Since 1982 Romance Writers of America (RWA) has sponsored the romance-publishing industry's highest award of distinction — the RITA Award. Originally titled the Golden Medallion award, it was re-named in 1990 after RWA’s first president, Rita Clay Estrada. The RITA awards are presented annually to the best published romance novels of the year. The award, a golden statuette, has become the “symbol for the best in published romance fiction” according to RWA.
Romance novels are nominated by authors or their publisher, and entered into twelve different categories each year in the competition, and are judged by their own peers—other published romance authors. The list of finalists is narrowed to approximately 100 books. The winners are then announced at the annual Romance Writers of America conference held each summer. This year's convention is in Washington, D.C., July 15-18, 2009
Yesterday the list of finalists were announced for romance novels published in 2008.
What you’ll see in that list is a wide array of books published by the larger publishing houses. What you won’t see are books published by small presses. Which is very sad, I think, for there are some wonderful books out there published by small, independent presses which will never have the opportunity to compete for a RITA due to RWA’s entry rules.
But that is okay, I suppose. It is what it is, and congratulations to the finalists! Too bad, however, there isn’t a Slumdog Millionaire in the running. Ah, maybe next year...