NERFA 2024 Logo

Terms and Conditions for National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award annual contest.

First Coast Romance Writers (FCRW) and the National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award (NERFA) contests rules are regulations are spelled out on the How To Enter page.


  • Published in digital format in the United States in the previous year
  • Books must be entered in PDF format. All entries must have an original copyright date within the previous year and must have been available for purchase in the United States beginning in the previous year. Independent press, self-published, and digital-first or digital-only books may be entered as long as they meet all eligibility requirements. Electronic entries must match the version available at retailers.
  • Fee: $40 Digital. Add $5 to also enter Best First Book category.
  • Currently, PayPal is the only acceptable payment form and must be submitted using the PayPal button on the entry form. Payment must be received before the end of March of the current year at 7 pm (Eastern) to be accepted. Because the number of entries is capped, entrants are encouraged to make payments promptly.

Prizes: All finalists will receive a NERFA Finalist web logo and certificate. Finalists and winners will be announced on the FCRW website, the FCRW Reader and Author Gazette newsletter, and their social media channels. Winners will receive a NERFA Winner web logo and trophy.


First Round Judges: Romance Readers

Final Round Judges: Bloggers, Booksellers, and Librarians

Each book will be judged by three reader judges using a reader-based “Score Sheet.”

The top three books with the highest scores in each category will advance to the final round.

The final round for each category will be judged by a blogger, bookseller, or librarian, who will determine the category winners. Ties will be broken with the “overall score” question on the scoresheet. That number is not used unless there is a tie.

Dates and Deadlines:

January 15th  –  February 28th  round judge sign up

March 1st – 31st Contest open to entries

March 31st – Contest closed. All entries must be paid

April 8th – May 19th – 1st Round Judging (6 weeks to judge books)

June 1st – Finalists announced

June 1-30th – Final Round Judging

July 8th – Winners Announced



To give entrants the most for his/her entry dollar, and in an effort not to overwhelm our judges, the number of entries will be capped at 200.

Note: While FCRW requires judges to agree to NOT re-distribute or share PDF documents, FCRW has no way to enforce this policy. The author accepts this risk by sending a PDF document and none will be returned. They will be deleted after the required time period for accounting and/or legal purposes.

In order to ensure permission has been given to distribute PDF books to judges, only the author or publisher may enter PDF format books.

Membership in any particular writing organization is not required to enter a romance in the contest.

There is no limit to the number of titles by the same author that may be entered, but each title may be entered in only one category and a separate entry fee and entry form are required for each title entered. The scores and opinions of the reader judges and final round judges in no way reflect the opinions of FCRW and are the sole opinions of those judges.

Contact information:

Contact the contest coordinator by using the CONTACT US FORM with any questions.

The National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award is sponsored by First Coast Romance Writers (FCRW). FCRW is an organization for both published and unpublished writers. The independent, non-profit organization is dedicated to promoting excellence in romantic fiction through monthly meetings and workshops where published and unpublished writers share knowledge about the constantly evolving publishing industry.

First Coast Romance Writers reserves the right to add, change or delete any portion of these terms and conditions when necessary.