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Contest NameOpens 1700 AEST onCloses 1700 AEST on
Ripping StartMonday 7 September 2020Monday 28 September 2020
The Sapphire AwardMonday 14 September 2020Monday 5 October 2020
Publishing BasicsMonday 5 October 2020Monday 26 October 2020
The Emerald AwardMonday 26 October 2020Monday 16 November 2020
The Ruby AwardsMonday 14 December 2020Monday 18 January 2021
Spicy BitesMonday 4 January 2021Monday 25 January 2021
Sweet TreatsMonday 4 January 2021Sunday 25 January 2021
First KissMonday 8 February 2021Monday 1 March 2021
The Valerie Parv AwardMonday 5 April 2021Monday 25 April 2021

Romance Writers of Australia runs a range of contests each year for published and unpublished writers.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 Contest judges are published and unpublished writers, or, for selected contests only, readers.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The Emerald Award is our major contest for unpublished writers and offers a unique opportunity to have your full manuscript judged if you make the second round.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 2020 RUBY (for books published in 2019) open in December 2019.

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.

The Valerie Parv Award offers the winner a year of mentorship with bestselling Australian romance author Valerie Parv. Enter the first 10,000 words of your romance or romantic elements manuscript (40K+) along with a 1,000-word synopsis.

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.