Today is the day the Romance Writers of America announce the list of finalists for the Golden Heart and RITA awards. RWA says, “The purpose of the RWA contests–RITA and Golden Heart–is to promote excellence in the romance genre by recognizing outstanding romance books and manuscripts.” These two contests are the big fish in the little pond of romance writing.

Or, as I explain to my non-romance friends, it’s like the Oscars, but for romance books. Finaling in either contest is a huge honor, at least among romance authors. I wonder, however, how important that “Golden Heart Winner!” or “RITA Award Winner!” emblazoned across the top of the book is important to readers (and no, I am not just saying that because I am doubtful of finaling myself). Reviewing the list of past RITA winners is impressive; reviewing the list of past Golden Heart winners is just as fun, especially since some of those authors have since been published.

But does it mean anything? I don’t know, but I am still hoping against hope I get a phone call today from the RWA office in Texas. Barring that, I hope one or more of my fellow Riskies get the call.

So–have you ever been more interested in a book because it’s won an award? If you’re a published author, do you enter these kinds of contests? What do you get out of them? If you’re unpublished, have you found contests to be helpful in forwarding your career?

And–before you answer any of that–wish us luck!


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4 Responses to RITA-Mania!

  1. Cara King says:

    I’m definitely an award-oriented consumer. I try to see a lot of the Oscar-nominated movies every year, and I vaguely intend to watch (at least on DVD) every Oscar best picture winner eventually…

    And when reading science fiction, recently I’ve been mostly reading either books that friends recommend strongly, or Hugo or Nebula winners…

    And to a lesser extent, I do that with the Ritas. In romance, I tend more to read within certain subgenres than I do with other kinds of fiction, and I also have a whole lot of authors I follow…and then, there are many authors whom I know, and I want to read their books… Not much time for reading left over when those are satisfied, but in the time I have, I’m more likely to read a Rita winner or nominee….


  2. Cara:

    In genres besides romance, I do pick up the Hugo or Nebula winners. In romance, I figure I know enough myself not to worry about those nominations.

    (And the nominees are up at http://www.rwanational.org.)

  3. Elena Greene says:

    I’m like Megan, I pay more attention to awards in areas I’m less familiar with. In romance, I’ve found that recommendations from writing buddies are the most reliable prediction of whether I’m going to enjoy a book.

    Of course, I’ve also happened to read a fair number of RITA finalists and winners. While they were always good reads, sometimes I’ve thought other books out that year should have reached the finals too. Like Gail Eastwood’s Regencies, which were wonderful. Julia Ross won a Regency RITA but her historical romances, which I think are even better, haven’t hit the RITA finals yet.

    I think it takes the combination of an excellent book with the right panel of judges who “get it”. And I’m not saying that just because my own books often get a loved it/hated it range of scores. 🙂


  4. Amanda says:

    Like Elena, I’ve read too many RITA nominees that were just so-so while books that I really thought were outstanding weren’t even nominated. Same goes for Oscar. But if something is nominated or wins a RITA and I haven’t already read it I might be more likely to give a new author a try.

    I was glad to see that this year a couple of books that I thought were fresh and exceptionally well done were actually nominated. Julie Anne Long’s The Runaway Duke and Loretta Chase’s Mr. Impossible to name a couple. Of course, not EVERY book I felt this way about was nominated, but it’s good to see that I wasn’t alone in my opinions…

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