2023 Stiletto Contest Rules and Guidelines

2023 Stiletto Contest Rules and Guidelines

The Stiletto Contest celebrates and recognizes excellence in the contemporary romance genre for published and unpublished novels.

Contemporary Romance Writers focuses on the contemporary romance genre, and the Stiletto Contest upholds the organization’s goal of bringing awareness to the best work by authors and writers in contemporary romance.

Categories:

All entries in the 2023 Stiletto Contest will be Contemporary Romance (works primarily set after
1970.) Entrants will determine which category and second-choice category best defines their
entry. The entry categories for Published and Unpublished Divisions are:

  • Contemporary Short (20,000 to 50,000 words)
  • Contemporary Mid-Length (50,000 to 80,000 words)
  • Contemporary Long (over 80,000 words)
  • Contemporary Young Adult / New Adult
  • Contemporary Women’s Fiction / Chick-Lit
  • Contemporary Speculative / Paranormal (includes Urban Fantasy with romance)
  • Contemporary Romantic Suspense
  • Contemporary Erotica

Published Entries and Submissions:

Eligibility: All traditional, small press, e-published, audio-published, and self-published novels released in 2022 are eligible.

  1. Any re-issue or re-release is not eligible for this contest (even if revised in whole or in part, renamed, and even if removed from POD or online purchase prior to the last five years).
  2. Any previous unpublished manuscript winner of the Stiletto Contest is not eligible to enter the same manuscript as a published entry.
  3. No anthologies will be accepted.
  4. All entries must have been released between January 1, 2022 and December 31, 2022. 
  5. All novels must have a 20,000-word count minimum. 
  6. Entries may be submitted beginning March 1, 2023.
  7. Deadline for entries is March 31, 2023 @ 11:59 pm Eastern Time.
  8. Electronic entries must be submitted in ePub and PDF format. (If Audio-first only a PDF can be submitted if an ePub file is not available.)
    • Entries submitted must use the novel’s title as the ePub/PDF file name. 
    • No paperback entries will be accepted.
    • There is no limit on the number of submissions per author.
    • Entries may be submitted to only ONE primary category. 
    • Each category has a 5-entry minimum requirement. All entries will be given the option to choose a second category in case the first option does not reach the minimum requirement. 
    • Do not select the same category as your first-choice category.
  9. CRW officers are not eligible to enter. 
  10. Membership in Contemporary Romance Writers is not required to enter or judge.

Unpublished Entries:

Eligibility: Authors may submit unpublished works under the following guidelines:

  1. The work is a standalone or, if the work is part of a series, it must be the first book in the series.
  2. The work must not be available on sites such as Wattpad.
  3. The work must not be under contract.
  4. Past Unpublished entries that did not final are eligible to re-enter any current Stiletto Contest categories.
  5. Published and unpublished writers are eligible to enter the 2023 Stiletto Contest Unpublished Division.

Ineligible:

  1. Past Unpublished entries that finaled in the Stiletto Contest.
  2. Re-issued work. Any work available for purchase online or in print at any time is considered published and is ineligible, even if revised in whole or in part, renamed, and even if removed from POD or online purchase prior to the last five years.
  3. Any unpublished entry found to have broken any of the unpublished manuscript rules will be automatically disqualified from the contest without a refund. 
  4. CRW officers are not eligible to enter. 

Submission guidelines: 

  1. All entries must have a 20,000-word count minimum. 
  2. Submissions must include the first 5,500 words of the manuscript.
  3. A 500-700 word synopsis must be included at the end of each entry
  • The synopsis is not included in the word count. 
  • The synopsis will not be judged as part of the entry. It is provided to ensure all entries have a “happily ever after” or “happily for now” ending. 

Manuscript formatting: 

  1. Times Roman 12 pt. font, double spaced with 1-inch margins.  
  2. The title of the manuscript must be at the top of each page in header format, along with the category entered and the page number.
  3. Do NOT include your name or any other writer identifying marks on the manuscript. 
  4. Be sure to remove all identifying file properties. Any manuscripts submitted with their name included will be disqualified without a refund. 
  5. The manuscript must be sent as a PDF file, submitted under the name of the manuscript title. 

Entries

  1. There is no limit on the number of submissions per writer.
  2. Each category has a 5-entry minimum requirement. 
  3. All entries will be given the option to choose a second category in case the first option does not reach the minimum requirement. 
  4. Do not select the same category as your first-choice category.
  5. Entries may be submitted beginning March 1, 2023. 
  6. Deadline for entries is March 31, 2023 @ 11:59pm Eastern Time.
  7. Entries that final in the unpublished category cannot be published in any format before the 2023 Stiletto Contest winners are announced at the Contemporary Romance Writers virtual conference being held July 29-30, 2023. Failure to follow this rule will result in entry disqualification without a refund. The author can have other published works, but the contest entry cannot be published. 
  8. If an editor or agent requests a full manuscript from a finalist, the requesting editor and/or agent’s publishing procedures/requirements are to be followed.
  9. Membership in Contemporary Romance Writers is not required to enter or judge. 

Entry Payments: 

  1. All entries and payments are non-refundable. 
  2. All payments must be made through PayPal. 
  3. Cost for each published and unpublished entry: 
    • Contemporary Romance Writers members $20 
    • Non-members $30
  4. Payment must be made before submitting an entry. Entries without a payment or completed submission form will not be judged and no refund will be issued. 

Judging:

  1. All entrants are required to judge in the Stiletto Contest. 
  2. First round judges are given a 1-5 point score rubric. Any judge that enters a score under 4 is required to give constructive feedback as to the reason for that score. 
  3. Unpublished division first-round score sheets will be returned to the entrants. 
  4. Unpublished division final judges are industry editors/professionals and/or agents. 
  5. The judges’ decisions are final.
  6. Published division score sheets will be returned to all non-finalists.
  7. Finalist published division score sheets will be returned to all finalists after the Stiletto Contest awards are announced on July 29, 2023.  
  8. Influencers in the romance book industry will judge published division finalists for a Reader’s Choice award in addition to the primary contest judging.

Timeline for Stiletto Contest:

  • Submissions open: March 1, 2023
  • Submissions close: March 31, 2023

Winners: 

  1. Finalists for Unpublished categories will be notified by May 22, 2023. 
  2. Finalists for Published categories will be notified by June 20, 2023.
  3. Winners will be announced at the Contemporary Romance Writers Conference to be held in July 2023.  
  4. First-place winners will receive an award or plaque and certificate.
  5. All finalists will receive a certificate.

Judge Oversight Committee 

Purpose – The Contemporary Romance Writers implements a judge oversight committee to secure the integrity of the Stiletto Contest.

  1. The Judge Oversight Committee will be coordinated by the Stiletto Contest chair and may include the Stiletto Contest chair and other volunteers if needed.
  2. The duties of the Judge Oversight Committee include monitoring scores and judges for all entries to ensure fair and objective scoring.

Anti-Discrimination Policy

The Stiletto Contest does not discriminate based on race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, or religion. We expect the same from our judges and entrants with a zero-tolerance policy. 

Any questions should be directed to contest@contemporaryromance.org