Contest NameOpens 1700 AEST onCloses 1700 Sydney time on
Ripping StartMonday 6 September 2021Monday 27 September 2021
The Sapphire AwardMonday 13 September 2021Monday 18 October 2021
The Emerald AwardMonday 13 September 2021Monday 18 October 2021
Publishing BasicsMonday 4 October 2021Monday 25 October 2021
The Ruby AwardsMonday 13 December 2021Monday 17 January 2022
Spicy BitesMonday 3 January 2022Monday 24 January 2022
Sweet TreatsMonday 3 January 2022Monday 24 January 2022
First KissMonday 7 February 2022Monday 28 February 2022

Romance Writers of Australia runs a range of contests each year for published and unpublished writers. The contest year runs from August through to June, and the winners’ awards are made at the RWA conference in August. Our contests offer finalists the chance to have their manuscripts read by acquiring editors and/or literary agents. All entrants will receive scoresheets and judges’ feedback to help improve their work. Contest judges are published and unpublished writers, or, for selected contests only, readers.

Note: our contest eligibility conditions have been updated in accordance with the new RWA membership categories. Your eligibility for each contest will depend on your membership category and whether you have works of fiction commercially available.



What are the contests?

Please click on the links below (or in the Contests drop-down menu above) for more information, including opening/closing dates, formatting instructions, entry fees/conditions and eligibility criteria.

The Emerald Award is our major contest for unpublished writers and offers a unique opportunity to have your full manuscript judged if you make the second round. Initial entry is the first 10,000 words of your manuscript. 

The First Kiss gives you the opportunity to showcase that romantic tension. Enter a 1500-word scene involving your protagonists’ first kiss, plus a half-page set-up.

The Ripping Start is for the first 1,500 words of your romance or romantic elements novel or novella. A great way to hone your hook.

The Romantic Book of the Year (R♥BY) is our contest for published novels and novellas by Australian or New Zealand authors. It includes sections for Contemporary, Historical, Suspense, Speculative and Romantic Elements.
Entries for the 2021 RUBY (for books published in 2020) open in December 2020.

The Sapphire Award is a great opportunity for published writers to have an unpublished manuscript judged by reader judges before the final three go to a publisher for final judging. The first round is for the first 10,000 words, second and final rounds are for the full manuscript. 

The Publishing Basics contest looks at what a makes a reader buy your book. Whether you are indie or tradionally published, the person you have to impress is the reader. Designed to mimic a “sample buy”, this contest looks at your first two chapters, blurb, tagline and author bio. This contest is open to all membership levels.

The Spicy Bites contest (also open to published authors) is for erotic romantic short stories up to 5000 words and offers finalists the chance to have their story published in an RWA anthology.

The Sweet Treats contest (also open to published authors) is for sweet romantic short stories up to 3000 words and offers finalists the chance to have their story published in an RWA anthology.

Looking for more contests?

In Australia, each state has a Writers’ Centre. Membership of the centre will give you access to the list of many competitions being held right across Australia in various forms of writing.

Romance Writers of America contests can be found on the RWAmerica web site at the Awards page. Also check the individual RWA chapter websites for full details of their contests.

Romance Writers of New Zealand contests can be found at their website.