Administered and awarded by the Romantic Novelists’ Association

The awards are open for entry from 5th June 2023 and will close no later than 30th September 2023

Click the “How to Enter” tab for details of how to submit your work

You can read the terms and conditions (including eligibility criteria) by clicking here

The Romantic Novel Awards Organiser is Sharon Ibbotson. All enquiries to

The nine categories for the Romantic Novel Awards to be presented in May 2024 for books published in 2023 will be:

  • The Fantasy Romantic Novel Award: For romantic novels with elements where the reader needs to suspend disbelief, including magical realism, fantasy, science fiction, the paranormal, timeslip (in which a character moves between time periods) time travel novels and books with ‘ghostly’ elements.
  • The Jackie Collins Romantic Thriller Award: For stories featuring a substantial thriller, suspense, mystery or crime story, alongside or fully entwined with a romantic story. The romantic element should still be very strong throughout but the main storyline may be less of a traditional love story.  Novels set in any time period can be entered for this category.
  • The Debut Romantic Novel Award: For the best romantic novel by a first-time author. Entries may represent any aspect of the romantic genre. This is an excellent category for new writers or unestablished to shine amongst their peers.
  • The Christmas/Festive Holiday Romantic Novel Award: For the best romantic novel set in the winter festive season featuring Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Yule/New Year etc.
  • The Shorter Romantic Novel Award: For shorter romantic novels, serials or novellas. These may range from magazine serials, short stories of no less than 30,000 words to shorter novels of no more than 70,000 words approximately. Entries may represent any aspect of the romantic genre and can be set in any time period.
  • The Romantic Saga Award: For novels predominantly set in the past (pre 1970), usually featuring characters overcoming social pressures or hardships alongside or fully entwined with a romantic story thread. These may be part of a series but must be able to stand alone for readers who won’t have read the ones that went before.
  • The Jane Wenham-Jones Award for Romantic Comedy: For romantic novels which are consistently funny. Can be set in any time period.
  • The Historical Romantic Novel Award: For stories set in the past showing historic worlds, where romance forms a substantive and crucial part of the story. Romantic novels predominantly set pre-1980.
  • The Contemporary Romantic Novel Award: For stories about the here and now, where romance forms a substantive part of the story; any novel set predominantly in the last 50 years. Please also consider the following categories to see if the book you are entering might fit into another more suitable one.

The winners and shortlists will be selected by our panel of volunteer readers.

Stories which feature sexual abuse, rape, or child abuse depicted in a romanticised fashion, or for the purposes of titillation, are not eligible for these awards.

Entries will be judged in the category for which they have been entered so please make sure to choose the right one! If you would like to discuss the suitability of a book for a particular category, please contact the Awards Organiser.

The awards open on 5th June 2023 and close at midnight on 30th September 2023, or when the 500 entry limit is reached, if that comes before the closing date.

We encourage entries from authors irrespective of class, race, nationality, age, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion or background, and we welcome books with characters reflecting the full diversity of the real world.

Books can be entered in our reader-judged awards by authors or their publishers.

The books are assessed by members of the public – book-lovers who are not actively writing or members of the RNA. The short-lists for the reader-judged categories will be released prior to the awards ceremony in March, where the final winners of all the awards will be announced.

For further information, please contact our Romantic Novel Awards Organiser at


The RNA Industry Awards

Launched in 2015, the annual RNA Industry Awards is one of the UK publishing industry’s highlights and is designed to acknowledge and recognise the many professionals whose work supports and promotes the genre of romantic fiction. The award nominations come from the entire RNA membership and is our way of saying not only thank you but shining a spotlight on those considered the best in the business, enabling us to acknowledge and recognise the wide range of professionals who support our work, the genre and the association at large.

Romantic fiction is a world-wide, multi-billion dollar business of which the life force is thousands of writers and their readers. The Romantic Novelists’ Association is the UK’s largest professional body for the industry and benefits from the support, through membership and friendship, of many people including publishers, editors, agents and other industry professionals. Everyone involved in the industry fully appreciates that a book is not just the work of the author but the work of many and once a work has been produced, many more people become involved in what is a truly collaborative process.

