The Vivian: 2021 Rules


Purpose
Fees
Entrant Eligibility
Entry Caps and Deadlines
Entry Requirements
Entry Category Eligibility
Category Descriptions
Scoring Overview
Judging and Judges
Finalists and Winners



Purpose

The Vivian recognizes excellence in romance writing and showcases author talent and creativity. We celebrate the power of the romance genre with its central message of hope--because happily ever afters are for everyone.

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Fees

Entry fee for RWA members will be $50.00 and $100.00 for non-members. Fees for second book entered by the same author will be the same as for their first entry.

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Entrant Eligibility

  • The Vivian Contest will be open to members and non-members, with members having the initial registration priority. Members will be able to enter one title in the week before entry to non-members opens. 

  • Any lapse in membership during the course of the contest by the author(s) which is defined as - from the time of entry to the winners’ ceremony- will result in the author(s) being required to renew within 10 (ten) days of notification or the entry will be disqualified.

  • If the entry is a collaboration, all collaborators must be RWA members in good standing to qualify for the lower entry fees.

  • Entrants must be 18 (eighteen) years of age by the date of entry.

  • Entrants are required to indicate their acceptance of the contest terms.

  • Neither RWA employees nor members of their immediate families are eligible to enter or judge the contest. “Immediate family” is defined as spouse, parents and children. Adopted, foster and step are included in this definition.

  • Entry to the “Most Anticipated” category is open to entrants who have not accepted a publishing offer for, or Self-Published, a work of original fictional narrative prose of 20,000 words or more under any pen name by January 4, 2021. 

 
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Entry Caps and Deadlines

Entry Cap

  • We are anticipating 2,100 paid entries this year. We need to ensure there is a sufficient number of qualified judges, each judge scoring no more than eight entries. If the final entry cap must be adjusted, that will be announced prior to the opening of the contest.

  • Each entrant may submit up to two entries. Members will be able to enter one title for the first two weeks the contest is open. Non-members will be able to enter one title for the second week the contest is open. Members and non-members will be able to enter a second title from the third week the contest is open until the maximum number of entries is reached or the contest closes, whichever comes first.   

  • Individual categories do not have entry caps, including “Most Anticipated.”

Deadlines

  • Provided the contest hasn’t achieved the maximum number of entries before that time, entries must be received no later than 5 p.m. CT on November 20, 2020. Entry forms received after the deadline will not be processed and a refund will be issued.

  • Books must be submitted to RWA’s contest site no later than 5 p.m. CT, January 4, 2021. Entrants who fail to meet this deadline will be disqualified, and the entry fee will be forfeited.

  • Entry forms received after the deadline will not be processed and a refund will be issued.


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Entry Requirements

All Entries

  • Entries must be a work of original Romance Fiction. In order to be defined as a romance, all entries must have the following:
    • A Central Love Story: The main plot centers around individuals falling in love and struggling    to make the relationship work. A writer can include as many subplots as he/she wants as long as the love story is the main focus of the novel.
    • An Emotionally Satisfying and Optimistic Ending: In a romance, the lovers who risk and struggle for each other and their relationship are rewarded with emotional justice and unconditional love.

  • If applicable, placement of watermarks shall be restricted to the header and footer of each page of the book. Watermarks placed across the text of the pages may result in disqualification of the entry.

  • RWA reserves the right to administratively disqualify an entry. In that case, the entry fee will be refunded and the file deleted.

Published Entries:

  • Entry must have an English language publication date of 2019 or 2020, or in the case of a serialized work submitted as a whole, an original English language publication date of 2019 or 2020 for the final installment of that work.

  • Entry must not have been entered in whole or part into previous contests for published works administered by the RWA national organization (e.g., the RITA contest). As a one-time exception due to the cancellation of the 2020 RITA contest, works that were submitted into the 2019 RITA contest and have a 2019 English language publication date are eligible for the 2021 Vivian contest.

  • Entry must be an English language edition.

  • Entry must be submitted as a single PDF file, with copyright page and authorized by the publisher. Entrants are encouraged to submit other file formats in addition to the required PDF file.

