Wednesday, August 27, 2014

New RITA & Golden Heart Contest Guidelines by Romance Writers of America

The Romance Writers of America has published their new 2015 RITA & Golden Heart contest rules for published authors and unpublished writers, respectively. Some of the highlights for the RITAs, include:

1. Entrants are required to judge. Entrants will not judge in a category in which they are entered. Judges will be allowed to opt out of two categories.

2. Only the first 2000 entries are accepted.

3. A book may not be entered in more than one category, but there's is no limit to the number of eligible books that may be entered for an author in the same category.

4. Categories with fewer than 50 entries will not be judged.
[Given the currently defined categories, this is not something that will come to pass.]

5. 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.

6. The top scoring 4% of each category’s entries will advance to the final round, excepting that no category will have fewer than 4 finalists or more than 10 finalists.
[Finally, a sensible solution to this year's comical situation wherein there were 17 finalists in the Historical category.]

7. The Contemporary category has books set from 1950 to present date and is to be subdivided thusly: short (40,000–56,000 words), mid-length (56,000–84,000 words), long (more than 84,000 words).

8. The Historical category has books set in time periods prior to 1950 and is to be subdivided thusly: short(40,000–89,000 words) and long (more than 89,000 words).
[While size works well to demarcate groups in the Contemporary category, time periods would work better in Historicals. There are far more books set in the extended Regency period (1800–1837) than are set in other time periods. Expecting those other books to compete with the Regencies is not feasible.]

9. There are no New Adult or Stories with Romantic Elements categories.
[I don't know enough about New Adult to judge—I'd put them in contemporaries—but the SwRE is a serious loss to the contest; some of Romance's best books are written in this category.]


Wendy said...

I'm so glad they addressed the cluster that was last year's contest. My mind still boggles over only 2 inspirational finalists. I mean, really?!

And I'm with you - I want the Strong Romantic Elements category back. So often those are "gateway" books for new romance readers. Also, even with "other stuff" going on, I've found a lot of SRE books to have a really healthy does of relationship "stuff" and romance in them. It's not like it's that far of a stretch.....

Keira Soleore said...

Wendy, the two inspy finalists was incredibly insulting to the sub-genre.

I like the word "gateway books for romance," because indeed those are the ones that are frowned upon less than romance books are—not quite LitFic, but not romance either. However, once people get hooked on to them, then they're more willing to try straight-up romance. It was very shortsighted and inexplicable of RWA to scratch that category.