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2021 Booksellers’ Best Award


A Published Authors’ Contest Sponsored by GDRWA


Co-Chairs: A.J. Norris, Tana Jenkins, Cynthia Anne Hurt, Gin Sun


Send questions to:

The contest is now closed for entries.

NOTE REGARDING OUR CONTEST: GDRW disaffiliated from the national organization, Romance Writers of America (RWA), November 2021. Due to the timing of our organizational changes, and with a new board term starting January 2022, we decided it would be best to delay the contest one more year. We anticipate that the new board will have an announcement about the contest by the summer of 2022, and you are welcome to check back on our website or our social media platforms to get updates. Our Facebook link can be found here:



See the categories below and click on the purple button of the category you wish to enter.

One entry form per entry. If you have trouble submitting using our online form please email us at



Entry fees are as follows:

  • $25 entry fee per book for RWA members

  • $35 entry fee per book for non-RWA members

  • $7 additional fee for the Patti Shenberger Best First Book entry


How to pay:

  • Pay here with PayPal


Once the entry form has been received, a confirmation email will be sent to you with instructions on mailing your books to the Category Coordinator. Do NOT mail your books until after the entry fee has been paid. Authors who mail their books without paying the entry fee by the deadline are responsible for shipping costs to return the books.

*You must send four (4) AUTOGRAPHED copies of your entry (not returned). The Category Coordinator will send a confirmation email once the entry has been received. Extra books not used for judging will be donated to charity.

*No additional books are required for the First Book category.

*No additional books required for finalists.

*Do not send anything “signature required.” If you need confirmation of receipt, please send via USPS “Delivery Confirmation” mail.



* Entry must have a December 2019 through December 2020 copyright or first U.S. Printing
* Entry in the Best First Book category must be the author’s FIRST novel or novella that meets the above requirements. Also, see the FAQ below.
* Each title may only be entered in one category (plus the First Book category).
* Failure to follow rules or meet deadlines may result in disqualification.
* Print, ebook and self-published all welcome to enter
* If entry is in ebook format, it must be printed using a standard 12-point font and must be securely bound using traditional binding, a slide cover, or three-ring soft hard/cover binder, etc.
* We reserve the right to enter your book in your secondary category if we don’t receive sufficient entries in your first category.
* Contest may close earlier than January 8, 2021, if the maximum number of entries are received, based on judges’ capacity.



*1/8/21 Entry forms submitted and fees must be paid by 11:59 p.m. EST. Contest may close earlier than January 8, 2021, if the maximum number of entries are received, based on judges’ capacity. *1/18/21 Books must be received by coordinators
*On or before 5/28/21, finalists will be notified
*On or before 5/31/21, finalists’ names will be posted on GDRW website
*July 2021, Evening awards reception. GDRW reserves the right to host a virtual event.
*On or before 8/15/21 – winners’ names will be posted on the GDRW website




*All judges will be booksellers or librarians who are committed to upholding our mission statement to support all facets of the romance genre. 

*Scores are not disclosed and there is no feedback provided.

Each entry will be judged by three judges who will answer the following two questions.

  1. Is the resolution of the romance emotionally satisfying and optimistic?

  2. Does the entry fall within the category description?

Two or more ‘NO’ answers will result in disqualification of the entry. In addition, each book is rated with a score of 1-5 (including decimals) in the following areas: Technique, Mechanics, Storytelling, Goal / Motivation / Conflict, and Overall Impression. Scores from all five categories are tallied for a total score.

In the event of a tie, both entries will be deemed winners.


* Uniquely designed award for each winner
* Gift for winning book’s editor
* Reception for all finalists. GDRW reserves the right to hold a virtual event.
* Finalists’ names, and winners’ names and book covers posted on GDRW site
* Certificates to all finalists and winners


ENTER ONLINE (Enter your book by category by clicking on the category name. Only one entry per form.)


A novel (40,001 to 60,000 words) where the primary focus highlights the romantic relationship as the central part of the story. Romantic suspense, mystery or thriller elements can blend with the plot to form a part of the love story. Excludes Inspirational. Enter Short Contemporary Here! Short Contemporary Romance Coordinator: Tana Jenkins –


A novel (60,001 to 80,000 words) where the primary focus highlights the romantic relationship as the central part of the story. Romantic suspense, mystery or thriller elements can blend with the plot to form a part of the love story. Excludes Inspirational. Enter Mid Contemporary Here! Mid-Length Contemporary Romance Coordinator: Kathy Regan –


A novel (80,001+ words) where the primary focus highlights the romantic relationship as the central part of the story. Romantic suspense, mystery or thriller elements can blend with the plot to form a part of the love story. Excludes inspirational. Enter Long Contemporary Here! 

