Some readers will buy a book because it won an award. They don’t want to risk their time and money on a story that could disappoint. An award is often considered as social proof or as a recommendation. The reader believes this book or author has been endorsed by a collective of knowledgeable people and there’s a strong chance the book will be a good story.
If you are in the mood to try a romance novel because it received an award, look for one that won a competition from a romance writer organization.
A group of people who understand the romance genre chose the book and the selection process is often explained on the organizations websites. Also, the rules are created to prevent industry professionals from influencing the outcome.
Of course, buying an award-winning book does not guarantee that you’ll find your next favorite romance novel. And, while every award from a romance writer organization honors excellence, there are differences between book competitions.
For example, an author’s eligibility to enter might rely on her citizenship. A competition could have one award for all the books entered and another contest has an award for each subgenre. Some contests only allow published authors as judges while other contests request judges who are not writers.
Which contest is more prestigious? Which award means more? That depends on what you consider most important in a book competition.
Here is a list of awards given out by five romance writer organizations.
The Imbali is given out by The Romance Writers Organisation of South Africa for best romantic novel. The work can be published in Afrikaans or English, but it must have been originally published the previous year. Judged by international book bloggers and reviewers, the romance novels are written by ROSA members who are either residents of Southern African countries or South African citizens living abroad.
Imbali is a Zulu word for “flower” and it’s awarded in September at the ROSA Gala dinner.
The Koru is presented by the Romance Writers of New Zealand. This award recognizes excellence in romance fiction of its members. That means New Zealand and Australia authors are eligible to enter. The books can be published anywhere in the world and they are judged by international readers who are not authors. There are currently several award categories including long romance novel, short romance novel, novella, first book and overall excellence.
Koru is the Māori word for the spiral shape of an unfurling silver fern frond.
Named after the first president of the Romance Writers of America, the RITA promotes excellence in the romance genre. Any romance author over the age of 18 is eligible to enter, but the work must be original romantic fiction with an English language publication in the previous year. There are a dozen award categories judged solely by published romance authors. The authors who participated in the contest are required to judge, but not in the category they entered.
RWA retired the RITA awards in 2020.
This award is given out by the Romantic Novelists’ Association in the United Kingdom. Authors who live in the UK or are Commonwealth citizen living abroad are eligible to enter. Also, a book that is set in the UK and is first published by a UK based publisher is eligible. There are currently ten categories including romantic comedy, romantic thriller and romantic saga. Readers who are not members of the RNA and who are not currently writing are the judges.
The Romantic Novel Awards also has a Popular Romance Fiction Prize. Unlike the other awards presented by the RNA, the books in this category are nominated and chosen by bloggers, booksellers and librarians.
In this contest, the entry must be a commercially available romance story of 10,000 words or more. The work must be written in English and the author has to be a citizen or resident of Australia or New Zealand. The Ruby is judged by both Australian readers and writers and there are five categories including speculative fiction and romantic elements. The awards are given out every August at the Romance Writers of Australia conference.
The Ruby stands for Romantic Book of the Year.
Want more? Pick your next romance novel from this list of award winners!