Maggie Awards For Unpublished Romance Novelists Rules

The purpose of the Maggie Award of Excellence is to encourage, recognize, and reward the mastery of romance writing by unpublished authors of romantic fiction.


Unpublished Maggie Contest Entry Form

(Entry must have a minimum length of 40,000 words and fit into one of the following romance categories)

  • Category/Short Romance (CSR)
  • Contemporary Single Title (CST)
  • Historical (includes Regencies; HR)
  • Mainstream Fiction with a Central Romance (formerly Novel with Strong Romantic Elements; MFCR)
  • Paranormal (includes Futuristic, Time Travel, Fantasy, etc.; PFR)
  • Romance with Religious or Spiritual Elements (not to be confused with Paranormal/Fantasy; RR)
  • Romantic Suspense (RS)
  • Young Adult (YA)

Detailed category descriptions 


  • If you are published with more than 40,000 words, either traditional or self-published, you are ineligible for Unpublished Maggies. Please see the Published Maggies rules.
  • If you are a published author who has not been published in 5 years or more, you are eligible.
  • Authors who have accepted a publishing offer for, or Self-Published, any work of original fictional narrative prose of 40,000 words or more by the date the contest opens is not eligible to enter the Maggies.
  • Entered works must not be published as long as they are under consideration for the Maggie Award.
  • All entries are to be submitted electronically, via email.
  • An author is limited to three (3) entries per category. There is no cap to the number of categories an author may enter. In other words, an author could enter every category up to three times as long as each entry was a different unpublished manuscript.
  • An entry may not be entered in more than one category.
  • An entry must not have previously received a Maggie Medallion.
  • Categories with fewer than 10 submissions may be canceled. Entrants will be contacted to either select another category or request a refund.


  • Three (3) published authors will judge each entry. Editors/Agents in the romance genre will judge the final round.
  • Judges will critique the manuscripts with constructive feedback.
  • Decision of the judge is final.
  • Names of the First Round Judges will NOT be released to entrants.


  • First place / highest scored manuscript in each category will receive the Maggie Medallion.
  • All finalists will receive certificates.
  • Finalists will be notified by Thursday, June 29, 2017.
  • Winners will be announced September 30, 2017 at The GRW Moonlight & Magnolias Conference.

Format Requirements:

Please read instructions carefully.

  • Standard manuscript format; double spaced, one inch margins, no more than 27 lines per page with header (title, contest category in upper left, page number in upper right).
  • 12 pt font in either Times New Roman or Courier.
  • Title must match what is listed on your online entry form.
  • A copy of the confirmation sent to you upon payment must be attached.
  • Author name must NOT appear on the manuscript or your entry will be disqualified and entry fee forfeited.
  • Total number of double-spaced pages may not exceed 35 pages per entry. Entry must include (in ONE document):
    • prologue (if applicable)
    • first chapter(s)
    • synopsis (typically a few pages, but not more than 10 pages, double-spaced, and placed at the end)
  • Entry to be submitted electronically only, in rich text format (.rtf).
  • Entry to be saved by manuscript title.


Some Mac users have difficulty when saving a DOC/DOCX file to the RTF format and suddenly, the header disappears. Mac defaults Word processing to the TextEditor for RTF files instead of Word. (Texteditor is a simple, open source word processing function.)

If so, please consider following the below steps to rid of the TextEditor default for RTF files. You only need to do this once. After that, Word and all of the features will work as they should with RTF docs.
Steps to convert RTF/Word documents from TextEditor to Word:

  1. Take a deep breath. 🙂
  2. Open up your FINDER (where all your files are stored) and locate your entry.
  3. Highlight the entry/file.
  4. Right click on it.
  5. Scroll down and choose GET INFO.
  6. Scroll down and choose OTHER.
  7. Select Microsoft WORD.
  8. Select CHANGE ALL (this will prevent it from happening to RTF docs again).

If you want to read more about it, here is a link to a good discussion of why it happens.

Fees and Entry Procedures:

  • Non-Member – $40
  • RWA Member: $30
  • GRW Member: $25
    • Payment through Paypal only. No personal checks accepted.
    • PLEASE PAY ONLY ONCE. If you are unsure your payment has been processed, please contact the Maggie Chair at or check your Paypal account. If you pay twice, we will refund your money by check (required by our bylaws), less the Paypal fees.
  • Please list category, manuscript title and author name in the memo section of the Paypal form so they can be matched with the entry forms. Also, please click back to the GRW site after payment to complete the entry.
  • The entry will not be approved until the coordinator for that category has received official verification payment has been received by the GRW Treasurer. If you do not receive confirmation of receipt of your entry before the deadline, please notify the Maggie Chair immediately.
  • Email your entry to the Category Coordinator. You will receive the address information in your registration confirmation email.
  • Include:
    • Email Subject line: Title/Category/Entrant Name
    • Attach both a copy of Confirmation Email, payment confirmation, and your Entry (saved by manuscript title in .rtf format)


April 30, 2017 – 10 PM Eastern

  • Appropriate fees must be received by the GRW Treasurer and funds verified before your entry will be accepted.
  • Entries, including completed entry form, must be RECEIVED at the appropriate email address you will be given for your chosen category and accepted by April 30, 2017, 10:00 pm, Eastern Time AND before your category is full.
  • Those received after that date or received after the category is declared full will be rejected for entry.
  • Failure to comply with any of the above rules may disqualify the entry and the entry fee will not be refunded.

Return of Entries:

Every effort will be made to return entries before the 2017 Moonlight & Magnolias Conference.

Maggie Unpublished Authors Submission Form


Contact Maggie Chair, Christina Crayn at

Final Round Judges for Unpublished Maggies

(Subject to change)

Contemporary Single Title Romance

Stephanie Doig

Assistant Editor, Carina Press/Harlequin

Category/Short Romance

Cindy Davis

Editor, Wild Rose Press

Romance with Religious or Spiritual Elements

Raela Schoenherr

Acquisitions Editor – Bethany House Publishers

Historical Romance

Michele Bidelspach

Senior Editor, Grand Central Publishing/Hachette Book Group

Paranormal/Fantasy Romance

Mary Altman

Editor, Sourcebooks

Young Adult Romance

Kate Brauning

Senior Editor, Entangled Publishing

 Mainstream Fiction with a Central Romance

Amy Stapp

Editor, Tor Teen/Forge Books

Romantic Suspense

Cheryl Yeko

Senior Acquisitions Editor, Soul Mate Publishing