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These awards are given out by RWA Romance Writers of America. They are a big deal to the authors, but I don't think readers care much about them. Editors and Agents do, especially the Golden Heart, which is for unpublished authors and many of those awards help land agents or editors. I don't know if self-pubbed would qualify for Golden Heart, I know they do not for Rita, which is pissing off a LOT of members who feel they should be eligible.
 

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As of right now, self-published are ineligible to enter the Golden Heart because we count as published. We are also ineligible for the RITA's because we aren't published enough. LOL Gotta love writing organizations.
 

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The GH isn't really (although I feel like as there's more author/reader interactions online they're becoming way more known.)

The Rita has become a definite marketing tool. Several of my friends who won then had their publishers us it as a way to re-up books that had already been out. At least two of them got reprints with "Rita Winner" little squiggly stars on the front.
 

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The RITA isn't as well-known to readers as say, the Hugo or the Nebula, but it's starting to be known outside of writers circles. But in RWA, it's a big deal. It's our Oscars.

The Golden Heart isn't as well-known to readers than the RITA is, but I still have it emblazoned on my Codename cover, and I notice that when I've had BookBub ads (not even for that book), the summary refers to be as a "Golden Heart finalist author" or an "award-winning author."

It used to be that self-published authors were eligible to enter the Golden Heart (although many of us didn't simply because we figured what was the point -- as far as we were concerned, we're published now), but RWA changed that rule this summer. After all, could anyone really argue that Amanda Hocking wasn't "published" until she sold to St. Martin's, despite having earned over $1 million in self-publishing by that point?

So now we're not eligible to enter the Golden Heart, but we're also not eligible to enter a self-published book in the RITA either. But that's due to supposed space constraints (the year before, the contest closed in just a few days -- all the spots filled up and there were hundreds of traditionally-published authors who could get in either), and I know they're examining the issue. I fully believe that within a few years, RWA will find a way to let indie books in the RITA as well.

As it stands, RWA now allows self-published authors to qualify for PAN (the Published Authors Network) as of this past summer, and self-published authors will now be allowed to sign at the national conference this summer. Woot!

But yeah...I want to be able to enter the RITA. It'll happen. There are just way too many former RITA-finalists and NY Times bestsellers who are self-publishing now.
 

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Amanda Brice said:
The RITA isn't as well-known to readers as say, the Hugo or the Nebula, but it's starting to be known outside of writers circles. But in RWA, it's a big deal. It's our Oscars.
Funny thing is, I had never even heard of Nebula until very recently when I read it in one of these threads somewhere. I still don't know what they are for. I also only know about the Hugo faintly. I think its for Sci Fi? Or is it Fantasy. Not sure.

But I know what the RITA is and also the Golden Heart. Although I knew about the RITA before the GH.
I think it depends on the readers. I read a lot of romance and so I prowl a lot of sites that cater to it and many readers are familiar with RITA.

I don't necessarily pick my reading material based on that award though. Its just fun to read through the nominees and such sometimes. More fun to look at the GH finalists and see if any of them got a deal down the line and are for sale.
 

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Atunah said:
I don't necessarily pick my reading material based on that award though. Its just fun to read through the nominees and such sometimes. More fun to look at the GH finalists and see if any of them got a deal down the line and are for sale.
I agree about watching who from the GH hits big ;)

I also do check out the Rita list every year to see what I missed. There's always surprised "oh, I've never even heard of that!" and "wow, I can't believe such and such isn't on it!"
 

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Amanda Brice said:
So now we're not eligible to enter the Golden Heart, but we're also not eligible to enter a self-published book in the RITA either.
So it's just the book that you can't enter in Rita or GH?? What if you are a self-published author who wrote something that wasn't published? Would it be eligible for those contests?
 

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No. If you self-pubbed something long enough (Amanda, what's the word count again?) it cancel's you out of the Golden Heart. And, if it's self-published, it's not eligible for the Rita.

Of course, if you had a Trad book, you're eligible. The rules recently changed around e-only books I think. Either that or one of my friends who was telling me she was eligible bc her e-pub was printing books for certain people to enter.

I don't know. The rules were overhauled this year in a lot of ways and knowing I wasn't going to enter, I stepped away from some heated conversations. I have no idea why, but 3 groups contacted me for a quote for their letters LOL
 

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RM Prioleau said:
So it's just the book that you can't enter in Rita or GH?? What if you are a self-published author who wrote something that wasn't published? Would it be eligible for those contests?
If you've ever published in anything in any form longer than 20,000 words (including self-publishing), then as of this year, you're ineligible to enter the Golden Heart. Period.

