RITA Contest: Curious Minds Want to Know

Yay! RITA judging season is over, which means we will soon be announcing finalists whose books are the best of the best of romance fiction. Making the calls to those finalists is my favorite part of being on the Board; I love hearing the excitement in the voices of first-time authors as well as those getting their tenth call. The thrill just never ends.

That said, I’m wondering just how thrilling the judging is for our members.

Now that the scores have been turned in and the process is still fresh on your minds, I’d like to ask for your opinions. Nothing formal—we’re not doing a survey—but the Board tackles the issue of the RITAs every year at the July meeting. I’d like for us to have some input from the membership before we go back to the drawing board. The contest runs pretty well, but it’s not perfect, as evidenced by how quickly it filled up this year, despite our best efforts. We want it to be fair; we also want to elevate the contest, to get attention out in the marketplace, and to improve the value for our members.

So I’m curious:

  • How do you think the judging went this year? Did you like the new, brief overview about what scores mean? Do you think two rounds is sufficient to find the very best of romance fiction, or do you think RWA should find a way to add a third round?
  • How would you feel about having an all-electronic RITA contest? While it would be a big change for some, there are a lot of members who only read e-books who might join the judging pool. It would also enable us to give judges more time to judge, and, potentially, open up slots for more entrants and ease a tremendous amount of pressure on the staff.
  • Do you think judges should be able to state that they weren’t able to finish a book due strictly to writing quality or errors in the book after they read, perhaps, 50–100 pages? Would that enable you to take more entries to judge, thereby allowing us to open up more slots for authors who want to enter?
  • What did you think about the entry cap? Every year, we try new ways to make sure every member who wants to enter can do so, which was the reason for the per-author cap this year. Obviously, given how fast the contest closed, people were left disappointed. So, what do you think about capping?
  • We added the Mainstream Fiction with a Central Romance as a provisional category this year. We will evaluate the category again to determine its suitability in the RITA contest. We’d love to hear what you think about this category, too!

Curious minds want to know about all these things, so I wanted to start a discussion about them. If you’d like to let the Board of Directors know what you think, please write to me at president@rwa.org, email board@rwa.org or contact any board member. We really do want to hear from you!

Please note: We’d appreciate it if you’d limit your commentary to the above questions. We aren’t going to overhaul the contest in July, but we would like to accommodate more authors who want to enter, which is the reason most of these options are being considered.

Best wishes and happy writing!

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