  • Entry must meet the requirements for the category in which it is entered. A book may not be entered into more than one category.

  • If a novel is published as part of a collection, the entire collection does not need to be entered into the contest.

  • A collection of novels in one volume does not constitute one entry. Each work must be entered and uploaded separately and the appropriate fee must be paid for each entry.

“Most Anticipated” Entries

  • “Most Anticipated” entries must not have been published, in whole or part, prior to entry. Also, by entering the “Most Anticipated” category, entrants agree to hold their manuscript from publication until after the announcement of the winners.

  • Finalists cannot enter the same manuscript in the “Most Anticipated” category again. Doing so will result in disqualification and the entrant will be barred from entering the “Most Anticipated” category in the following year. Previous entry into the Golden Heart contest will NOT disqualify the entry for The Vivian.

  • “Most Anticipated” entries must be submitted as a single PDF file. Entrants are encouraged to submit other file formats in addition to the required PDF file.

  • The work must be completed and ready to be submitted to an agent/editor or self-published.

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Entry Category Eligibility

Published Entries

  • The entrant selects the category. Entrants may indicate permission for their entry to be moved within the original genre to the category closest in terms of length (e.g., from Historical Romance-Long to Historical Romance-Mid) or may designate a second category for the work, in the event the original category selected does not receive the required number of entries to be judged.

  • Categories with fewer than 40 entries will not be judged. In the event the entrant’s originally selected category does not receive the required number of entries to be judged and the entrant has not indicated permission for the entry to be moved within the original genre or has not designated a secondary category, the entry fees will be returned.

  • A book may not be entered in more than one category. For example: a historical novel that has a strong suspense element may be entered in Romantic Suspense or Historical Romance, but not in both.

  • No category changes may be made after the contest entry deadline, with the exception of entries in a canceled category.

“Most Anticipated” Entries

  • The “Most Anticipated” Category must receive a minimum of 40 entries.

  • If the minimum number of entries is not received, the Most Anticipated category will no longer be available, and entrants will have their entry fees refunded.

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Category Descriptions

  • All entries must contain a central love story and the resolution of the romance must be emotionally satisfying and optimistic.

  • Word count is determined based on computer word count. A plus or minus two percent of the total word count is permissible.

  • With the exception of Erotic Romance, all categories may have varying levels of sensuality.

  • Entries to categories without a length designation must be 20,000 words or more.

Best First Published Book

A work entered in another contest category with the exception of “Most Anticipated.” To be eligible, the author (or authors in the case of a writing team) shall not have had any other novel or novella previously commercially available in any format.

Contemporary Romance – Long

Works that are set no more than 50 years prior to the contest date to the present that are 80,000 or more words in length.

Contemporary Romance – Mid

Works that are set no more than 50 years prior to the contest date to the present that are between 50,000 and 80,000 words in length.

Contemporary Romance – Short

Works that are set no more than 50 years prior to the contest date to the present that are between 20,000 and 50,000 words in length.

Erotic Romance

Novels in which strong, often explicit, sexual interaction is an inherent part of the love story, character growth and relationship development and could not be removed without damaging the storyline. These novels may contain elements of other romance subgenres (such as paranormal, historical, etc.). Entries

Historical Romance – Long

Works that are set at least 50 years prior to the contest date that are 80,000 or more words in length.

Historical Romance – Mid

Works that are set at least 50 years prior to the contest date that are between 50,000 and 80,000 words in length.

Historical Romance – Short

Works that are set at least 50 years prior to the contest date that are between 20,000 and 50,000 words in length.

Mainstream Fiction with a Central Romance

Works in which themes or elements other than the romance are integral to the story even though a central love story and an emotionally satisfying and optimistic resolution to the romance are still present. This category is intended for romances that do not fit neatly into any other category due to their mainstream fiction nature but where the central romance could not be removed without damaging the storyline.