You're also ineligible to enter the RITA with a self-published book, but if you have books with a non-vanity, non-subsidy publisher (that are not self-published), then you are eligible to enter those books, just not the self-published ones.

Digital-first publishers count for RITA eligibility, but you must enter a printed version. And not just printing off your e-book and entering the pages. It must be a bound book. Some of the digital-first publishers are willing to do a POD run for books they feel have a shot.

The big changes this year had to do with eliminating the Novel with Strong Romantic Elements category in the Golden Heart (and it will be eliminated from the RITA next year) and the Regency category (Regency novels are now part of the larger Historical Romance category), as well as major changes to the "series" categories (Series Contemporary and Series Contemporary-Suspense/Adventure or whatever it was called were now collapsed into one category, which is just crazy when you think about it...there are over 1000 of these titles published every year and now there's just one category...these are the shorter books that appear on shelves for one month published by Harlequin, but now Entangled and Crimson Romance also are publishing them). The other major change was a rewrite to the YA Romance definition such that now it focuses on actual true YA romance as opposed to YA Romantic Elements, which is what it essentially used to be.

But that was probably way more info than you needed to know. ;)
 

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Well, personally I agree that self-pubs shouldn't be eligible for the Golden Heart. It's an award for unpublished authors. If you're self-published, you're published. If entering the GH is important to you, then don't self-publish. It's as simple as that. (I wouldn't call it a contest for "first-time writers." Some writers final with their first manuscript, but most finalists have been writing with an aim towards publication for years. It's not a contest for beginners.)

Personally, I wish they'd allowed indies to enter the RITA, but I understand their reasoning. The first round is peer-judged, and there's already a massive shortage of judges as it is without suddenly allowing a flood of potentially thousands more titles. They need to fix the judge issue before they consider changing the rules to allow indie books.

I don't see it as "no love for self-pubs." Heck, Sylvia Day is the new president, for crying out loud. (Bared To You started out as a self-published book before Berkley reissued it. But of course, she'd been a traditionally-published author for many years prior to her huge indie success.) And a number of other members of the Board of Directors have also jumped into self-publishing, as have other high-profile members.

The fact that they changed the PAN rules to allow people to qualify on the basis of a self-published book, and also for members to sign self-published books at the conference shows that the wind is definitely changing, much more quickly in RWA than it is in most other major writing organizations. (Other than Novelists, Inc. -- NINC -- I'm not aware of another major writing org that grants equal membership privileges to self-published authors.)

I do think we'll see self-published titles in the RITA within the next few years. It won't happen overnight. But it'll happen.
 

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Everything Amanda just said.

But, I'll add: RWA used to be a leader in how to think about publishing. Unfortunately, they're now behind the eight ball on several things and trying to figure out how (or even if) they need to catch up with trends... if things are trends or actually shifts.

I'm hoping that the next few years gets them back on track as one of the leading shapers of the industry.
 

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Caitie Quinn said:
But, I'll add: RWA used to be a leader in how to think about publishing. Unfortunately, they're now behind the eight ball on several things and trying to figure out how (or even if) they need to catch up with trends... if things are trends or actually shifts.

I'm hoping that the next few years gets them back on track as one of the leading shapers of the industry.
Agreed.
 

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Former GH finalist here. Being that has opened doors for me, including getting an agent.

And now that they're allowing indies to sign their books at Literacy...hmm...maybe I'll renew my membership this year and attend, LOL. I can still go as a Samhain author but I'd love to sign my newest self-pubbed spy romance at RWA.

Don't care about the RITA any more, although the statuette would look lovely by the puter. But I'll never win one. You need to be in the clique. Or very famous.
 

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As a reader I usually ignore cover announcements of blurbs by other famous authors (often written by friends), big group awards (suspecting any group of peers can become political and not objective) and best seller status (that can be gamed by publisher channel stuffing). I also found that any time someone said "this is a classic" I knew caution was advised or I'd be soon eating a meal of "hey you'll like this - it's a delicacy!". But that's me - many readers won't touch a book unless it's been properly anointed and curated.
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What I noticed of all these awards when I did a quick wikipedia lookup is none included any buyers/readers.
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Nebula=SFWA members nominate & vote on winners
Hugo=WSFS members that attend a special annual convention nominate & vote on winners
Rita=RWA members nominate & vote on winners
Golden Heart=RWA panel of judges vote on winners
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So the next question is ... what does the Kindle Boards Writer Cafe (KBWC) award look like?
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jvin248 said:
What I noticed of all these awards when I did a quick wikipedia lookup is none included any buyers/readers.
FWIW, many of the regional RWA groups have reader choice contests. I've been a reader judge for a regional RWA contest for the past several years. They don't have the clout of RITA, but I guess it is still a feather someone can put in their hat.
 

