Final round judging – demystified!When you talk about what happens in the final round of the Golden Heart, and who judges, and how it all comes out, the stories take on urban legend proportions. Here to demystify the process is Stephani Fry, Projects Coordinator for the Romance Writers of America.
I want to thank Stephani for helping us out with this. If anyone has additional questions, please leave a comment. I’ll forward them to Stephani (keeping in mind she may not be able to answer all questions--there is still some secrecy involved).
Who are the final round judges?
The final round judges for the Golden Heart contest are editors actively acquiring romance fiction.
How many judges judge the final round for each category?
Each category has three judges.
What do the judges read? Only the first 55 pages and synopsis? The full manuscript? Is this at their discretion?
The judges read the synopsis and partial for every finalist in the category they are judging. Once they turn in their scores, they can request to read a finalist’s full manuscript.
How do you physically get the manuscripts to the judges? Email? Paper copies? A combination, depending on the judge?
Paper copies of the synopses and partials are physically delivered (by a service such as FedEx) to the final round judges. If an editor requests to read a full manuscript, this is also mailed, unless the editor requests an electronic version of the manuscript.
What is the timeframe for the judges to read?
Final round materials are shipped via FedEx in early April. Scores are due into the RWA office no later than June 1st. The editor has approximately two months to read all final round entries for the appropriate category and return scores.
What happens if a judge wants to request a full manuscript from an entrant? Does the entrant get a chance to send a revised copy?
In response to member concerns, beginning with the 2008 Golden Heart contest, the RWA office will notify the finalist that an editor with XYZ publishing house has requested to read her/his full manuscript. The actual editor’s name will remain confidential.
At this point, the entrant will have 24 hours to e-mail or overnight a revised version of the manuscript to the RWA office. Alternatively, the finalist can request that RWA send the editor a copy of the full manuscript already on file with the office.
How is the final ranking determined? Is the judging system similar to the first round or do judges rank manuscripts in order?
Judges in the final round of the Golden Heart rank the manuscripts, 1 – 8 (or the total number of finalists) with the best manuscript receiving a 1. Judges’ scores for each finalist are added together, and the entry with the lowest score in each category receives 1st place. Please see the example below.
Manuscript 5 received the lowest score, and therefore wins the Golden Heart in this category.