Hearts Through History Romance Writers

2024 RTTA Contest Rules

Note: Categories may be eliminated or combined with another category at the discretion of the RTTA contest committee if fewer than ten entries are received.

Official Rules

  • Entries must be historical romance. According to industry and RWA definitions, a romance novel features a love story that’s both essential to the plot and the main focus of the book, with a happily-ever-after ending for the romantic couple. Historical romances take place in a time period prior to 1980s (see the category descriptions for more information on time periods).
  • Each entry shall include ONE (1) file in PDF format.
  • All categories are welcoming to entries of diversity and inclusion of all cultures, religions, ethnicities, and LGBTQ+ identities.
  • If any judges are presented with an entry that glorifies atrocities towards any group or collective, or a main character who willingly participates in any atrocity towards any group or collective, that entry will be disqualified and have their entry fee refunded. We will not put our chapter, RWA, or our judges in a position requiring an ethics call on the entry. We are not reading the entire manuscript, and cannot make judgements about character’s growth or redemptive arc.
  • With the exception of the historical novella, entries must be novel-length historical romance of more than 50,000 words (an estimated final word count is acceptable for unfinished manuscripts). Short stories, nonfiction, and fiction in genres other than historical romance will not be accepted.
  • Novellas are accepted in every category as long as they meet the category requirement. Novella-length historical romances are between 20,000 – 40,000 words (an estimated final word count is acceptable for unfinished manuscripts).
  • Erotic manuscripts are accepted in every category as long as they meet the category requirement. By definition, erotic romances are stories that have strong, often explicit, sexual interaction that is an inherent part of the love story, character growth, and relationship development and could not be removed without damaging the storyline.
  • A happily-ever-after or happily-for-now ending to the story is a requirement.
  • Manuscript files for all first-round entries must be uploaded through the entry form. Do not send your entry via e-mail or postal mail; it will be rejected.
  • Participants may enter multiple entries; however, each entry may be entered in only one (1) category. For example, a paranormal medieval story may be entered in either the Ancient/Medieval/Renaissance category or the Time Travel/Paranormal category, not both. Each submission will be treated as a separate entry. Contest rules and eligibility requirements apply separately to each entry.
  • If you submit multiple entries, you must fill out the entry form for each entry separately; so if you enter two manuscripts, you must fill out the online form twice. Fee for each entry must be paid separately, as well.
  • Each entry shall include ONE (1) file in PDF format.
  • Entries judged to be offensive to any marginalized community (BIPOC, LGBTQ+, Gender, Ethnicity, Weight, Size, Age, Ability, etc.) for any reason will be disqualified.
  • Use of AI technology, in any form, is not allowed in the contest.
  • All entries must be the author’s original work.
  • HHRW members pay $20 and all other entrants pay $25. Only U.S. dollars or the equivalent foreign dollars will be accepted. All payments are processed through PayPal; however, you may pay with a credit card through PayPal even if you don’t have a PayPal account. We do not accept cash or checks.
  • Entrants must receive a confirmation of entry fee and payment for each submission. If you don’t receive it, please e-mail rtta@heartsthroughhistory.com to contact the contest chair.
  • Entrants must submit payments, entry forms, and manuscript files for their submissions to be complete. Failure to submit any of these elements will disqualify your entry.
  • All entry forms, fees, and files must be received by your category coordinator(s) no later than June 30th, 2024.
  • Contest coordinators reserve the right to reject any entry that does not meet all of the requirements listed on this page or that fails to meet the eligibility requirements listed on the main contest page. No fees will be refunded on the basis of disqualification or withdrawal by entrant for any reason.

Pre-Published Entries

  • The entry file for the contest shall consist of the first 25 pages of the manuscript — the beginning of the book, not pages from later in the manuscript. Prologues count toward the page limit.
  • The contest entry may also include an optional synopsis, 1 to 2 pages long, included at the end of the manuscript file. The synopsis will not be judged and does count toward the 25 pages.
  • Although up to 25 pages is acceptable, remember more is not necessarily better. Contestants are urged to take into consideration the most effective stopping point for their entry, even if that point is short of the 25-page limit. Entries will not be penalized for being under 25 pages.
  • Entry files must be formatted in standard manuscript format — double-spaced, 1 inch margins all around with each chapter begun on a new page, one-third of the way down from the top; the font should be either 12-point Times New Roman.
  • The header on each page of your file(s) shall contain only the title, category code, and page number separated by forward slashes and shall be right-aligned. (Click here to view the category codes.) Here’s an example of proper header formatting:

manuscript format header example

  • The author’s name and full manuscript title should only appear on the entry form, which is kept confidential by the contest coordinator. Any entry and/or synopsis in which the author’s name appears will be immediately disqualified and the entry fee will not be returned. Your coordinator will review your entry and notify you of receipt and of any formatting errors. In the event of such errors (page limit exceeded, etc.) you will have until June 30th, 2024 to submit a revised entry to your coordinator.
  • Manuscripts need not be finished to be entered, meaning works-in-progress may be entered in the contest. Keep in mind, though, that finalists may receive requests from final judges for full or partial manuscripts.

Published Entries

  • Entry must be eBook/PDF of entire MS of Historical Romance.
  • Open to all novel length works of historical romance over 60,000 words.
  • All books must be originally copyrighted between January 2023 and December 2023 and must not have been previously published before 2023.
  • Any work of historical romance that has been published traditionally or independently may be entered.

Make sure to read the contest waiver on the entry form and be certain you understand all the terms and conditions. Please e-mail rtta@heartsthroughhistory.com to contact the contest chair, if you have any questions about the rules or the waiver.

About the Judging

Each first-round entry will be evaluated by THREE (3) qualified judges who are published or unpublished authors. Judges may insert comments into the manuscripts at their discretion; however, all scores of less than 3 will be explained on score sheet. Every effort will be made to match judges to entries with regard to heat level.

Once all score sheets are returned to the category coordinators, the lowest of the three scores will be dropped and the remaining two scores will be averaged to determine the entry’s final score. In the event of a tie, the dropped score will be used as the tie-breaker.

There will be no discrepancy judging. The top three scoring entries in each category will advance to the final round.

The names of all first-round judges are kept confidential unless a judge elects to disclose his/her name once the contest is completed. Finalists will be notified on or about  July 29, 2024, and their scored entries will be returned to them. All non-finalist scored entries will be returned within the 30-day period after finalists entries are announced.

Click here to view an example of a score sheet. We now use an online form that automatically sends the tabulated result to the Contest Chair.

Pre-Published: The top 3 finalists in each category will be judged by an Industry Professional (Editor or Agent)

Published: The top 2 finalists in each category will be judged by 2 Industry Professionals (Editors/Agents/Romance Bookshops/Book Reviewers/Authors).

Final placements in each category will be determined by the scores of the final-round judges. All decisions made by the judges are final.

All winners will be announced on October 31, 2024. All finalists will be notified of the final results by e-mail on the same day. Final-round scores sheets will be returned to finalists within 30 days after the winners are announced.

Category Codes: (for inclusion in manuscript headers)

  • Ancient/Medieval/Renaissance — AMR
  • Colonial/Western/Civil War — CWW
  • Georgian/Victorian — GVI
  • Regency — REG
  • Post-Victorian/World Wars/Modern — PVW
  • Time Travel/Historical Paranormal — TTP
  • YA Historical — YAH