2018 Indiana Golden Opportunity Contest

Celebrating 28 years of helping romance writers!

  • Trained judges provide feedback with track changes throughout manuscript.
  • In-depth scoring-sheets to better educate writers.
  • TWO acquiring editors judge category finalists.
  • THREE IGO entries won RWA® Golden Heart in last four years!
  • 2016 Romantic Suspense category winner won in 2017
  • 2014 Romantic Suspense Category winner won in 2015
  • 2013 YA Category winner won in 2014.

The Indiana Romance Writers of America’s IGO!!!

We welcome you to the 28th annual Indiana’s Golden Opportunity (IGO), one of the premier chapter contests in RWA®. The Indiana chapter of Romance Writers of America (IRWA) has a well-deserved reputation for offering detailed constructive comments to our entrants from published authors and trained judges. Designed to identify the fundamentals of storytelling, formatting and grammar, our four-page category-specific score sheets will assist entrants by defining the elements in their manuscript that require more attention. Our goal is to assist IGO entrants with constructive feedback to help them polish their manuscripts.

Many past winners have successfully gone on to catch an editor’s eye and/or final and win in RWA’s Golden Heart Contest. Twenty finalists received requests from our fabulous editor judges to see their full manuscripts over the last three years! 


  • In keeping with the ever-changing publishing industry, IGO will offer two (2) acquiring editor judges for each category's finalists—one (1) traditional print and one (1) e-pub when possible.
  • Updated rules, categories, and score sheets


Please read all requirements below!


Please review the category definitions carefully. Manuscripts entered in the wrong category may be disqualified.

Please note that categories may have varying heat levels. All entries should have an emotionally satisfying and optimistic resolution to the romance.

  • Contemporary Romance – Romance manuscripts that focus primarily on the romantic relationship and have a contemporary setting.
  • Erotic Romance – Romance manuscripts in which the 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.
  • Historical Romance – Romance manuscripts set in any historical time period.
  • 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.
  • Paranormal Romance – Romance manuscripts in which the future, a fantasy world, science fiction, or paranormal elements are a key part of the plot.  Anything that isn’t able to be done…time travel, special super powers, alien worlds, creatures that don’t exist.
  • Romantic Suspense – Romance manuscripts in which suspense, mystery, or thriller elements constitute an integral part of the plot.
  • Young Adult Romance – Romance manuscripts geared toward young adult readers.



Contemporary Romance                                                                                    

Traditional Print Editor                Selena James                    Executive Editor Kensington Publishing

E-Pub Editor                                Heather Howland              Editorial Director Entangled Publishing


Erotic Romance                                                                                  

Traditional Print Editor                Sarah Blumenstock            Assistant Editor Berkley Publishing Group

E-Pub Editor                                 Lexi Smail                         Assistant Editor Grand Central Publishing


Historical Romance                                                                                             

Traditional Print Editor                 Madeleine Covalita           Assistant Editor Grand Central Publishing

E-Pub Editor                                  Erin Molta                         Senior Editor Entangled Publishing


Inspirational Romance                                                                       

Traditional Print Editor                  Shana Asaro                      Associate Editor Harlequin Love Inspired

Traditional Print Editor                  Miranda Hill                      Editorial Assistant Berkley Publishing Group                                                                      


Paranormal Romance                                                                                          

Traditional Print Editor                  Norma Perez-Hernandez    Editorial Assistant Kensington Books

E-Pub Editor                                  Angela James                      Editorial Director Carina Press / Harlequin


Romantic Suspense                                                                                            

Traditional Print Editor                 Patience Bloom                   Senior Editor Harlequin Books

E-Pub Editor                                 Deb Nemeth                         Developmental Editor Carina Press


Young Adult Romance                                                                      

Traditional Print Editor                 Lauren Smulski                    Assistant Editor Harlequin Teen

E-Pub Editor                                 Stephanie Taylor                   Owner & Editor in Chief Clean Reads


First place winners in each of the categories will continue to the Best-of-the-Best round.

Best of the Best                                     Lily Choi                               Editorial Assistant Berkley Publishing Group       



AWARDS: Category winners – First place entry will receive $50 and a certificate

                    Best of the Best – Winner will receive a special keepsake award



The Indiana Golden Opportunity contest is open to any unpublished author in novel-length romance fiction. Published authors who have not been contracted for publication or self-published in the romance genre in the past three (3) years are also eligible to enter.  If any rights (print, digital, audio, foreign, etc.) have been contracted to a publisher or exercised through self-publishing in the past three (3) years (2014 to present), author is not eligible to enter. Failure to follow IGO rules will result in disqualification and entry fee will not be refunded.


Note: Previously entered manuscripts that have been revised may be entered again if they did NOT final or win in a prior IGO Contest.  Members of the Indiana Romance Writers of America are not eligible to enter.


Please read all requirements below!






Indiana Golden Opportunity Contest Rules

IGO is 100% electronic. IRWA reserves the right to limit each category to the first thirty (30) paid entries. A category may be dropped if fewer than ten (10) entries are received. Entrants will be contacted about withdrawing from the contest (fee returned) or they may choose an alternate category.

