RWA Changes, Pt 1

Romance Writers of America announced their decisions regarding several major categories of importance to its membership today. If you are a member, log in, then click on the board decisions link. Among the changes were:

  • Publisher eligibility
  • Published Author Network (PAN) and PRO (career-focused unpublished writers) eligibility
  • Rita and Golden Heart contest categories.

There’s so much to go into with these changes that it’s going to take a while to sort through and organize my responses. But let’s start with the easiest ones, the contest changes:

  1. Novella is still in for the published author contest
  2. There’s still no multicultural category
  3. There’s still no erotic romance category
  4. Word counts were eliminated. Instead you now have Contemporary Series Romance, Contemporary Single Title, and Contemporary Series Romance Action/Adventure.

I’m not sure what to think about categories that were changed in which the rationale for the change mentions one publisher in particular, especially when they are the only publisher mentioned by name in these rules. Like the changes were made for them. They may be the largest publisher of romance fiction in the world, but really, it just seems a little…odd.

MC didn’t get a category because people didn’t clamor for one, certainly not as much as EroRom writers clamored for a category. Erotic Romance didn’t get a category because erotic romance is indefinable. Their word, not mine. I would suggest that the erotic romance writers hijack the Novel with Strong Romantic Elements category, based on this definition:

“Novel With Strong Romantic Elements: This category was retained in both the Golden Heart and RITA contests; however, substantial changes were made. The definition and judging guidelines of this category were edited to read as follows:

Definition: A work of fiction in which a romance plays a significant part in the story, but other themes or elements take the plot beyond the traditional romance boundaries.

Judging guidelines: Novels of any tone or style and set in any place or time are eligible for this category. A romance must be an integral part of the plot or subplot, and the resolution of the romance is emotionally satisfying and optimistic.”

That whole beyond the traditional romance boundaries” is what erotic romance writers have been saying their stories are all about. Okay then, you now have a category that you can flood with entries.


Tomorrow, I’ll talk about how the Rita contest is now opened to all authors who have published a romance book, regardless of the publishers’ RWA-recognized status.

Or is it?