Most Anticipated Romance

Original works of Romance Fiction that meet the stated entry requirements and are submitted by entrants who meet the eligibility requirements for this category. Entries in this category may be of any romance subgenre as defined by the Category Descriptions. 

Romance with Religious or Spiritual Elements

Works in which spiritual beliefs are an inherent part of the love story, character growth or relationship development, and could not be removed without damaging the storyline. These novels may be set in the context of any religious or spiritual belief system of any culture.

Romantic Suspense – Long

Works in which suspense, mystery, or thriller elements constitute an integral part of the plot that are 80,000 or more words in length.

Romantic Suspense – Mid

Works in which suspense, mystery, or thriller elements constitute an integral part of the plot that are between 50,000 and 80,000 words in length.

Romantic Suspense – Short

Works in which suspense, mystery, or thriller elements constitute an integral part of the plot that are between 20,000 and 50,000 words in length.

Speculative Romance – Long

Works in which fantasy worlds or paranormal or science fiction elements are an integral part of the plot that are 80,000 or more words in length.

Speculative Romance – Mid

Works in which fantasy worlds or paranormal or science fiction elements are an integral part of the plot that are between 50,000 and 80,000 words in length.

Speculative Romance – Short

Works in which fantasy worlds or paranormal or science fiction elements are an integral part of the plot that are between 20,000 and 50,000 words in length.

Young Adult Romance

Works in which young adult life is an integral part of the plot.


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Scoring Overview

  • All final categories will have one winner.

  • The official list of finalists will be posted on RWA’s website by 2:00 p.m. CT on March 29, 2021. On March 29, 2021, the RWA staff shall notify finalists via email.

  • Final scores will be made available to the author once the contest is concluded and winners have been announced.

View Rubrics

Round One Scoring

  • The purpose of this first round is to establish a minimum standard for submissions.

  • Round One will have three judges per entry.

  • Although the judges will receive the entire work, they will be instructed to read only Chapter One (or the Prologue and Chapter One if a prologue is present) and answer five yes/no questions.

  • Each entry will receive a total of 15 answers (five yes/no answers times three judges). Every entry that receives seven or more 'yes' answers will progress to Round Two.

Round Two Scoring

  • Round Two will have five judges per entry.

  • The judges will read the entire book and assign scores according to the rubric.

  • There are 10 areas to be scored per entry, plus a tie-breaker question. The scores for each area will be combined and the entry will receive a score of between 10-100 from each judge. The highest and lowest scores per entry will be dropped. Finalists will be determined based on the average of the remaining three scores.

  • The top scoring 5% of each categories’ entries based on the number of qualified entries received will advance to the Round Three/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 next round.

Round Three Scoring

  • Round Three will have five judges per entry.

  • The judges will read each finalist book in the category they are judging and assign scores according to the rubric.

  • There are five areas to be scored per entry, plus a tie-breaker question. Each entry will receive a score of between 5-25 from each judge. The highest and lowest scores per entry will be dropped. The remaining scores will be combined, and the winners will be determined by the cumulative highest score.

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Judging and Judges

The purpose of The Vivian Contest is to recognize excellence in published romance novels and novellas, and our goal is to create a contest that is equitable and inclusive. Judges must have a deep love for and knowledge of romance fiction and believe that everyone deserves a happily ever after. The ideal judge will be able to provide a fair assessment of all assigned books and will abide by RWA’s core values and our anti-discrimination policy.

Judge Eligibility 

  • Individuals must demonstrate an adequate understanding of romantic fiction to effectively critique story characters and plot. Book reviewers, librarians, professional critics, bookstore personnel, and authors are examples of individuals who possess the background necessary to serve as judges.

  • All judges will go through an application process to affirm qualifications. Applying to judge the contest does not guarantee acceptance.

  • RWA Staff will affirm judges as to qualifications based on eligibility requirements.

  • Selected judges must agree to complete DEIA and contest training and to follow the prescribed rubrics when judging.

  • Entrants to the contest are not required to judge. Judging is therefore voluntary and independent of contest participation as an entrant.

  • Judges will not be eligible to judge the category(ies) in which they are entered.

