2020 RITA Contest Judging

The purpose of RWA’s RITA Contest is to promote excellence in the romance genre by recognizing outstanding published novels and novellas.


Judge Volunteer Details

If you are eligible and interested in judging, please complete and submit the Judge Volunteer Questionnaire by October 20, 2019. RWA Staff will select and notify preliminary round judges by November 26, 2019. All selected judges will be required to complete judge training.


Fill Out the RITA Judge Questionnaire

 

Have questions? Check out the Judging FAQ before emailing the Contest Coordinator.


Scoring Overview

Each preliminary-round entry will be scored individually on a scale of 1.0 to 10.0, with 1.0 being the lowest (poor) and 10.0 being the highest (excellent). Judges are allowed and encouraged to use decimal points (7.5, 8.8, etc.) when scoring and consider the book’s performance in the following categories before awarding a score: (1) writing style; (2) characterization; (3) pacing/plotting/story structure; and (4) emotional resonance.


Judging and Judges

All General RWA members, Associate Writer RWA members, non-member RITA entrants, current or former booksellers and librarians, and romance reviewers whose Judge Volunteer Questionnaire has been submitted and accepted are eligible to judge the preliminary round so long as they have completed the required judge training.

Preliminary-round judges will be required to answer the following three questions in addition to assigning one overall score:

  • Does the entry contain a central love story?
  • Is the resolution of the romance emotionally satisfying and optimistic?
  • Does the entry fall within the category description?

If there are 3 negative responses to any one question, the entry is disqualified.

Overall preliminary-round scores will be determined using a trimmed mean (the highest and lowest scores will be discarded, and the remaining three scores will be averaged).

The top scoring 4 percent of each category’s entries (based on the number of qualified entries received) will advance to the final round; excepting that no category will have more than 10 finalists. Any fraction will be rounded up to the next whole number, not to exceed 10 finalists. However, no entry receiving less than 85% of the total possible score will advance to the final round.

Final-round entries for the RITA contest shall be ranked from first to last place (1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.) with the lowest score signifying the winner.

The identity of judges is confidential. RWA discourages any communication between judges and entrants.

Until the contest winners are announced, to protect the integrity of the contest, judges should not discuss the books, post comments in e-mail, on social media, or review the books they judge. Under no circumstances shall a judge identify the books that they judged. All questions about entries should be directed to RWA staff.

 

 

Additional Judging Issues Regarding the RITA

By entering a book in the RITA, the entrant agrees that, to the extent permitted by law, RWA may track the entrant’s judging scores.
  • In the event there is a concern about a judge’s scoring, repetitive use of the DNF score, or invidious discrimination against content, characters or authors, the judge may be contacted for more information and to elaborate on the reasoning behind the scores.
  • If the explanation given by an entrant pursuant to 17.8.5.2.1 is unsatisfactory, RWA reserves the right to remove an entrant from the RITA contest and the future judging pool, which could be for any specified period, including a lifetime ban, depending on the seriousness of the judging issue. These decisions will be made by RWA staff. Decisions can be appealed to the RWA Board.

 

The DNF (Did Not Finish) Score

This score is to be used pursuant to the restrictions set out in this section.

A judge in the preliminary round may give an entry a DNF score if the judge believes the book is too flawed to final as defined in 17.8.5.3.1.1. and 17.8.5.3.1.2.

A DNF score is appropriate in the following circumstances:

 

  • The book’s grammatical or other mechanical errors are so numerous as to suggest the book was not ready to be made commercially available by a professional author. The use of slang or vernacular is not a grammatical error.
  • The book’s craft issues are so numerous or fundamental to suggest the book was not ready to be made commercially available by a professional author.

A DNF is not appropriate in the following circumstances:

  • The book is not the type of book the judge usually reads.
  • The judge is uncomfortable with this subgenre of romance.
  • The judge does not like or is uncomfortable with the plot.
  • The judge does not like or is uncomfortable with the subject matter.
  • The judge does not like or is uncomfortable with one or more of the characters.
  • The judge believes they have read better books in this subgenre.
  • The judge had a hard time “getting into” the book or finds it boring.
  • The judge does not like or is uncomfortable with the sexual content, or lack thereof.
  • The judge believes they cannot fairly score this type of book, in which case the judge should contact the RWA Office immediately.
  • The judge thinks the book is in the wrong category, in which case the judge should indicate that on the judging form and not DNF.
  • The judge thinks the book is not a romance, in which case the judge should indicate that on the judging form and not DNF.
  • The judge thinks the book deserves a low score, in which case the judge should assign an appropriate score and not DNF.
  • The judge does not like or is uncomfortable with the use of slang, vernacular, profanity or explicit language.
A DNF score will equal a score of zero (0).

Any book that receives two DNF scores will automatically be excluded from moving to the final round of judging.

A judge may give a DNF score, if appropriate, after reading at least 25% of the book or 50 pages, whichever is shorter.

If the judge believes the DNF score is appropriate, the judge is not obligated to read the entire book.

If, for any reason, a judge believes they are unable to fairly assess a book they should not provide a score and should, instead, immediately contact the RWA Office.