Romance Writers of Australia runs a range of contests each year for published and unpublished writers.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 Contest judges are published and unpublished writers, or, for selected contests only, readers.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.

See below, and the individual contest pages, for details.

Dates for the 2018/19 contest season

Ripping Start – Opens 3 September 2018 Closes 23 September 2018

Selling Submission Opens 8 October 2018 Closes 29 October 2018

Emerald & Emerald Pro Opens 29 October 2018 Closes 19 November 2018

Ruby Opens 17 December 2018 Closes 21 January 2019

Little Gems & Spicy Bites – Opens 7 January 2019 Closes 28 January 2019

First Kiss Opens 4 February 2019 Closes 25 February 2019

Valerie Parv Award Opens 8 April 2019 Closes 29 April 2019


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The Emerald Award is our major contest for unpublished writers and offers a unique opportunity to have your full manuscript judged if you make the second round.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 Emerald Pro is an equivalent contest for published writers who wish to try a new sub-genre they’ve never published in before.

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.

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 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 Selling Submission tests your synopsis, query letter, and blurb-writing skills. Enter your submission for the chance to impress an agent or editor.

The Little Gems 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 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 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 Short Sweet Romance, Short Sexy Romance, Long Romance, and Romantic Elements novels, and Novellas.
Entries for the 2019 RUBY (for books published in 2018) open in December 2018.

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 are summarised at Stephie Smith’s web page. Check the individual RWA chapter websites for full details.

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