The RNA Industry Award winners are solely decided by the membership. All members are eligible to nominate in each and every category, and nominations can be made online or via the printed form which appears as an insert in Romance Matters, the RNA magazine. The awards ceremony takes place each year at the RNA Winter Party in November.


Awards for our Members

The RNA also celebrates the achievements and potential of our own members, through the Joan Hessayon Award for New Writers, the Katie Fforde Bursary, and the Elizabeth Goudge Prize.

The Joan Hessayon Award for New Writers

The New Writers’ Scheme aims to encourage fresh talent in the writing of romances and novels with romantic elements, in every genre from historical to futuristic, with characters and love stories that reflect the diversity of readers everywhere. Any NWS manuscript that is subsequently published as a debut novel is eligible for the Joan Hessayon Award, provided that the author has remained in membership of the RNA.

The Award is generously sponsored by Dr David Hessayon, in honour of his late wife, Joan, who was a longstanding member of the RNA and a great supporter of the New Writers’ Scheme, and is judged by a panel of experienced RNA members and industry professionals.

If you think you may be eligible to be considered for the award, please check the eligibility rules below, then contact our New Writers’ Scheme Organiser.

*An author can only enter the award once (even though they may have been in the Scheme for several years).

Click here to visit our awards site and submit your work (opens in new tab)

Please note that you will need to register a new account on the awards site before submitting your work. You will not be able to log in using your login details for the RNA members’ area on this site.

Previous winners of the RNA’s main award are:

