2019 RITA Contest Rules
Entry Category Eligibility
Category Descriptions and Judging Guidelines
Announcement of Finalists
The entry fee for RWA members is $50 for the first entry, $75 for the second entry, and $100 for the third entry. Each entrant may enter a maximum of three entries during the first seven days. After this period, the entrant may submit additional entries, at $100 each, for up to a combined total of six. The entry fee for non-members is $170.
Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
The purpose of RWA’s RITA Contest is to promote excellence in the romance genre by recognizing outstanding published novels and novellas.
For the purposes of the RITA Contest:
is a work of fiction of 40,000 words or more as determined by computer word count.
is a work of fiction of 20,000–40,000 words as determined by computer word count.
Entrants determine the appropriate category to enter based on computer word count. As authors cannot always be certain of the final word count after editing, for purposes of these rules, a small amount of flexibility (2 percent of the total word count) over or under a required word limit is permissible.
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.
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.
A judge in the preliminary round may give an entry a DNF (Did Not Finish) score as defined in P&PM section 17.8.
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.
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 fewer than 4 finalists and no category will have more than 10 finalists. Any fraction will be rounded up to the next whole number, not to exceed 10 finalists.
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. All questions about entries should be directed to RWA staff.
Each author's preliminary-round scores will be made available to the author once the contest is concluded and winners have been announced.
Within two weeks after the winners are announced, the files will be deleted from RWA’s contest system.
The RITA Contest is open to members of RWA as well as non-members, but priority will be given to members. Any lapse in membership during the course of the contest by the author(s) (from the time of entry until the winners are announced at the Awards Ceremony) will result in the author(s) being required to renew within 10 days of notification or the entry will be disqualified.
If an entry is the result of collaboration, all collaborators must be RWA members in good standing in order to qualify for the lower entry fee.
All entrants are required to judge the preliminary round. Others eligible to judge are authors who are PAN-eligible. Final round categories will be judged by a panel of five judges. Staff shall make every reasonable effort to have one of the five judges for each panel come from one of the following groups, in order of preference: Past Librarian or Bookseller of the Year, a Lifetime Achievement Award winner, nominated Librarian or Booksellers of the Year or former non-acquiring publishing professionals who did not perform any work on any books which they are asked to judge. The rest of each panel shall be pulled from the following groups in no particular order: Honor Roll members, Past RITA award winners, Past RITA award finalists, General PAN.
Entrants must be 18 years of age by the date of entry.
Entrants are required to acknowledge the RITA Contestant’s Agreement by signing the entry form or checking a box on the website indicating their acceptance of terms.
Neither employees of RWA nor members of their immediate families are eligible to enter or judge any RWA contest. “Immediate family” is defined as spouse, parents and children. Adopted, foster and step members are included in this definition.
The RITA contest is open to 2,000 paid entries.
Entry forms and fees must be received no later than 5 p.m. CT, November 21, 2018.
Entry forms received after the deadline will not be processed. Checks will be returned to the entrant.
Books must be submitted to RWA’s contest site no later than 5 p.m. CT, January 3, 2019.
Entrants who fail to meet this deadline will be disqualified, and the entry fee will be forfeited.
A book entered in the 2019 RITA Contest must:
- Be a work of original Romance Fiction, which means the work contains a central love story, and the resolution of the romance must be emotionally satisfying and optimistic.
- Have an English language publication date of 2018, or in the case of a serialized work submitted as a whole, an original English language publication date of 2018 for the final installment of that work.
- Not have been previously entered in whole or in part.
- Be submitted as a single PDF file, complete with copyright page, and authorized by the publisher. For purposes of self-published works, the author is the publisher. Additional formats optional.
- If applicable, placement of watermarks shall be restricted to the header or footer of each page of the book. Watermarks placed across the text of the page may result in disqualification of the entry.
- Be an English language edition.
- Meet the requirements for the category in which it is entered
RWA reserves the right to administratively disqualify an entry. The entry fee will be refunded and the file will be deleted for any entry administratively disqualified.
*“Original publication date of 2018” means that the book was originally published in 2018 and has a Notice of Copyright date no later than 2018. A book with a Notice of Copyright date prior to 2018, which was not published until 2018, will be eligible. A book published prior to 2018, which lists a Notice of Copyright date of 2018 in the originally published edition, will also be eligible. The intent of this definition is that every book should be eligible for consideration exactly once.
One PDF file of the book is required for the preliminary round. This book file will be distributed to a panel of judges in the preliminary round. If the book advances to the final round, the book file will be distributed to an additional panel of judges.
If a novel/novella is published as part of a collection, it is not necessary for each work in the collection to be entered in the contest. Each work will be entered independently.
A collection of novels/novellas in one volume does not constitute a single entry; rather, each work must be entered and uploaded separately. The appropriate fee will be paid for each entry.
Entrants who enter more than two titles may be required to judge an additional panel of books in the preliminary round.
Entry Category Eligibility
The entrant selects the category. Entrants may designate a second category for the work in the event the first-choice category does not receive the required number of entries to be judged or the provisional cap has been reached for their primary category.
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.
Each entrant may enter a maximum of three entries during the first seven days. After this period, the entrant may submit additional entries up to a combined total of six.
After the first entry, the cost of each subsequent entry will increase.
Categories with fewer than 40 entries will not be judged. If a secondary category has not been designated, the entry fees will be returned. No category changes can be made after the entry deadline, with the exception of entries in a cancelled category.
Confirmations will be sent to the email addresses of the entrants.
Category Descriptions and Judging Guidelines
All entries must contain a central love story and the resolution of the romance must be emotionally satisfying and optimistic.
With the exception of Erotic Romance, all categories may have varying levels of sensuality.
Contemporary Romance: Long
Novels that are set from 1950 to the present that are 84,000 or more words.
Contemporary Romance: Mid-Length
Novels that are set from 1950 to the present that are between 56,000 and 84,000 words in length.
Contemporary Romance: Short
Novels that are set from 1950 to the present that are between 40,000 and 56,000 words in length.
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.).
Historical Romance: Long
Novels that are set prior to 1950 and that are longer than 89,000 words.
Historical Romance: Short
Novels that are set prior to 1950 and that are between 40,000 and 89,000 words.
Mainstream Fiction with a Central Romance
Mainstream Fiction novels 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.
Novels in which fantasy worlds or paranormal or science fiction elements are an integral part of the plot.
Novellas are between 20,000 and 40,000 words.
Romance with Religious or Spiritual Elements
Novels in which religious or spiritual beliefs are an inherent part of the love story, character growth and 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.
Novels in which suspense, mystery, or thriller elements constitute an integral part of the plot.
Young Adult Romance
Novels in which young adult life is an integral part of the plot.
Best First Book
A Novel entered in another contest category. 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.
Announcement of Finalists
The official list of finalists will be posted on RWA’s website by 2:00 p.m. CT on March 21, 2019. On March 21, 2019, the RWA staff shall notify finalists via email.