The Golden Rose contest is cancelled for the year 2020 due to events surrounding Romance Writers of America Nationals.

The purpose of the Rose City Romance Writers Golden Rose Contest is to encourage, recognize, and reward the mastery of writing romantic fiction. For the purposes of this contest a work of fiction is defined as a novel that is made commercially available to the public.

It offers the opportunity to obtain high quality feedback and, for finalists, the chance to get your work in front of a publishing industry editor. It is one of the few contests allowing a higher word submission count which provides our entrants with the greatest opportunity for feedback. In addition, many of our finalists receive requests from the final judges and many of those have gone on to be published.

Sign up for the Rose City Romance Writers Golden Rose Contest and you’ll receive three detailed score sheets describing parts of your story that might need a little polish. We think you’ll appreciate that our feedback is specific, with our judges striving to give positive, helpful comments and suggestions.


March 15, 2021 – Contest opens.

April 30, 2021 – Contest closes (at midnight).

June 25, 2021 – Finalists notified. Finalists have one week to make any edits to their entries and return them with a 500 word synopsis.

July 2, 2021 – Finalist entries (with synopsis) must be returned to the contest coordinator. Once finalists have been notified, other entrants will have their scored entries returned.

August 31, 2021 – Winners will be notified!


The Golden Rose Contest is open to all non-contracted RWA authors of romantic fiction unpublished in book-length (50,000 words or more) in the last three years and any member of RWA who is not eligible to join RWA-PAN. Please see the RWA website regarding PAN eligibility rules.

  • Entries must be the first 10,000 words of a full-length novel with a projected length greater than 50,000 words (no novellas or short stories).
  • Manuscripts previously released for public sale in any format are not eligible for the Golden Rose.
  • Previous first place winners of the Golden Rose Contest may not re-enter the winning entry, even in edited format. They may, however, enter another work. Previous 2nd and 3rd place entries will be accepted, revision encouraged.
  • If your manuscript is accepted for publication or you become eligible to join RWA-PAN during the time of our contest (March 15 through August 31), you must notify the Golden Rose chair. Your submission(s) will be withdrawn from consideration for final round judging, however you will receive the first round judge critiques for your manuscript.
  • While not required, all entries should be part of a completed manuscript. Finalists often receive requests for the full manuscript from final round judges.


All entries will be read and scored by three trained judges, at least one of whom will be a published author, or a member of RWA-PRO. The lowest score will be dropped. The final score will be the sum of the two higher scores. In the event of a tie, the dropped score may be taken into account.

Entries will be scored according to the following guidelines:

  • Opening (20 points)
  • Description/Setting (20 points)
  • Characters (20 points)
  • Story (Goal/Motivation/Conflict) (20 points)
  • Craft/Mechanics (20 points)
  • Style Voice (20 points)
  • Pacing/Plotting (20 points)
  • Dialogue/Narrative (20 points)
  • Category-specific Special Elements (10 points)

Finalist Round

The top three manuscripts in each category will be forwarded to the final round judges for ranking (first, second, third). In the case of a tie, no more than five (5) entries will be forwarded to the finalist judges. If necessary, ties may be broken by adding in the dropped score to the total.

Finalists will have the opportunity, for one week only, to edit their manuscripts based on the preliminary comments, before the manuscripts are sent to the final judges.

Note: RCRW reserves the right to discard all electronic entries and return fees if a minimum of seven (7) entries are not received in any category. Entrants will be contacted before the entries are returned and given the option to place their entry in another category.

Finalist Round Judges

Coming soon!

Finalist Notification

Finalists will be notified via e-mail or phone by June 25th. Finalists will have one week to make any edits to their entries and return them along with a 500 word synopsis, to the Contest Coordinator (by July 2nd). Once all finalists have been notified, all other entrants will have their scored entries returned via e-mail.

Winners will be notified by August 31, via a phone call or by e-mail. Please be sure to look for the announcement


Please note: all heat levels and LGBTQIA leads are encouraged across all categories. RCRW embraces diversity across all categories.

Contemporary Series Romance: Romances that target series romance publishers (Harlequin, Silhouette, Entangled category lines) and focus primarily on the romantic relationship. The finished manuscript should meet the target line’s specific requirements for length, sensuality, and subject matter.

Contemporary Single Title Romance: Romance novels set after 1945 that focus primarily on the romantic relationship and are released as individual titles.

Historical Romance: Romance novels set in time periods prior to 1945. Manuscripts targeting both single title historical publishers and series publishers (e.g., Harlequin Historical, Entangled Scandalous) should be entered into this category.

Novel with Strong Romantic Elements: A work of fiction in which a romance plays a strong role in the story, but other themes or elements take the plot beyond the traditional romance boundaries (e.g., Women’s Fiction or Chick Lit, could also be Urban Fantasy). In this category, the protagonists may not meet as soon as in traditional romances. Happily-ever-after (HEA) not required by the end of the novel.

Paranormal Romance: Romances with paranormal, fantasy, futuristic, and supernatural elements, including steampunk and its subgenres. Entries targeting paranormal series romance lines may be entered in either this category or the contemporary series romance, but not both.

Romantic Suspense: Romance novels in which suspense, mystery, or thriller elements constitute an integral part of the plot. Entries targeting series romance lines that include suspense elements (e.g., Silhouette Romantic Suspense, Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense, Harlequin Intrigue) may be entered in either this category or the contemporary series romance, but not both.

Young Adult / New Adult Romance: Romance novels or novels with strong romantic elements where the protagonists are new adults, young adults, or teens. Entries targeting both single title new / young adult publishers and series lines with a new / young adult audience should be entered in this category.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]


Early bird entry (March 15-31)

$25 for RCRW members

$30 for RWA members (non-RCRW)

Regular entry

$30 for RCRW members

$35 for RWA members (non-RCRW)

We accept payment by check or PayPal. If you choose PayPal, you’ll be directed to the PayPal site after clicking submit on the contest entry form.


  • Finalists: certificate with ranking, and website finalist banner.
  • Overall winner: certificate, website winner banner  and $100 gift certificate (the overall winner will also receive their finalist certificate with ranking)

*  Please note: The RCRW membership prize does not include RWA national membership fees. Only one RCRW membership per person, regardless of multiple wins. This prize is nontransferable and has no cash value.

Entry formatting

  • Entries shall be no more than 10,000 words
  • One inch margins and double spaced
  • 12 point font in Times New Roman
  • Align text left
  • Each chapter must start a third of way down the page, approximately 6-8 lines from the top of the page
  • The title of the manuscript shall be in the upper left hand corner of every page using the ‘Header’ feature
  • The page number shall be in the upper right corner
  • The title on the manuscript must match the title listed on the entry form
  • The title of the manuscript shall be used as the file name for the document minus any special characters; for example: a manuscript entitled Rose’s Thirty-First Birthday will be saved with the file name RosesThirtyFirstBirthday.rtf
  • All manuscripts must be submitted electronically as part of the Contest Entry Form
  • RTF file formats only
  • The name of the author must NOT be included anywhere in the manuscript. Your name must also be removed from the Document Properties information. Reference the following link for an example of how to remove personal information from Microsoft Word 2010 (other programs will vary): How to remove personal information from Word 2010 documents