ho doesn’t love to read a well-written, lusty, blood-pumping romantic moment? Love scenes are universal. You can find them in mystery, fantasy, sci-fi, romance, historical and mainstream fiction. Poetry is alive with love.
The romance genre is about the hottest, fastest selling category of writing on the market. Luckily, the romance writer in you has an amazing array of competitions for your work-in-progress.
Many competitions are underwritten by branches and chapters of the Romance Writers of America - https://www.rwanational.org/ - serving close to 10,000 members. Representing both published and aspiring romance writers, the organization has a strong united front for the genre. If you have any inclination of becoming published in this arena, join RWA. The advice, the elaborate conference, the contests and the strong code of ethics create an environment that nurtures you in your journey toward publication.
“A win almost guarantees exposure to a publisher, and gives the winner a necklace to wear with honor.”
National RWA sponsors two annual contests. For the unpublished author, the key contest is The Golden Heart, which limits entries to 1,200. Pre-judging takes the number down to 100 finalists. A complete manuscript is required for this baby, but keep in mind all of the submitters are unproven writers. Your chances are good, assuming you’ve poured your heart, soul and intellect into the project. With ten categories, your romantic style has a likely niche. A win almost guarantees exposure to a publisher, and gives the winner a necklace to wear with honor.
The romance industry’s highest award is the Rita Award, which is bestowed upon a published author. Again, competition is limited to 1,200 entries, in 13 categories. Winners are held hush-hush secret much like the Oscars, with the honors presented at a formal ceremony at the annual conference. Names like Nora Roberts and Debbie Macomber flaunt these trophies – most definitely a prize to place on your to-do list when you’ve arrived downstream.
But in the meantime, you have stories, chapters, possibly whole manuscripts lying around your desk. They’re probably not good enough, you say. Besides, you’re too embarrassed to let someone read about your hot handsome hunk and his sudden move on your protagonist in chapter nine.
That’s when contests become handy. You’re submitting your romance story to people who adore reading, judging and promoting those beautiful, loving tales that bring passionate lives together on paper for all to enjoy.
“...you’re too embarrassed to let someone read about your hot handsome hunk and his sudden move on your protagonist... That’s when contests become handy.”
What’s great about romance contests is the fact there are so darn many of them! You can submit to competitions about as often as a freelance writer submits to magazines.
With contest deadlines on your calendar, you tend to:
- Finish your project sooner;
- Polish your words brighter;
- Plan your future with more tangible benchmarks.
Just winning honorable mention in these competitions can:
- Prompt you to complete the manuscript and ship it off for consideration;
- Give you a credit to include in your query letter to a publisher or agent;
- Convince an agent or publisher that you’re serious about being a writer;
- Motivate you to write more.
Consider the following competitions to advance your writing career, and these are just a drop in the bucket. If you’ve missed this year’s date, post your calendar for the next go around. These events come around like clockwork, plus you’ll have time to complete that manuscript to the letter-perfect level required of a winning entry.
“…spit-shine those words until they beckon a judge to place your tale in the finalist pile...”
(WOW: Hope, those chocolates look yummy!)
Membership in RWA is required in some, thus the different entry fees, but if you are serious about romance writing, you’ll want to be an RWA member anyway. The networking, the perks and the discounts are worth the investment in your career.
Some of these contests allow published writers and other focus on the new and undiscovered. Most RWA chapters offer a contest for each. Pick what fits you and your story, then spit-shine those words until they beckon a judge to place your tale in the finalist pile – to be reviewed by some legendary agent, editor or publisher. Sure beats the old query method when you’re trying to thrust your manuscript in someone’s hands..
Northwest Indiana Chapter of Romance Writers of America
Grand Beginnings Contest
Submit four copies of the first five pages of your manuscript. Entry fee $20. Deadline Valentine’s Day 2008. Only the first 100 entries accepted. Opened to RWA and non-RWA members.
