How to enter NERFA

The National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award celebrates published romance novels and novellas and is judged by romance readers.

 The contest is now open! Entries will be accepted from March 1 – 31 2018.


Eligibility: Romance books or novellas (in Novella category only) published in print or digital format in 2017.

Books may be entered in print or PDF format. All entries must have an original copyright date of 2017 and must have been available for purchase in the United States beginning in 2017. Independent press, self-published, and digital first or digital only books may be entered as long as they meet all eligibility requirements. Electronic entries must match the version available at retailers.

Fee:  $35 Digital and Print Entries; add $5 to also enter Best First Book category.

PayPal is the only acceptable payment form and must be submitted using the PayPal button on the entry form. Payment must be received before March 31, 2018 at 7 pm (Eastern) to be accepted. Because the number of entries is capped, entrants are encouraged to make payments promptly. If print books are received and payment is not made by the deadline, all copies of the entry will be donated to the public libraries unjudged.

Prizes: All finalists will receive a NERFA Finalist web logo and certificate. Finalists and winners will be announced in the Romance Writers Report. Winners will receive a NERFA Winner web logo and trophy.


First Round Judges: Romance Readers

Final Round Judges: Bloggers, Booksellers, and Librarians

Each book will be judged by three reader judges using a reader-based score sheet .

The top three books in each category will advance to the final round.

The final round for each category will be judged by a blogger, bookseller, or librarian, who will determine the category winners.

How to enter:

1) Complete online entry form – Available March 1st

See the list of Categories to determine the most appropriate category for your entry.

Eligible entries may also enter the Best First Book category.

2) Upload Ebook file (if applicable).

PDF SUBMISSION: One PDF file with title in the file name.

Submitting grants permission to forward to up to four judges for an electronic entry (five judges if entering Best First Book).

3) Pay fee for each entry.

You will be forwarded to PayPal when you submit the registration form. Please be sure to add the title of the entry on the PayPal form. Please note: your entry is not official until payment has been received.

3) Send print entry (if applicable).

PRINT SUBMISSION: Four* copies of each print title being entered must be received by FCRW prior to April 6th. Be sure to use correct postage. No exceptions will be made to the deadline. Send print books to the address provided to you after your payment is verified. No entries requiring a signature will be accepted but you may use USPS delivery confirmation. *If entering Best First Book, send five total copies.

4) You will be notified by email when your book(s) are received. Please allow 48 hours for verification of eligibility and payment.

Dates and Deadlines:

March 1, 2018 —- Entry form available online.

March 1 – 31, 2018 —- Contest open.

March 31, 2018 —- All payments must be received (posted in PayPal no later than 11:59 pm, EST)

April 6, 2018 —- Deadline to receive print and electronic books. FCRW is not responsible for lost or misdirected mail. Electronic entries must be received by 7 pm (Eastern).

April 14 – May 25, 2017 —- First round judging.

June 1, 2017  —- Finalists in each category are announced and contacted by either phone or email.

Jun 1 – 30, 2017 —- Final round judging.

July 6, 2017 —- Winners announced!


To give entrants the most for his/her entry dollar, and in an effort not to overwhelm our judges, the number of entries will be capped at 200.

Note: While FCRW requires judges to agree to NOT re-distribute or share PDF documents, FCRW has no way to enforce this policy. The author accepts this risk by sending a PDF document.

Print entries will be accepted from authors, editors, publishers, agents, or anyone who completes the entry form, pays the entry fee, and supplies the required number of copies of the title being entered. To ensure permission has been given to distribute PDF books to judges, only the author or publisher may enter PDF format books. Membership in any particular writing organization is not required to enter a romance in the contest.

There is no limit to the number of titles by the same author that may be entered, but each title may be entered in only one category and a separate entry fee and entry form is required for each title entered.

Contact information:

Contact the contest coordinator at with any questions.

The National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award is sponsored by First Coast Romance Writers (FCRW), an affiliate of Romance Writers of America®. FCRW is an organization for both published and unpublished writers. The chapter is dedicated to promoting excellence in romantic fiction through monthly meetings and workshops where published and unpublished writers share knowledge about the constantly evolving publishing industry.