2018 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.


All entrants are required to judge the preliminary round. Others eligible to judge are authors who are PAN-eligible. The final round will be judged by PAN members. 

Online sign-up to judge the contest opens at 9:00 a.m. CT on October 3, 2017

Read the Judge Participation Agreement

Click Here to Judge the 2018 RITA Contest

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). Decimals (from .1 to .9) are STRONGLY encouraged to help avoid the possibility of a tie. Judges are encouraged to think of the points system as equivalent to a classroom grading scale:

9.0–10.0: Excellent
8.0–8.9: Good
7.0–7.9: Average
6.0–6.9: Below average
5.0–5.9: Marginal
4.0–4.9: Poor
Below 4.0: Very poor

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 three negative responses to any one question, the entry is disqualified.

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.