2018 Heart-to-Heart Contest Rules

Contest Timeline

Friday, June 1, 2018 Contest Opens
Monday, September 3, 2018 9 PM Pacific time
 – Deadline for submissions (electronic only)
October 1, 2018 – First-Round Finalist Notification
November 5, 2018 – Final Round Winners Announced

How It Works

  • Enter – Send us your amazing first fifteen pages! No need to set the stage or give us a synopsis–let your characters do the talking. We can’t wait to read your work! (Limit: 4000 words.)
  • Win – Experienced, trained PRO and PAN authors provide detailed score sheets and feedback in ten areas.
  • Sell – Get your story in the hands of acquiring editors and agents.

Category Descriptions

  • CONTEMPORARY: Novels set from 1950 to the present
  • ROMANTIC SUSPENSE: Romance novels containing intrigue, suspense, thriller or mystery elements
  • EROTIC ROMANCE: Novels in which sensuality constitutes a strong element in the romance as the romantic relationship develops
  • HISTORICAL: Romance novels set prior to 1950
  • SPECULATIVE ROMANCE: Novels that mix the elements of paranormal, speculative fiction, or fantasy with the romance
  • YOUNG ADULT: Novels with a strong romantic theme geared toward the young adult reader. These novels may contain paranormal, time travel, futuristic, or fantasy elements.


Open to all writers unpublished in novel or novella format for the past five years as of the announcement of the Final Round Winners on November 5, 2018. Non-finalists may publish after the announcement of the First Round Finalists on October 1, 2018. “Published” is defined as having an ISBN and/or ASIN number on any work of novel or novella length.

Entry Guidelines

Enter the first fifteen pages of your manuscript (limit: 4,000 words). Each entry may be entered in one category, though you may submit as many entries as you wish. Each entry must be accompanied by its own contest entry form and payment.

Official Contest Rules

The San Francisco AreA RWA chapter reserves the right to limit entries to the first one hundred manuscripts received. Failure to comply with any of the entry requirements herein could result in disqualification.

  1. Categories: Awards will be given in the following categories: Contemporary, Romantic Suspense, Erotic Romance, Historical, Speculative Romance, and Young Adult. Please indicate on the contest entry form the category your manuscript should be entered in. If a minimum of 6 entries is not received for any category, the category will be eliminated. In this case, entrants will be notified and have the choice to receive a refund or submit the entry to a different category.
  2. First Round Judging: First round judges include experienced, trained PRO and PAN members. Each entry will be judged by three first-round judges. A score sheet focusing on 10 areas for a total of fifty possible points will be used by all judges. Judges are required not only to provide numerical scores but also to provide clarifying comments.
  3. Final Round Judging: The top three entries from each category will be forwarded to the final round. Final-round judges are literary agents, print editors, and e-publishing editors. Finalists in the first round will be notified by email or phone on or before October 1, 2018. Winners of the final round will be announced on or before November 5, 2018.
  4. Submission: All submissions must be submitted electronically, up to a maximum of 15 pages, according to the Manuscript Format Requirements detailed below. PAPER SUBMISSIONS WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED.

The following process will apply to all entries:

  1. Use the PayPal link shown on the Contest Entry Page to pay the entry fee; after making your payment, you’ll be redirected to the entry form. If the redirect doesn’t work, please e-mail us atheart2heartcontest@gmail.com with your PayPal Transaction ID.
  2. From the contest entry page, fill out the contest entry form to tell us about your submission. This form will ask you for identifying information that will allow us to contact you in the event of a final or win.
  3. The Contestant Waiver box in the online form constitutes a signature and must be checked in order for your entry to be accepted. Please read this carefully before accepting these terms. THIS IS MANDATORY!
  4. Once you have paid, submitted the online form, and properly formatted your entry, email it to heart2heartcontest@gmail.com attached as a *.rtf file.

Manuscript Formatting & Other Requirements

  • Font and Spacing: Double-spaced, Courier New or Times New Roman 12 point, 1-inch margins all around
  • Format: Entries will be accepted in Rich Text Format (*.rtf) ONLY.
  • Labeling: Please include the title and page number in the left corner header of each page. DO NOT include your name anywhere on the entry itself. Your name may appear only on the contest entry form. If it appears on any of the manuscript pages, your entry will be disqualified.
  • The Excerpt Itself: The entry is required to start at the very beginning of the book; pages should be numbered as they appear in the manuscript. You may submit more than one scene or chapter if you wish, as long as the total entry does not exceed 4,000 words. All scenes and pages must be consecutive.

Entry Fees

  • Fees are $25.00 per general entry and $15.00 per entry for SFA-RWA members
  • All fees are NON-REFUNDABLE, except as stated in Categories under Official Contest Rules
  • Please include your name, book title, and category in the Optional Instructions section on the payment form
  • Fees can be paid on the contest entry page.

2018 Heart-to-Heart Judges

The 2018 Heart-to-Heart contest will have three judges in each of our five categories: one agent, one traditional editor, and one epub editor:

1. Sue Grimshaw, Editor-at-Large @ Penguin-Random House – Ballantine, Bantam, Dell – Loveswept, Flirt
2. Toni Acquisitions, Editor for Extasy Books
3. Eva Scalzo, Literary Agent, Speilburg Literary Agency

1.A lycia Tornetta, Editor, Entangled
2. Jennie Conway, Editor, St. Martin’s Press
3. Lizzie Poteet, agent, Seymour Agency

1. Mackenzie Walton, Editor, Carina Press
(2nd and 3rd judges TBD)

1. Nikki Garcia, Associate Editor, Little, Brown Children’s
2. Laurie McLean, Fuse Literary Literary
3. Holly West, Editor, Swoon Reads

1. Mary Altman, Editor, Sourcebooks Romance
2. Tara Gelsomino, Agent, One Track Literary Agency
(3rd judge TBD)

Sound Good? Click Here to Enter the Contest Now!


Questions? E-mail the Contest Coordinator at heart2heartcontest@gmail.com