gateway to the best

what is the gateway to the best?

A contest for unpublished and self-published authors
The annual Gateway to the Best contest is open to anyone not published since July 30, 2016 and self-published authors with any work that has not at any time been published or self-published. MORWA will consider any work available for purchase online or in print at any time to be published and ineligible. 

 You do not need to be a member of RWA® to enter this contest.

Open to the public.

** All information on this web page is subject to the Official Rules of this contest.

View Official Rules

Now recruiting first round judges!

The Gateway to the Best contest needs first round judges to read manuscripts, score entries, and provide kind, honest feedback to contest authors.  To be a judge, you should have a solid understanding of the romance genre and subgenres listed in contest categories and of the craft of writing a novel and/or a novella.

We do not require judges to be published, but we do expect our judges to know what they're talking about.  One of the reasons our contest authors enter the Gateway is to receive feedback on what works in their story and what doesn't.  Judges are expected to provide constructive comments inside the manuscripts (which are returned to the author in PDF format) as well as provide well-thought out and constructive comments explaining your scores in the judging sheet.  

We provide instructions regarding our score sheet expectations and how to use our electronic score sheets and our contest coordinator is always available to answer questions.

If you're interested in judging the Gateway to the Best contest, please click the button below to go to our sign-up form.  

Sign Up to Judge the Gateway to the Best Contest

prizes

Grand Prize:
$100 cash

First, second, and third places are awarded in each category.  See official rules for category winner prizes and judging calculation methods.

View Official Rules

schedule & deadlines

The Gateway to the Best contest will open for entry submission on August 19, 2019. 

Entries must be RECEIVED not later than 11:59 pm CDT September 7, 2019.

First Round Finalists Announced on/about: October 12, 2019. 

Final Judging Results Announced on/about: November 15, 2018.

judging criteria

Each entry will be judged by three experienced judges with the lowest of the three scores dropped from the final tabulations. 
 Judges will be encouraged to write comments on both the score sheet and manuscript.

View Judge's 
Score Sheet

submission package

The Gateway to the Best Contest is an electronic format only contest. Please read the official rules prior to completing the submission process. 

Manuscripts must be in Word .doc, .docx (preferred) or standard .rtf (rich text format) only. We will reject entries that do not conform to one of these formats.

View Official 
Rules

here are some of our frequently asked questions

HOW DO YOU CHECK THE WORD COUNT I SUBMITTED?

We use the word count feature in our word processing software when we first review your manuscript.  

We have found instances in which documents converted from Mac Pages to .docx format has increased the word count between the two programs.

WHAT IF MY WORD COUNT IS OVER 7,000 WORDS?

Accidents happen.  The contest or category coordinator has the option of contacting the author and asking for the submission file to be fixed, letting the manuscript pass on to the judges as is, modifying the manuscript themselves, or refusing to accept the entry. 

 Please note that refusing the entry because of incorrect word count does not justify a refund of entry fees.

SHOULD I SEND A SYNOPSIS WITH MY MANUSCRIPT?

Please don't send a synopsis.  

The Gateway to the Best contest asks our judges to look at your story the same way most readers do - by sitting down with the first 25 or so pages and reading them.

We don't want the judge to be influenced by the story your synopsis reveals, but by the writing you provide them.

If you do include a synopsis, we will remove it from the file before forwarding your ms to the judges.

IF YOU'VE READ THE OFFICIAL RULES, LOOKED OVER THE SCORE SHEET AND STILL HAVE QUESTIONS...
Send us a message!