Categories & Judging

NRCA Category Descriptions and Judging Guidelines

For the purposes of the NATIONAL READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS:

    • A “Novella” is a work of fictional narrative prose in the romance genre typically 20,000–40,000 words long. A Novella may be included with other novellas in a longer work. Only the novella entered in the NRCA will be judged.
    • A “Novel” is a work of fictional narrative prose in the romance genre of at least 40,000 words as determined by computer word count. Novel entries with word counts less than 40,000 will be disqualified.
    • Series” is defined as those books issued under a common imprint/series name that are usually numbered sequentially and released at regular intervals, usually monthly, with the same number of releases each time.

All categories may have varying levels of sensuality, ranging from sweet to extremely hot,
with the Erotic category topping out the heat level.

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♦ Contemporary Series RomanceSeries romance novels that focus primarily on the romantic relationship.
Judging guidelines: In this category, the love story is the main focus of the novel, and the end of the book is emotionally satisfying and optimistic.

♦ Contemporary Series Romance: Suspense/Adventure: Series romance novels that focus primarily on the romantic relationship but may have more complex suspense or adventure subplots.
Judging guidelines: In this category, the love story is the main focus of the novel, and the end of the book is emotionally satisfying and optimistic.

♦ Contemporary Single Title Romance: Romance novels that focus primarily on the romantic relationship, released as individual titles, not as part of a series.
Judging guidelines: In this category, the love story is the main focus of the novel, and the end of the book is emotionally satisfying and optimistic.

 ♦ Erotic: A romance novel where the sexuality goes beyond that of most romance novels and may use sexually explicit language, but the romance is still the core of the book. Can be in contemporary, historical or paranormal settings.
Judging guidelines: In this category, the love story is the main focus of the novel, and the end of the book is emotionally satisfying.

♦ Historical Romance: Romance novels set in any time period prior to 1945, and taking place in any location.
Judging guidelines: In this category, the love story is the main focus of the novel, and the end of the book is emotionally satisfying and optimistic.

♦ Inspirational Romance: Romance novels in which religious or spiritual beliefs (in the context of any religion or spiritual belief system) are a major part of the romantic relationship.
Judging guidelines: In this category, religious or spiritual beliefs (in the context of any religion or spiritual belief system) are blended with and form a significant part of the love story, and the end of the book is emotionally satisfying and optimistic.

♦ Novel with Strong Romantic Elements: A work of fiction in which a romance plays a significant part in the story, but other themes or elements take the plot beyond the traditional romance boundaries.
Judging guidelines: Novels of any tone or style, set in any place or time are eligible for this category. A romance must be an integral part of the plot or subplot, and the resolution of the romance is emotionally satisfying.

♦ Novella: Novellas that focus primarily on the romantic relationship.
Judging guidelines: In this category, a love story is the main focus, and the ending is emotionally satisfying and optimistic. Typically, the word count is 20,000–40,000 words. Novellas may be part of an anthology but should be judged only on its individual merits.

♦ Paranormal Romance: Romance novels in which the future, time travel, a fantasy world or paranormal happenings are an integral part of the plot.
Judging guidelines: In this category, a futuristic, time travel, fantasy, or paranormal element is blended with the love story, which is the main focus of the novel, and the end of the book is emotionally satisfying.

♦ Romantic Suspense: Romance novels in which suspense, mystery, or thriller elements constitute an integral part of the plot.
Judging guidelines: In this category, a suspense/mystery/thriller plot is blended with a love story, which is the main focus of the novel, and the end of the book is emotionally satisfying and optimistic.

♦ Young Adult: Novels geared toward young adult readers.
Judging guidelines: In this category, the character arc is an important element of the novel, as is a voice and writing style suitable to young adults.

♦ Best First Book: A full-length book entered in any of the other contest categories. To be eligible, the author (or authors in the case of a writing team) shall not have had any other novel or novella previously published in any format. There is an additional entry free for this category.

To sign up for judging:

▓NRCA READER/JUDGE REGISTRATION FORM CLICK HERE