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T.L. Haddix said:
Responding to the bolded part - Actually, no. Once I started self-publishing and discovered that I wasn't considered a real writer because I don't have a contract with a company that:

- takes the bulk of my money from sales, leaving me making minimum wage even if I sell well,
- tells me what to put in my books and what to take out based on antiquated beliefs held about what readers want,
- tells me what to write and when to write it, even if it compromises my beliefs,
- gives me no control or input into my cover,
- gives me no control or input into my title,
- expects me to promote myself with no support from them,
- and holds onto my rights to books for years and years, but lets my books languish in the dusty vault even though I have readers begging for them?

I lost all interest in joining RWA.

I understand that self-publishing today is not the same as it was one year, two years, three years ago. I get where RWA was coming from. I know they're changing. But I won't curry favor with people who treat me as a second-class citizen because I made a smart business decision (publishing myself), and as nice as it would be to win a RITA? All the validation I need comes from readers. Eventually it will come from other places. I'm stubborn. I'm willing to wait things out.

I know not everyone feels that way. I don't think less of authors who do still have a lot of respect for RWA. But it's not the path for me, and I am excited to see it becoming not the path for many, many others. Any organization that punishes people for showing initiative and working their assets off is not something I'd want to be a part of. That's my two cents, and I mean no disrespect to anyone here, I promise you.
I totally understand this. I am a member, but only because I love my local chapter that meets monthly and to be a member of that you have to join RWA national. I will say though that in each of the past few meetings there has been a lot of grumbling about RWA in general and wishing that we didn't have to be members. But, we stay because our local chapter is such a great support group. I've learned so much over the years from these ladies and it's wonderful seeing so many of them get published for the first time and some go on to do extremely well.....and even more fun to watch people like Marie Force find her biggest success as an Indie after publishing a few books traditionally. I also love our local conference which is coming up in April. If anyone here is in the New England area, you may want to check it out. You don't have to be an RWA member to attend. http://necrwa.org/blog1/conference/

I also agree with whoever it was that said the Rita/GoldenHeart awards are like the Oscars for romance writing. That is so true. I've been to a few of the ceremonies which are usually held the Saturday night ending the National Conference. First time I went I couldn't believe all the gorgeous gowns, and the emotions, it really felt like the Oscars!
 

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RM Prioleau said:
That's very sad that it has come to that. I hate cliques with a passion.
Heh. It came out sounding bitter but that wasn't my intention. I have been in the RWA since 1998. I have seen plenty of changes and I do love my RWA roots because the organization supported and taught writers like me who didn't have a clue about the business. Let me try to explain again.

I've also been a judge for both contests for a decade and know all the ins and outs. The Golden Heart was the best, the finalists the cream of the crop which were then judged by buying/interested editors. I sold my first book by winning many RWA contests.

RITA is an entirely different animal. I'm given 9-12 books to judge, with varying instructions through the years. Yes, it is subjective, but it is also personal too because after 10 years, don't you think I know quite a number of them personally? So, sometimes, I feel there is a clique involved.

Also, many of the judges are still from the "old" era, using many romance rules to judge the book. If, for instance, you have a cheating hero in your book, don't expect to win, unless it is in the single title with romantic elements category. Oh, ooops, that one is gone :). Or, another example, for many years, there was a huge internal struggle of judging erotic romance (not erotica). Some of the old school authors didn't feel it has a place in the romance genre because they think it's all erotica.

I've been through it all, since when the organization was just 2000 members big. It's 9000 members now. It can't help but be chaotic sometimes, with so many to whom to cater. I respect the organization for what it's done, but sometimes, the individual moves so faster than a behemoth.

Sylvia Day (note, a very good friend) is insightful, experienced and far-seeing. She'll steer the organization right, but again, it's a giant and changes take two years to implement. How she finds time to write so much AND still do all the organization work (meetings, traveling, talking), I don't know.
 
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