Romantic Novelists' Association

RNA Industry Awards: Finalists For The Inclusion Award 2023

10 October 2023

The Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA) is delighted to announce the shortlists for their annual Industry Awards for 2023. The awards celebrate the hard work and talent of any person, group or organisation who has championed the broad genre of romantic fiction in a positive way.


Hera Books

Hera books logo, redHera is an independent publisher of commercial fiction, publishing across the genres of women’s fiction, from romance to sagas and romcoms, as well as crime and thrillers and historical fiction. It was founded in 2018 and acquired by the Canelo Publishing Group in 2021 and publishes at least three books each month in simultaneous ebook and paperback original format. Since its inception, Hera has prided itself in providing readers with quality, accessible and page-turning fiction, with a particular focus on publishing underrepresented voices in commercial genres. In 2023 alone they have published a US-set LGBTQIA romcom, two uplifting and heartwarming reads with LGBTQIA characters by the Diversity Officer of the RNA, as well as a spicy US romance by a Jewish Writer of Colour and a captivating bookclub read that spans Sri Lanka to Yorkshire, by an Asian author who has been previously shortlisted for the Contemporary Romance Award at the RoNAs.

Keshini Naidoo from Hera says: ‘We could not be prouder to be shortlisted for the Inclusion Award. The mission statement for Hera Books is ‘Unashamedly commercial, always inclusive’ and that guiding principle is the backbone of everything we do. We fervently believe that underrepresented voices – whether those voices encompass issues of race, sexuality, social class or people with health conditions – should not be confined to literary fiction and that readers everywhere deserve to see themselves in fast-paced, commercial and page-turning narratives. Love is love, and everyone deserves to see themselves reflected in a book with a HEA! We are extremely proud and incredibly thankful to the members of the RNA who have taken the time to vote for Hera, it means the world to us.’


Claire Wade

Claire wade, woman in blue top in wheelchairClaire has severe ME and was bedbound for six years, her only escape was through her imagination; she writes about people trying to break free from the constraints of their lives, a subject she’s deeply familiar with. Claire founded the group Authors with Disabilities and Chronic Illnesses (ADCI) to connect and support disabled authors and work towards better access and inclusivity in the publishing industry. She runs the ADCI online group and hosts monthly virtual meetings to connect disabled authors, organising speakers to teach members the skills they need to become successful authors while also managing their disabilities and chronic illnesses. Claire has twice guest edited The Bookseller, the leading trade magazine for the UK publishing industry, using the opportunity to speak directly to editors, agents and publishers about the obstacles facing disabled authors. She has also chaired numerous panels on disability and publishing, including an upcoming event for the Cheltenham Literature Festival.

Claire says: ‘I’m so honoured to be a finalist for the second time in the RNA Inclusion Award 2023. Working towards diversity and inclusion within the publishing industry is an ongoing process, with small steps forward and still a long way to go. At times it can feel overwhelming but receiving this nomination means so much because it feels like recognition of all the hard-won progress I’ve achieved.’


The winners of the ten awards will be announced during the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Winter Party and Industry Awards ceremony, which is being held at the Leonardo Royal Hotel London City, 8-14 Cooper’s Row, London EC3N 2BQ, on Monday 13th November 2023 at 6.30pm.

This year’s awards are sponsored by ProWritingAid, a manuscript editing software programme with in-app video learning for writers. Hayley Milliman, Head of Education at ProWritingAid said, ‘Congratulations to the finalists for the 2023 RNA Industry Awards! We applaud your accomplishments and hard work bringing beautiful stories to life.’