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How are RITA Awards determined?

 
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HEAreader



Joined: 20 Feb 2011
Posts: 159

PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2012 6:55 am    Post subject: How are RITA Awards determined? Reply with quote

What criteria does the RWA use to nominate books for the RITAs? Who votes to determine the winner? Also, aren't they a bit heavy on the category/series books? (I read Harlequins but don't think they are that big a part of romance fiction.)

Very surprised by some of the winners.
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Ashlyn Macnamara



Joined: 12 Jul 2011
Posts: 5
Location: Montreal

PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2012 7:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Authors or their publishers enter their books in the Rita contest every fall. Part of the problem is, the contest fills very quickly, so if an author isn't fast enough, the contest closes before they have a chance to enter. I think it filled up in less than a week this year.

The first round judges are volunteers from among the published authors in the RWA. Each book goes to 5 judges who give a score from 1-9 (one is low) with decimal increments allowed, based on their appreciation of the book. Top ten percent of each category is named a finalist. The finalists go on to another panel of judges who, I believe, are also published authors. I'm not sure what their judging criteria are.

As for being category heavy, there's a separate category for contemporary category. In historical or Regency, say, the categories are mixed in with the single titles, but if the categories happen to final over the single titles, that's on the judges.
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Karen Templeton



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 298

PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2012 2:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, the Series category is the largest (although at least some of the series books get siphoned off into the Series Romantic Suspense category), so the odds are definitely higher in Series. But, as with the other categories, their are no more than nine finalists slots, and the scores must tally over a certain amount in order for a book to final.

For the second round, five *different* authors (IOW, if you judged the book in prelims, you don't judge it again for the final round) get all the books that finaled, and must rank them in order of preference. Then the ranks #s are tallied to determine the winner.

As was said above, the entries #s are limited (currently to 1200). That aside, not all authors enter. It's not a perfect system, but considering the vast number of books released each year in the genre, I'm not sure how else the contest could be handled.

Karen Templeton
www.karentempleton.com
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dick



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 2477

PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2012 3:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I suppose that the RITA's are awards from one's peers is the reason they are judged by other writers. It's curious though. Writers, I think, would, even if they were avid readers themselves, judge a book differently from readers, taking into account things that readers would probably ignore completely were a particular book to their taste. I'd be curious to know how well books that receive the RITA succeed amongst readers. Does anybody have that information?
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jaime



Joined: 23 Sep 2011
Posts: 484

PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2012 4:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I read only one of the winners - The Black Hawk by Joanna Bourne (Yeah! for it winning!), and was familiar only with a few of the other winning authors.

Which makes me feel kind of ...inadequate as a romance reader. Do I need to turn in my romance reader badge? Embarassed
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Karen Templeton



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 298

PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2012 5:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

LOL, Jaime -- no, I think you're still good. Wink

There are reader contests (such as the Reader's Choice contest), although those are also usually limited to books authors have entered. Then the batches are sent out to be judged, just as with the RITAs, except to non-authors. To have an open contest where readers simply nominate their faves, while valid in theory, also limits the nominations/winners in another way -- what constitutes a book's popularity is often limited by its availability (although the proliferation of ebooks is beginning to mitigate that somewhat). At least in times past, readers tended to pick up books based on an author's already established popularity, rather than on buzz about the book itself. Yes, occasionally word-of-mouth catapulted a newbie into the spotlight, but an author with a solid following was more likely to win reader contests than not, since more people read her books. One thing I've always loved about the RITAs is the opportunity it often gives otherwise overlooked books/authors by saying, "Here's a gem you might have missed."

That's not to say, of course, that every reader will love every RITA winner, anymore than everyone loves even those authors/books deemed most popular by the majority of romance readers. I agree, authors may approach judging differently than non-authors -- but we're still readers, still moved (or not) by the same things that move non-authors. As judges, we still want to feel an emotional connection to the characters, still have to be swept up in the world the author has created, still want to think about the book long after I've finished it. We're just more able to articulate *why* a book works for us, perhaps. And if it takes *more* to fire an experienced author's jets, I don't necessarily think that's not a bad thing, IMO. Laughing

Karen Templeton
www.karentempleton.com
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Ash



Joined: 11 Jul 2011
Posts: 199

PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2012 6:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jaime wrote:
I read only one of the winners - The Black Hawk by Joanna Bourne (Yeah! for it winning!), and was familiar only with a few of the other winning authors.

Which makes me feel kind of ...inadequate as a romance reader. Do I need to turn in my romance reader badge? Embarassed


I certainly hope not as I'v only read two of the winners Razz (A Night To Surrender by Tessa Dare and Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison) I'm rather fond of my romance reader badge, Its 50 shades of happiness! Razz
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Yuri



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 289

PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2012 9:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I actually make a point to read the RITA nominees when I can and they average out at a B- for me. That said, every year, from 2006 I have picked up between one and six new authors from them so they are definitely worth checking out!

Personally I like how the Nebulas are decided, or used to be - I gather it may have changed in the last few years. Anyone on the membership can nominate a story and it has twelve months from the date of publication to get nominated. The nominations get published on a list on their website and then can be endorsed by other members - the books / novellas with the highest level of endorsements become the finalists and those are judged. Yes, it's a bit of a popularity contest but it only takes one nomination to get on the long list and that in itself will increase the number of people who read the story. That said I still tend to prefer finalists over winners.

I think industry judged contests are going to have slightly different outcomes to reader judged ones - simply because writers can appreciate the skill involved whereas readers only appreciate the results!
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LordRose



Joined: 25 Mar 2012
Posts: 87

PostPosted: Tue Jul 31, 2012 2:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've actually read three of the winners (The Black Hawk by Joanna Bourne, A Night to Surrender by Tessa Dare, and I Love the Earl by Caroline Linden). I feel very proud of myself.
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