  • Judges must familiarize themselves with the rubrics and strictly adhere to them when judging entries. The purpose of the rubrics is to minimize bias in judging and elicit useful critiques.

  • First Round judges must read the first chapter (or first chapter and prologue if present) for each assigned entry.

  • Second and Third Round judges must read the entire book or manuscript for each assigned entry.

  • To the extent permitted by law, RWA will track and analyze all submitted scores. In the event there is a concern that a judge’s scores are out of compliance with the rubric or constitute a violation of RWA’s Anti-Discrimination policy, the judge may be contacted for more information. If the explanation given is unsatisfactory, RWA reserves the right to remove an entrant from the Vivian contest and/or the future judging pool. These decisions will be made by RWA staff. Decisions can be appealed to the RWA Board.

First and Second Round Eligible Judges

Individuals who fall under the following categories whose application has been submitted and accepted are eligible to judge the first and second round so long as they have completed the required training:

  • RWA General Members

  • RWA Associate-Writer Members

  • Non-RWA member authors who have published in romance fiction within the past five years, do not work for a publisher or agency, and do not acquire works of romance fiction

  • Book reviewers who have published critiques of at least three works of romance fiction within the year prior to the contest open date and have an established platform or contribute to an established platform such as a personal blog or social media or YouTube account dedicated to posting reviews. Reviewers who post solely on platforms such as Goodreads, BookBub, NetGalley, online retailers, or similar are not eligible.

  • Booksellers and Librarians who are currently employed at a bookstore or library or who have been employed at a bookstore within three years prior to the contest open date.

  • Professional critics who are paid by a media corporation (e.g., The New York Times, Library Journal, etc.) for critiques and have had three published critiques of romance fiction within the year prior to the contest open date.

Third Round Eligible Judges

Individuals who fall under the following categories whose application has been submitted and accepted are eligible to judge the Third so long as they have completed the required training: 

  • Book reviewers who have published critiques of at least three works of romance fiction within the year prior to the contest open date and have an established platform or contribute to an established platform such as a personal blog or social media or YouTube account dedicated to posting reviews. Reviewers who post solely on platforms such as Goodreads, BookBub, NetGalley, online retailers, or similar are not eligible.

  • Booksellers and Librarians who are currently employed at a bookstore or library or who have been employed at a bookstore within three years prior to the contest open date.

  • Professional critics who are paid by a media corporation (e.g., The New York Times, Library Journal, etc.) for critiques and have had three published critiques of romance fiction within the year prior to the contest open date.

Judge Matching

  • Judges will be asked to indicate which categories, subgenres, and sensuality levels they feel they are most qualified to judge and with which they are most familiar.

  • Entrants will be asked to indicate the subgenres and sensuality level their entry contains.

  • Using the above information, entries will be sorted and assigned to judges via a computer program to ensure the judges are both qualified to judge and familiar with the entries they receive.

Confidentiality

  • The identity of the judges and which books they judge is confidential. Communication between judges and entrants is expressly forbidden.

  • 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 should a judge identify the books they judged.

  • All questions about entries should be directed to RWA staff.

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Finalists and Winners

All Categories

  • All final categories will have one winner.

  • All finalists will be recognized during the Vivian Award Ceremony at the RWA National Conference where the winner will be announced.

  • The official list of finalists will be posted on RWA’s website by 2:00 p.m. CT on March 29, 2021. On March 29, 2021, the RWA staff shall notify finalists via email.

Most Anticipated Finalists

Entrants in the Most Anticipated category can opt for their manuscript, should it be a finalist, to be made available to acquiring editors and agents who appear on RWA's Qualifying Markets or Eligible Agents list. In order to access finalist manuscripts, qualifying editors and agents will agree to honor all copyrights. 

Most Anticipated Winner

In addition to being named the Most Anticipated book, the winner will receive a thirty-minute career consultation with an editor or agent if the winner is planning to publish traditionally, or with a best-selling or Honor Roll self-published author if the winner plans to publish independently. 


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