The Great Expectations Contest, 2017
is now open for entries!!

~ a contest for unpublished works ~

The Great Expectations Contest is for unpublished material, to include works from unpublished authors as well as unpublished works from published authors.
*Please consult our rules if you are a published author.

Now in its 16th consecutive year, North Texas RWA can help you receive unbiased opinions from three qualified judges on the first 5,000 words of your story. The top four scoring entries (or five, in the event of a tie) will progress to the finalist stage of the contest, where top editors from leading publishing houses will determine the winners.



October 30, 2016: Contest opens for entries.

Early Bird Dates and Fees

DATES: Wednesday, October 30, 2016 to midnight December 18, 2016

FEES: $20 for members of NTRWA, DARA, & Yellow Rose; $25 for all others

Regular Dates and Fees

DATES: December 19, 2016 to midnight January 4, 2017

FEES: $25 for members of NTRWA, DARA, & Yellow Rose; $30 for all others

Midnight, Central Time, Wednesday, January 4, 2017 the contest closes for entries.

If you have any questions, please contact Fenley Grant, the contest coordinator.


January 8, 2017: Approximate date entries will be distributed to first round judges

February 6, 2017: Date entries should be returned to GEcoordinator @

February 8, 2017: Approximate date to announce finalists

February 10, 2017: Approximate date to return non-finalists' entries

February 15, 2017: All revised finalists' entries returned

March 19, 2017: Approximate date to announce final placements


Polish up your manuscript and enter today!


Final Round Judges



Romantic series novels. If your manuscript is a series romantic suspense, you may enter the Contemporary Series category or the Romantic Suspense category. Please check our score sheets to see which benefits your writing.



Elle Keck ~ Assistant Editor/Avon Books

Romantic novels with non-contemporary settings, including regency & gothic romances.



Raela Schoenherr ~ Acquisitions Editor/Bethany House

Romantic novels with an inspirational message/theme, including romantic suspense, historical, etc.


Marla Daniels ~ Assistant Editor/Simon and Schuster

Novels that include an element of romance but in which traditional romance conventions are not followed and in which there are themes and conflicts beyond romance. Mainly women�s fiction and chick lit.




Novels appropriate for new adult readers. Includes heroes and heroines not exceeding 25 years of age. Novels similar to YA that can be published and marketed as adult�a sort of older YA market. New Adult fiction tends to focus on "first" experience issues. Some examples are leaving home, developing sexuality, negotiating education, first job or career choices.



Romantic novels that include an element of mystery or suspense. Since the final round editor is from a single title publisher, contestants may want to enter series romantic suspense in the contemporary series category.



Madeleine Colavita Editorial Assistant/Grand Central Publishing

Romantic novels released as individual titles.



Kristine Swartz ~ Assistant Editor/Berkley

Romantic novels of any time setting (historical or futuristic) with Alternate Earth Histories, Dystopian, Futuristic, Fantasy, Time Travel, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy. The emphasis must be on the romance.



Alice Jerman ~ Assistant Editor/Harper Collins

Novels appropriate for young adult readers. Includes young adult heroes and heroines not exceeding 18 years of age.



Due to a continued lack of entries, we've canceled the Erotic Romance category. Erotic entries can now be made in any category. Please indicate EROTIC in the header and on the entry form heat level. Please review our score sheets to see which category fits best or if your entry will benefit from comments.

Frequently Asked Questions

Contest Information: MS Word doc or PDF version

GE Judge Signup

NT provides a blog where you can follow and/or receive email updates on the progress of the contest. If you want to follow our contest blog, click here.

Check out the contest score sheets to see which category works best for your entry.





We are asking our final round editor judges to provide feedback on our score sheets.

5000 word entry limit instead of page count

No synopsis or blurb.

     Finalists will be asked to include an un-judged synopsis for editors.




All work must be the author’s original work that has not been contracted for publication prior to the entry deadline.

