There are over 1 million new books published each year. Bowker, a company that provides bibliographic information, released a report in 2016 that stated more than 700,000 books were self-published in the U.S. during the previous year. There were also over 300,000 books traditionally published. This does not include books published in other countries or the previously published books that are still available.
How many of these books were romance novels? According to the Romance Writers of America, “romance made up 23% of the overall US fiction market” in 2016. With so many books to choose from, it can be difficult deciding which book is worth investing time and money. Many readers choose a romance novel because it’s been nominated for an award. They know the book went through one or two rounds of judging and met the requirements of the contest.
If you are looking for your next romantic read and are overwhelmed by the choices, here are three award competitions to browse. They are sponsored by associations, booksellers or romance readers.
The Ripped Bodice is a bookstore in the United States that sells romance fiction exclusively. They launched the Ripped Bodice Award of Excellence in Romantic Fiction and hope to make it an annual event. The top love stories are chosen by a judging panel of romance authors, bloggers, booksellers, journalists, librarians and podcasters. Unlike other competitions, the books are not divided into categories. Find the award-winning books here.
Audiobook lovers should also check out the Audie Awards. Sponsored by the Audio Publishers Association, this award recognizes distinction in audiobooks and spoken-word entertainment. Although the Audies started in 1996, romance wasn’t an award category until 2005. The judges are a mix of audiobook fans and experienced evaluators, but they might not be romance fiction aficionados. The list of winners and finalists can be found here.
If you want your next book to be vetted by die-hard romance fans, consider the Australian Romance Readers Award. Although these awards recognize favorite romance fiction from the previous year by ARRA members, it’s unclear if the judges are also authors. The list of winners and finalists can be found on the association’s website. The 12 categories include the usual sub-genres as well as favorite continuing romance series, favorite romance cover, favorite couple, favorite small-town romance and favorite Australian romance author.