ENTRY FEE: $35.00 (by check or Paypal)


Each entry shall be no longer than fifty-five (55) pages. Entries are comprised of the first pages of the manuscript (including prologue if one is used) and the synopsis. The synopsis may be no longer than ten (10) pages. For example: With a seven (7) page synopsis, the first forty-eight (48) pages of the manuscript should be submitted, for a total of fifty-five (55) pages

Remember, Mac and Windows can cause changes to spacing of a document.  To be safe, leave space so your document doesn’t go over the 55-page limit.

Use a header that includes the contest category, title, and page number on each page. No fancy fonts, size or colors.  Font should be same as entry listed below. To ensure anonymity, author name must not appear on any page, or the entry may be disqualified.

Manuscripts must adhere to industry standards:

  • Standard size page - letter 8.5 x 11
  • 1” margins
  • Chapters headings and synopsis heading should start on NEW page with chapter heading and synopsis heading 1/3 (3 inch mark) down page with double space before chapter start
  • All entry pages double-spaced (including the synopsis)
  • Times New Roman or Courier font
  • 12-point typeface
  • Clean manuscript with no track changes or comments showing
  • .doc or .docx format only 
  • Synopsis should follow manuscript portion of entry

More than one manuscript may be entered, but each entry requires a separate entry form and document file. Name the file: Category-Short Title.doc (or .docx). Example: Historical-Love Long Ago.doc (or .docx)

Note:  A previously entered manuscript that has been revised may be submitted if it did not place in a prior IGO Contes


1. Compile manuscript pages and synopsis into a single document that conforms to the contest regulations in the Format section.

  • Place the synopsis at the end of the entry.
  • The combined document should total no more than fifty-five (55) pages (Standard letter size).
  • Save the document as a .doc or .docx file with this file name.
    • Category-Short Title.doc (.docx)
    • Example: Historical-Love Long Ago.doc (.docx)
  • All manuscripts must be novel or novella length (as defined by RWA), having an anticipated final word count of 20K or more.

2. Please note that all required sections of the IGO Entry Form must be completed in order for the form to be sent to the contest coordinator.  This includes payment information.

3. Two (2) payment options are available.

  • PayPal—To ensure proper matching of the payment to the entry, please include the name on the entry form and the title of the entry on PayPal’s description line.
  • Check—Make checks payable to Indiana Romance Writers and mail to: IRWA Chapter #15, P.O. Box 126, Fishers, IN  46038.  Include name on entry form and title of entry in memo field.

Allow ample time for payment by check to arrive by the deadline. All fees must be paid US dollars. If entering from outside the US, please use the PayPal option.

4. All correspondence will be done through e-mail. Score sheets and judged entries will be returned to the entrants as .doc or .docx files.

5. Contact the Category Coordinator or contest chair with questions.


Two (2) trained judges will judge each entry in the first round. IRWA requires that all IGO judges be chapter members and undergo chapter-hosted training.

Manuscripts entered in the wrong category may be disqualified. Please review the category definitions before submission.

Following standard publishing industry practices in the USA, IGO uses only Track Changes for comments within the entry.

In the case of a seventy-five (75) point disparity between first-round scores, the entry will be sent to a discrepancy judge. The two (2) closest scores will be used for scoring purposes. All three (3) judged entries and score sheets will be returned to the entrant.

The top three (3) scoring entries in each category will be sent to the two (2) acquiring editors for final ranking. If a tie results in a category during round 1, the synopsis scores will be used to determine the 3 category finalists. (IRWA’s goal is for (2) editors to judge finalists. If an editor backs out and is not able to be replaced, a single editor will judge the finalists.)

The editors will rank the category finalists with the lowest score winning.  If a tie results with the editor rankings, winner will be determined by highest first round score.

The first place winner in each category will move on to the Best-of-the-Best editor to determine the overall winner.


  • Contemporary Romance
  • Erotic Romance
  • Historical Romance
  • Romance with Religious or Spiritual Elements
  • Paranormal Romance
  • Romantic Suspense
  • Young Adult Romance


  • Finalists will be notified on or about September 8-10, 2018.
  • Non-finalist entries will be returned on or about September 20, 2018.
  • Category winners will be announced on or about October 14, 2018.
  • Best of the Best will be announced on or about November 20, 2018.

Notification dates are tentative. We always try to get finalist and winning results back before the deadline, but we cannot guarantee it.


E-mail questions to the appropriate category coordinator or the IGO Contest Chair, Lynne Greeley at IRWA_IGO@yahoo.com.

Category                                                                     E-mail Address

Contemporary Romance                                            IGO.Contemporary@yahoo.com  

Erotic Romance                                                         IGO.EroticRomance@yahoo.com  

Historical Romance                                                   IGO.Historical@yahoo.com   

Romance w/Religious or Spiritual Elements             IGO.InspirationalRomance@yahoo.com 

Paranormal Romance                                                 IGO.Paranormal@yahoo.com   

Romantic Suspense                                                    IGO.RomanticSuspense@yahoo.com

Young Adult Romance                                               IGO.YoungAdultRomance@yahoo.com