Heartland Romance Authors of Northwest Missouri
Submit first chapter of the manuscript, not to exceed 25 pages. Synopsis required. Entry fee $25 or $35. Deadline March 1, 2008. Entries limited to 100. Small cash prizes and certificates.
Passionate Ink RWA Chapter
The Passionate Plume Contest for Published Erotica Authors
Stroke of Midnight Contest for Unpublished Erotica Authors
Send the first 35 pages of the manuscript, 20 pages for novellas. Entry fee $15 and $25. Deadline February. Five categories to include novella. Both published and unpublished divisions. Finalists judged by noted agents and publishers in the industry.
Magnolia State Romance Writers
Dixie First Chapter Contest
Submit four copies of up to 25 pages of the first chapter or prologue and first chapter. Entry fee $20 or $25. Deadline March 15, 2008. Membership not required. Must not be published in book-length fiction in last five years.
Maryland Romance Writers
Reveal Your Inner Vixen Contest
Showcases the chemistry between the hero and heroine. The entered scene could be a flirtation, a kiss or a fully described love scene. Deadline June 1, 2008. Details to be released in Spring 2008.
Published Authors’ Special Interest Chapter RWA
Book of Your Heart Contest
Opens in May. Designed for an unpublished romance or mainstream novel manuscript. For published and unpublished authors.
Heart of Denver Romance Writers
The Molly Contest for Unpublished
Aspen Gold Contest for Published
Submit five copies of up to 25 pages and a five-page synopsis. Deadline May. Entry fee $30, $35 and $40. No membership required.
Ohio Valley Romance Writers of America
Enchanted Words Contest
Submit the first five pages of the novel with no more than seven pages of synopsis. Entry fee $20. Deadline November. Small cash prizes and special design award. Must be an RWA member.
Heart and Scroll RWA
Magic Moment Contest
Send first ten pages of manuscript. Entry fee $25 and $30. Deadline April 1, 2008. Open to those unpublished in last five years. First place $100 and certificate. Membership not required.
Florida Romance Writers
Golden Palm Contest
Submit one copy of first chapter and prologue, if applicable, up to 25 pages. Entry fee $25 and $30. Deadline September. Open to unpublished authors of novel-length romantic fiction or unpublished in last five years. Membership not required.
Southwest Florida Romance Writers
Hold Me, Thrill Me Contest
Send first chapter up to 20 pages and one-page synopsis. Entry fee $25. Deadline October. Must be unpublished in book-length fiction. RWA members only. Limited to 100 entries.
Chick Lit Writers
Get Your Stiletto in the Door Contest
Submit up to 35 pages and up to five pages of synopsis. Entry fee $20, $25 and $30. Deadline June. Open to unpublished and writers who have not signed a publishing contract for novel-length fiction within five years. Membership not required.
Silicon Valley Writers
Submit first 15 pages of manuscript. Entry fee $22 and $25. Deadline November. For those unpublished in category entered.
Hudson Valley RWA
Hook, Line and Sinker Contest
Submit four copies of the first three pages of manuscript. Entry fee $10. Deadline November 1. Limited to first 125 entries. Small cash prizes. RWA members only.
First Coast Romance Writers
Submit three copies of the first thirty pages of the manuscript. Entry fee $25. Deadline October. Open to published and unpublished authors. Must be RWA member.
Take a moment and cruise these web sites, too. Read the news and glance at the winners, and you’ll note how many of them achieved contracts with well-known publishers and representation with popular agents. The romance writing community believes in propelling its hard-working members into stardom. Join the ranks and work the competition circuit. Between the critiques and the support, the diligent can achieve the status of published romance author.
C. Hope Clark is editor and founder of FundsforWriters.com and author of The Shy Writer: The Introvert's Guide to Writing Success. She’s published in national publications like Writer’s Digest and The Writer Magazine and trade magazines like TURF, Next Step, College Bound Teen, American Careers and Landscape Management. Writer’s Digest selected her web site in its 101 Best Web Sites for Writers, for the last seven years in a row.