chapter
  • The first three to five chapters
  • Biographical information: your platform, your motivation, and other books/articles you have written
  • A self-addressed, stamped envelope (if you want your mailed manuscript returned)


  • Manuscripts that differ philosophically with a conservative Christian worldview are outside our publishing plan and will not be considered.
  • We do not publish the following:
    • Short stories
    • Personal narratives/memoir
    • Fiction for adults
    • Devotional books
    • Gift books
    • Poetry