As I reported in last week’s post, the Rita Awards (Romance Writers of America) will be handed out at the RWA Conference in July. To be accurate, it will be during a black-tie event on July 26th in San Antonio, Texas. However, this week the 77 finalists in nine categories were announced.
Whereas, in the Edgar and Agatha awards, finalists were limited to five per category, RWA has varying numbers. For instance, only two finalists are listed for Inspirational Romance, three for Erotic Romance and four for Romantic Suspense. On the other hand, Contemporary Romance has 18 finalists, Historical Romance has 17, and Paranormal Romance has 13.
Although I was a judge for the Ritas a year ago, I wasn’t this time, so I don’t know how they decided on those numbers. I’m assuming it was because of the number of submissions in each category. More romance authors are apparently working in those genres. Sounds fair.
The big news, however, was that this year, for the first time in its 33-year history, self-published books were allowed, and six of the 77 finalists were self-published. In the Romantic Suspense Category, two of the four finalists were self-published. That’s 50%! In addition, 20 finalists were from small presses, that is, not the Big-5 or Harlequin. They are Entangled, Source Books, Kensington and Montlake, along with Barbour, Omnific, Samhain, David C. Cook, and Tule Publishing. That’s 34% of all finalists. Plus, for the first time, Harlequin didn’t dominate the six-book Short Contemporary Category. Entangled had one.
Another interesting tidbit is that both Nora Roberts (the Romance Queen at Penguin, one of the Big-5) and Bella Andre (a best-selling self-published author) are finalists in the Contemporary Category. Who will win? I can’t wait to find out.
With all this good news, I might enter a book in the Ritas next year. Meanwhile, I’m taking a week off from this Blog because my old computer has decided to pretend it doesn’t know me and is treating me like a virus. I’m getting a new computer tomorrow, and I’ll be back as soon as I manage to convince it who’s boss.