  • 2018: This Love by Dani Atkins (Simon & Schuster).
  • 2017: Love Song by Sophia Bennett (Chicken House)
  • 2016: Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey (Simon & Schuster)
  • 2015: Struck by Joss Stirling (Oxford University Press)
  • 2014: A Night on The Orient Express by Veronica Henry (Orion)
  • 2013: Welcome to Rosie Hopkin’s Sweetshop of Dreams by Jenny Colgan (Sphere, Little Brown)
  • 2012: Please Don’t Stop The Music by Jane Lovering (Choc Lit)
  • 2011: The Last Letter From Your Lover by Jojo Moyes(Hodder & Stoughton)
  • 2010: Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts by Lucy Dillon (Hodder & Stoughton)
  • 2009: East of the Sun by Julia Gregson (Orion)
  • 2008: Pillow Talk by Freya North (Harper Collins)
  • 2007: Iris & Ruby by Rosie Thomas (Harper Collins)
  • 2006: Gardens of Delight by Erica James (Orion)
  • 2005: A Good Voyage by Katharine Davies (Chatto & Windus)
  • 2004: Foreign Fruit by Jojo Moyes (Hodder & Stoughton)
  • 2003: Playing James by Sarah Mason (Time Warner)
  • 2002: The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory (Harper Collins)
  • 2001: Someone Like You by Cathy Kelly (Harper Collins)
  • 2000: Dancing In The Dark by Maureen Lee (Orion)
  • 1999: Learning To Swim by Clare Chambers (Arrow)
  • 1998: Kiss And Kin by Angela Lambert (Bantam)
  • 1997: The Hours Of The Night by Sue Gee (Century)
  • 1996: Coming Home by Rosamunde Pilcher (Hodder & Stoughton)
  • 1995: Change Of Heart by Charlotte Bingham (Doubleday)
  • 1994: Consider The Lily by Elizabeth Buchan (Macmillan)
  • 1993: Emily by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles (Sidgwick & Jackson)
  • 1992: Sandstorm by June Knox-Mawer (Weidenfeld)
  • 1991: Phantom by Susan Kay (Transworld)
  • 1990: Passing Glory by Reay Tannahill (Century)
  • 1989: The Peacock’s Feather by Sarah Woodhouse (Century)
  • 1988: The Juniper Bush by Audrey Howard (Century)
  • 1987: A Better World Than This by Marie Joseph (Century)
  • 1986: A Song Twice Over by Brenda Jagger (Collins)
  • 1985: Sunrise by Rosie Thomas (Piatkus)
  • 1984: A Highly Respectable Marriage by Sheila Walsh (Hurst & Blackett)
  • 1983: Magic Flutes by Eva Ibbotson (Century)
  • 1982: Zemindar by Valerie Fitzgerald (Bodley)
  • 1981: The Red Staircase by Gwendoline Butler (Collins)
  • 1980: Parson Harding’s Daughter by Joanna Trollope (Hutchinson)
  • 1980 – Best Modern Award: Mr Rodriguez by Mary Howard (Collins)
  • 1979 – Award Of Special Merit: The Emerald Peacock by Katharine Gordon (Hodder & Stoughton)
  • 1979: Countess by Josephine Edgar (Macdonald & Jane)
  • 1978: Merlin’s Keep by Madeleine Brent (Souvenir)
  • 1978 – Best Modern Award: It Was The Lark by Catherine Macarthur (Macdonald & Jane)
  • 1977: Every Man A King by Anne Worboys (Hodder & Stoughton)
  • 1976: The Look Of Innocence by Anna Gilbert (Hodder & Stoughton)
  • 1976 – Best Modern Award: The Moon Is Square by Margaret Maddocks (Hurst & Blackett)
  • 1975: Vote For A Silk Gown by Jay Allerton (Troubadour)
  • 1974: The Burning Lamp by Frances Murray (Hodder & Stoughton)
  • 1973: The House Of Kuragin by Constance Heaven (Heinemann)
  • 1972: The Pride Of Innocence by Maynah Lewis (Hurst & Blackett)
  • 1971: Flower Of Silence by Joanne Marshall (Harlequin Mills & Boon)
  • 1970: Cat On A Broomstick by Joanne Marshall (Herbert Jenkins)
  • 1970: Thea by Margaret Maddocks (Hurst & Blackett)
  • 1970: Broken Tapestry by Rona Randall (Hurst & Blackett)
  • 1969: Comfort and Keep by Doris E Smith (Ward Lock)
  • 1968: The Future Is Forever by Maynah Lewis (Hurst & Blackett)
  • 1967: The Truth Game by Anne Betteridge (Hurst & Blackett)
  • 1965: The Silver Answer by Margaret Maddocks (Hurst & Blackett)
  • 1964: Journey from Yesterday by Suzanne Ebel (Collins)
  • 1963: House Divided by Dorothy M Gray (Hurst & Blackett)
  • 1962: Larksbrook by Margaret Maddocks (Hurst & Blackett)
  • 1961: The Witches Sabbath by Paula Allardyce (Hodder & Stoughton)
  • 1960: More Than Friendship by Mary Howard (Collins)

The RNA Outstanding Achievement award is in recognition of extraordinary contribution to the field of romantic fiction.

Previous recipients of the RNA Outstanding Achievement Award are:

2023:   Katie Fforde
2021:   Mike Gayle
2020:   Milly Johnson
2019:   Liz Fielding
2018:   Jilly Cooper
2017:   Barbara Erskine
             Adele Parks
2016:   Anita Burgh
             Claire Lorrimer
2015 :  Carole Matthews
             Jill Mansell
2014:   Dr. David Hessayon
             Helen Fielding
2013:   Sophie Kinsella
2012:   Karin Stoecker, Former Editorial Director of Harlequin Mills and Boon
2011:   Penny Jordan
            Josephine Cox
2010:   Joanna Trollope
2009:   John Hale of Robert Hale publishers
2008:   Judy Piatkus
2007:   No one awarded that year
2006   Lucilla Andrews, Rosamunde Pilcher,Mary Stewart, held at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, hosted by Robin Harper, MSP
2006 was the first time this award was presented.

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