Golden Heart Judging

The purpose of RWA’s Golden Heart contest is to promote excellence in the romance genre by recognizing outstanding manuscripts written by members who have not published a Novel or Novella.

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. Judges do not provide feedback, critiques, or reviews.

PAN, PRO, and other interested RWA members are eligible to judge the preliminary round. The final round will be judged by three editors.

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 10% of each category's entries (based on the number of qualified entries received) will advance to the final round. However, no entry receiving less than 80% of the total possible score will advance to the final round.

Final-round entries for the Golden Heart 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, other than editors and/or agents who judge the final round.

Until the contest winners are announced, to protect the integrity of the contest, judges should not discuss the entries, post comments in e-mail, on social media, or review the entries 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.

Judging: Deadline for Score Entry

The deadline to enter preliminary round scores is to be announced.

Judging Instructions:

Once you click on the link to the contest site, your entry assignments will be listed.

  • Click on the edit link next to the entry you wish read and judge.
  • The entry page is divided into two parts; the score section and the entry section. The entry section, which includes the entry title, the synopsis, and the partial manuscript, is located in the lower portion of the screen. The score section is located at the top of the screen.
  • The entry section lists the entry title and the entry category.
  • Click on either the partial or synopsis .pdf page icon. The document will open in a new tab, within your Internet browser, allowing you to read it. Once you have read the document close the tab, you will return to the judging page, click on the next .pdf icon and repeat the process
  • Once you have completed reading both the synopsis and partial manuscript you may enter your scores.
  • Locate the Ratings field, click the Click to edit
  • Select the appropriate score from the pull down menu.
  • Click Yes or No next to the following three questions:
    • 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? 

(The synopsis may help you in answering the three questions)

  • Click the Draft link above the Rate Entry box, and select Final.
  • Click the Back to Judgings button. You will return to the list of assigned entries.

    Contact Carol Ritter at contests@rwa.org or 832-717-5200, Ext. 127, with questions.