Wednesday, December 04, 2013

YA, Ritas, and Rules

So, this year the RWA Rita awards did not receive enough submissions for the Young Adult category. I am beyond sad about this.  I think YA is an important segment of the romance community, and I share in everyone's sadness because I know I've read some great YA romances this year and I'm sad they (possibly) won't have the chance to compete. 
This has happened before.  YA got cancelled once before in 2007, also due to lack of entries and you know what happened that year - a YA romance (that I am not remotely impartial about) won Best Contemporary Single Title.  So, my first hope is that most of the YA submissions chose a second category.  And I hope that next year lots more people enter.  (You know, if their book is a YA romance.) 
Now, there's been some discussion about the rules change affecting people's submissions.  There's a great breakdown of the category change and some of the other changes here. I actually think that this year's revision made the category a little broader, but that's my perspective.  Yes, I realize that not every YA with kissing fits into that definition, but, well, it's the the YA with kissing award, it's YA romance.  Yes, I agree with Marni Bates's post that awards are important.  Honoring the great work people are doing is important.  There are other awards out there for YA, be it romance or not. 
But, I also understand that managing this contest is a huge undertaking for RWA.  They made bold changes last year, upping the total number of entries (since last year it filled up fast), adding eligibility for self-published books, they added a category, and smooshed some together. I would say there are bound to be bumps the first year, but it seems like the contest gets tweaked a little every year.  Now, what does this have to do with the YA category?  Well, the raising of the number of entries actually impacted the threshold for a category to remain this year.  So, if they received 2000 entries, they would need 100 of those to be YA books*.  And remember that's 100 YA romances, published in 2013, by a member of RWA. All of those things have to be true.  I think it's possible there are 100 of those.  But, given there were a record number of entries the first day, given you have to pay to enter, I can see how some people might not have gotten to it.  Yes, all those barriers (except possibly the number) were there before. 
So, here's what I hope.  I hope that more people submit their (eligible, actual YA romance) book next year so the category can return.  I hope all the YA Golden Heart Finalists get deals and submit those books. 
Yes, writing and reading great books is what matters most.  But, winning things is nice too.

*I tried to find a link to where it says that specifically, and I can't, but that is my understanding.