Our contests

We have a long and proud history of providing contest opportunities across multiple sub-genres for authors at all levels of their careers. Our first contests were run in 1992, and since then we have offered multiple contests each year for those wanting to display their talent and receive valuable feedback about their work.

Our contests are judged by a mixture of other writers, avid romance readers, acquiring editors and literary agents, giving you the chance to get your work seen by a range of industry professionals.

Contest winners are presented at our annual conference Gala Awards dinner in August each year.

Currently open

No contests are currently open. Please check back soon.

    2024 Contest Timeline

    • The Opal Award

      Opens: 4 March 2024

    • The Emerald Award

      Opens: September 2024

    • Sweet Treats

      Opens: October 2024

    • Spicy Bites

      Opens: October 2024

    • Diversions

      Opens: October 2024

    • The Ruby Award

      CLOSED

    • First Kiss

      Closed for 2024.

    • Ripping Start

      Closed for 2024.

    Contest line-up

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    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.

    Opens: 5 February 2024
    Closes:
    26 February 2024

    Eligibility: RWA Aspiring or Emerging members only.

    Entry: One scene up to 1500 words (max) depicting the first kiss between your protagonists. A half page set up should also be included, which is also judged.

    Entry fee: $20.00 inc GST

    Final Judge: TBA

    Terms and conditions
    Sample scoresheet
    Formatting sample

    Contact the First Kiss Coordinator
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    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.

    Opens: 5 February 2024
    Closes:
    26 February 2024

    Eligibility: RWA Aspiring or Emerging members only, with no works 10K+ commercially available. Work (10K+) from which entry is taken must not be commercially available. Up to two entries per member are permitted.

    Entry: The first 1,500 words (max) of your manuscript plus a mini synopsis (300 word (max) overview that should tell judges what your story is about, complete with the ending/resolution). Entries are to be uploaded via an online form.

    Entry fee: $20.00 inc GST

    Final Judge: TBA

    Terms and conditions
    Sample scoresheet
    Formatting sample

    Contact the Ripping Start Coordinator
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    The Opal is a contest for unpublished romance writers to win the opportunity for short mentorships with established RWA authors. There will be two rounds of judging and a group of established RWA authors who will mentor the finalists will choose the final placings.

    Opens: Monday 4 March 2024
    Closes: Monday 25 March 2024

    Eligibility: All unpublished romance authors.

    Entry: The first 10 000 of an unpublished/uncontracted romance or romantic elements manuscript plus a 1000-word synopsis. Entries are to be uploaded to an online form.

    Entry fee: $50.00 inc GST (RWA members), $70.00m inc GST (Non members). A maximum of two entries are permitted per entrant.

    Terms and conditions
    Sample scoresheet
    Formatting sample

    Contact the Opal Coordinator
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    The Emerald Award is our major contest for unpublished writers, offering 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.

    Opens: 11 September 2023
    Closes:
    2 October 2023

    Eligibility: RWA Aspiring or Emerging members only, with no works 10K+ commercially available.

    Entry: The first 10,000 words of your unpublished/uncontracted romance or romantic elements manuscript (10K+). Entrants who reach the second round will need to submit their full manuscript. Entries are to be uploaded to an online form.

    Entry fee: $25.00 incl GST per entry. (A maximum of two entries are permitted per entrant)

    Final Judge: TBA

    Terms and conditions
    Sample scoresheet
    Formatting sample

    Contact the Emerald Coordinator
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    Sweet Treats is for romantic short stories that use the theme as an integral part of the story that have a medium heat level with no sexually explicit scenes. Finalists will have their story published in an RWA anthology.

    Opens: Monday 2 October 2023
    Closes:
     Monday 23 October 2023

    Eligibility: All RWA members.

    Entry: A short story to a maximum of 3000 words. The 2024 theme is 'Bubbles'. We recommend entrants read previous Sweet Treats anthologies to get a feel for the variety of responses to the themes and story format which have been successful. Entries are to be uploaded via an online form.

    Entry fee: $20.00 inc GST

    Terms and conditions
    Sample scoresheet
    Formatting sample

    Contact the Sweet Treats Coordinator
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    Spicy Bites is for erotic short stories that use the theme as an integral part of the story which have a high heat level with sexually explicit scenes. Finalists will have their story published in an RWA anthology.

    Opens: Monday 2 October 2023
    Closes:
     Monday 23 October 2023

    Eligibility: All RWA members.

    Entry: A short story to a maximum of 3000-5000 words. The story must be a romance (HEA/HFN) with a sexually explicit storyline. All subgenres. The 2024 theme is 'Batteries'. We recommend entrants read previous Spicy Bites anthologies to get a feel for the variety of responses to the themes and story format which have been successful. Entries are to be uploaded via an online form.

    Entry fee: $20.00 inc GST

    Terms and conditions
    Sample scoresheet
    Formatting sample

    Contact the Spicy Bites Coordinator
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    Diversions is for short stories of any heat level that use the theme and diverse leads as integral parts of the story. Finalists will have their story published in an RWA anthology.

    Opens: Monday 2 October 2023
    Closes: Tuesday 31st October 2023

    Eligibility: RWA members and all authors publishing romance in Australia and New Zealand.

    Entry: A short story to a maximum of 4000. The story must be a romance (HEA/HFN) featuring diverse leads from underrepresented and marginalized groups. All subgenres. The 2024 theme is 'Lights'. Entries are to be uploaded via an online form.

    Entry fee: RWA Members: $20.00 inc GST - Non-members $30.00 inc GST

    Terms and Conditions
    Sample scoresheet
    Formatting sample

    Contact the Diversions Coordinator
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    The Romantic Book of the Year (RUBY) is our contest for published novels and novellas by Australian or New Zealand authors. It includes sections for Contemporary, Historical, Suspense, Speculative Fiction, Romantic Elements and Novella.

    Opens: 4 December 2023
    Closes:
    15 January 2024

    Eligibility: Work published in Australia and New Zealand only.

    Entry: Romantic novels (40K+) and novellas (10K–40K) which were first published (in digital or print) between 1 January 2023 and 31 December 2023. Limit of 3 entries per entrant. You must submit a PDF, EPUB and Mobi copy of your book. To make this easier, please visit Convertio.

    Entry fee: $30.00 inc GST (RWA members), $50.00 inc GST (Non members)

    2024-RubyConditions

    Sample scoresheet

    Contact the Ruby Coordinator

      Looking for more contests?

      Each Australian state has a Writers’ Centre. For more information about the contests they are running, please see their websites.

      Writing NSW
      Writers Victoria
      Queensland Writers Centre
      Writing WA
      Writers SA
      ACT Writers
      Northern Territory Writers Centre
      TasWriters

      Internationally, we also have several options for contests.

      Romance Writers of New Zealand
      Romance Writers of America - Organisation and individual chapters
      Romantic Novelist Association (UK)
      Romance Writers of Atlantic Canada