Our contests

RWA has 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.

With the exception of the Ruby Award our contests are open to RWA members only, with eligibility determined by your RWA membership category. Terms and conditions apply.

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

    2023 Contest Timeline

    • The Sapphire Award

      Closed: Monday 3 October 2022

    • The Emerald Award

      Closed: Monday 3 October 2022

    • Ripping Start

      Closed: Friday 28 October 2022

    • Sweet Treats

      Opens: Monday 17 October 2022
      Closes: Monday 14 November 2022

    • Spicy Bites

      Opens: Monday 17 October 2022
      Closes: Monday 14 November 2022 5pm AEDT

    • The Ruby Award

      Opens: Monday 5 December 2022
      Closes: Monday 16 January 2023

    • First Kiss

      Opens: Monday 6 February 2023
      Closes: Monday 27 February 2023

    Contest line-up

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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: Monday 5 December 2022
    Closes:
     Monday 16 January 2023

    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 2022 and 31 December 2022. Limit of 3 entries per entrant.

    Entry fee: $69.00 inc GST (RWA members) $179 inc GST (Non members)

    Terms and conditions
    Sample scoresheet

    Contact the Ruby Coordinator
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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: 6 February 2023 – 5pm AEST
    Closes:
     27 February 2023 – 5pm AEST

    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: $39.00 inc GST

    Terms and conditions
    Sample scoresheet
    Formatting sample

    Contact the First Kiss Coordinator
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    The Sapphire Award is an opportunity for published authors to have an unpublished manuscript judged by readers 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.

    Opens: TBA
    Closes:
     TBA

    Eligibility: RWA Emerging or Established members only, with works of fiction commercially available or contracted. The entry itself must be unpublished/uncontracted.

    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: $49.00 inc GST

    Final Judge: Rachael Donovan, Commissioning Editor - Harlequin

    Terms and conditions
    Sample scoresheet
    Formatting sample

    Contact the Sapphire 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: TBA
    Closes:
    TBA

    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: $49.00 incl GST per entry. (A maximum of two entries are permitted per entrant)

    Final Judge: Beverley Cousins, Publisher -  Penguin Random House

    Terms and conditions
    Sample scoresheet
    Formatting sample

    Contact the Emerald 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: TBA
    Closes:
     TBA

    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: $39.00 inc GST

    Final Judge: Stacey Claire, Editor - Hachette

    Terms and conditions
    Sample scoresheet
    Formatting sample

    Contact the Ripping Start 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 17 October 2022
    Closes:
    Monday 21 November 2022

    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 2023 theme is 'Silk'. 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: $39.00 inc GST

    Terms and conditions
    Sample scoresheet
    Formatting sample

    Contact the Spicy Bites 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 17 October 2022
    Closes:
    Monday 14 November 2022

    Eligibility: All RWA members.

    Entry: A short story to a maximum of 3000 words. The 2023 theme is 'Lollipops'. 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: $39.00 inc GST

    Terms and conditions
    Sample scoresheet
    Formatting sample

    Contact the Sweet Treats Coordinator