This contest is open to all authors who have never been published in book-length romantic fiction as well as authors who have not been contracted or published in the entered category during the last three years (during 2014, 2015 or 2016).

Previous first place winners may not re-enter the winning entry, even in edited format. They may, however, enter another work.

Authors may enter as many times as they wish (in one or multiple categories).

Failure to comply with any of the rules may disqualify the entry, resulting in a forfeit of the entry fee.


Our final round editors have agreed to complete the judging score sheet and will hopefully include comments.

All payments must be submitted via PayPal.


Include the PayPal transaction number on your entry form. Please enter "Great Expectations Contest" in the 'comments' section in PayPal.


Entry fees are refundable if the contestant becomes ineligible (as in published) before January 4, 2017. PayPal fees will be deducted from the returned amount.

The Great Expectations committee will make every effort to adhere to the above time schedule.

Entry Instructions and Format

Payment must be made via Paypal.

Make payment first. PAY NOW page has the current PayPal buttons. Or PayPal directly to: Treasurer You'll need the transaction ID number from PayPal.

Do not send payments to the contest coordinator.




Five thousand (5,000) word limit (approximately 20 pages of text); double spacing; font: 14 point Times New Roman; 25 or 26 lines per page; indented paragraphs; one inch margins; chapters begin 1/3 down the page. Use 14 point Times New Roman font in black. Do not include icons, text boxes, or any other type of decorative embellishment in your work.

Your entry will be sent to judges with standard manuscript formatting: 14 point Times New Roman. We will reformat entries to ensure consistency.

Define the heat level of your 5000 word entry:

The heat level selection should be based on the 5000 words of your entry in order to assign appropriate judges. If the first 5000 words have no reference to sex, it should be considered 'warm' even if the rest of the book has tension, banter, and sex throughout.

Headers: manuscript title and heat level on left (warm, medium, hot or ex hot), page number on right.

     Example for no sex: Your Title / warm

     Example for attraction: Your Title / medium

     Example for erotic: Your Title / exhot

Names and identifying information will be removed from the manuscript.

Save the file as a rich text format (.rtf)

     Use your name and entry title.rtf

     EXAMPLE: YourName-EntryTitle.rtf



Complete the online Contest Entry Form & electronically signed Contestant Agreement.

Please include your Paypal email and Paypal transaction number.

Attach your entry to the form before you submit it.

Make sure you submit your entry and payment by midnight CST, Wednesday, January 4, 2017.

You will receive a confirmation e-mail within three days. If you do not, please contact the contest coordinator.


Each entry will receive a detailed score sheet from three qualified judges. NTRWA will strive to obtain at least one published judge per entry. Volunteer to judge!

Judges will be encouraged to comment on the score sheet. NTRWA cannot guarantee that all judges will comply with this suggestion.

A fourth judge will be used for any entry whose two lowest scores differs by 30 points or more and has the potential of being a finalist. The lowest of the four scores will then be dropped.

The top three or four entrants/scores in each category will advance to the finals, depending on the number of entries received. All finalists must have received at least 75% to advance.

The GE coordinators intend to notify the finalists of their status by phone or email during the second week of February 2017.

Final round judging will be done by editors.

The GE coordinators intend to announce the winners by the third week of March 2017. If delays occur, an announcement will be sent to all finalists.

Non-finalist entries will be returned after finalists are determined and statistical information is complete.

Sign up to judge!


First = $50.00


In the event a writing team places, only one monetary prize will be given.

NTRWA awards monetary prizes through Paypal.

All finalists receive certificates.

Each finalist and winner will receive an appropriate website icon.

Winners will have their names printed in the RWR.

All decisions of the judges are final.

PLEASE NOTE: NTRWA reserves the right to clarify these rules and will notify all contestants upon their update.

An easy way to stay informed about the contest is to follow our contest blog.

GE: Frequently Asked Questions

GE: Information

GE Judge Application



If you have any questions, please contact the contest coordinator.