Long Contemporary Romance Coordinator: Kay Krieg –


Novels (40,001+ words) in which suspense, mystery, or thriller elements constitute an INTEGRAL part of the plot and are blended with the love story. Enter Romantic Suspense Here! Romantic Suspense Coordinator: Cheryl Smith –


(40,001+ words) While there is a romance – or multiple romances – it is not a driving force to the plotline or central to the storyline. Novels written in varying tone, styles, and time periods can be considered eligible for this category. Commercial fiction, literary fiction, suspense/mystery/thriller fiction, or novels with thematic or emotional elements, including women’s self-discovery or emotional life journey where romance is present in the story but not the central focus, can be considered in this category. Must include an HEA or happy for now ending. Enter Single Title Here! Mainstream/Single Title Coordinator: Dana Nussio –


A novel (40,001+ words) where spiritual or religious beliefs blend with the plot to form a significant part of the love story. The character’s journey should include not only inward and outward character growth, but also spiritual growth. The romance should be central to the story development and can include historical, suspense/mystery, or contemporary elements. Enter Inspirational Romance Here! 

Inspirational Romance Coordinator: Linda Bradley –


A novel (40,001+ words) set in any time period and any location prior to 1950.  The romance should be central to the story development. Suspense or mystery elements can be included within the plot as long as the historical setting remains uncompromised and the love story remains the central focus of the plot. Enter Historical Romance Here! 

Historical Romance Coordinator: Cynthia Anne Hurt –


A novel (40,001+ words) where a romantic relationship – or relationships – is developed through sexual interactions. The sex is an inherent part of the story, character growth, and relationship development, and can’t be removed without damaging the storyline. Must have a HEA or Happy for Now ending. Enter Erotic Romance Here! Erotic Coordinator: Gin Sun –


A novel (40,001+ words) in which paranormal/fantasy elements are integral parts of the plot. The paranormal/fantasy elements should blend with the love story. Paranormal, Science Fiction, Futuristic, Fantasy, Time Travel, and Urban Fantasy Romances also fit into this category. Urban Fantasies might not have a Happily-Ever-After at the end but must elude to a potential one at the end of the series. Enter Paranormal/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy Here! Paranormal Romance Coordinator: Amy Sevan –


A novel (40,001+ words) with romantic themes interwoven with young adult issues and concerns to form the central part of the story. Young adults between the ages of 12-19 should be the targeted audience. Plots can include, but are not limited to, elements such as historical, paranormal, suspense/thriller, or mystery. Enter YA Here! Young Adult Romance Coordinator: Cana Owens –


Focuses on the romantic relationship in a story of 15,000 to 40,000 words. Accepted categories of novellas include contemporary, erotic, inspirational, romantic suspense, young adult, historical, and paranormal. Enter Novella Here! 

Novella Coordinator​​​​: D.A. Henneman –


What’s your refund policy?

Refunds will be granted in full until the final submission due date. Please do not mail your 4 signed book copies until after payment of the entry fee. Books received by the category coordinators will only be returned at the cost of the author who entered.

Do you accept eBook entries?

Yes, you may enter an eBook if you print 4 copies, bind and sign them for submission. We’re not picky! Use a three ring binder or have it professionally bound. It’s your choice.

Can I enter the Patti Shenberger Best First Book contest if I’ve been published in an anthology or in another genre outside of romance?

No, we’re sorry! Only first published books (regardless of length or genre) may be entered.

Can I enter a book from a serial?

You can, but we do not recommend it. Every judge is required to answer the question: Is the resolution of the romance emotionally satisfying and optimistic? As a serial is a single story broken down into multiple books, it is unlikely a judge will answer “yes” to this question. Two or more “no” answers will result in the book being disqualified.

Who is coordinator for my romance category?

Refer above for the list of coordinators by category.

Can I send books directly from my publisher?

Yes, but you must mail bookplates with your signature to the coordinator for the romance category you entered.

If I enter different books in multiple categories, can I send all of my books to one coordinator?

Yes, but you must email one of the co-chairs listed at the top of this page with your request and they will determine which coordinator you should mail all of your books to.

Can I enter a LGBTQ book?

Absolutely! We do not have a separate category for LGBTQ so please enter your book in the appropriate category based on your story.

Can I enter a ménage story?

Absolutely! We recommend you enter your book in the erotic romance category.

Can I enter the same book in multiple categories?

No, we’re sorry. This is not allowed.

Are there any themes / tropes prohibited in the books entered in this contest?

Yes, there are prohibited themes/tropes. Please do not enter books which include beastiality, steamy shifter sex (in animal form), edge play (i.e. blood, breath, scat/urine, knife, and gun), incest, necrophilia, or rape as titillation.



Entry in the Bookseller’s Best Award Contest constitutes agreement by the author to conform to all contest rules, abide by the decisions of the judges, and hold blameless the Greater Detroit Romance Writers, the Booksellers’ Best Award Contest Coordinators, and all judges. In entering, the author agrees to indemnify, defend, and hold harmless the Chapter, its officers, members, and all judges of the Contest from liability for its/their actions arising from or relating to judging and handling of the entry and conducting, sponsoring and advertising the event.

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