Fresh from Romancing the Blog and the ongoing #rwachange hashtag conversation on Twitter, comes news of an RWA Hot Sheet circulating at the Nationals concerning changes to the eligibility rules for the Golden Heart and RITA Awards. At first the news sounded positive, as if RWA was willing to move closer to acknowledging the rights of eBook authors, but enough people have weighed in on the downside, that progress could be measured not in inches or centimeters, but at the subatomic level.
Take a look at the changes from the Hot Sheet quoted below:
1. CONTESTS: WHAT’S CHANGING
Rules for the Golden Heart and RITA contests will be removed from the Policy and Procedures Manual, approved annually by the Board of Directors at the Board meeting preceding the RWA annual conference, and published in their entirety in the RWR and online to eliminate the possibility of discrepancies between policy and the published rules.
· Anyone who has accepted a publishing offer for a work of original fictional narrative prose of 20,000 words or more in any genre by November 16, 2009, is not eligible to enter the 2010 Golden Heart Contest.
· Entrants must retain all rights to the entry and must not have granted any of them to a publisher or any other party prior to or by November 16, 2009.
· The definition of a novel for the purposes of the Golden Heart Contest is “a work of fictional narrative prose in the romance genre of at least 40,000 words, as determined by computer word count.” Entries with word counts less than 40,000 will be disqualified.
· Beginning with the 2010 RITA Contest year, books published by any non-Vanity/non-Subsidy publisher may be entered in the RITA.
· Books published by RWA-Eligible publishers may be entered in the RITA Contest beginning September 21, 2009.
· Books published by any non-Vanity/non-Subsidy publisher may be entered in the RITA Contest beginning October 12, 2009.
· Any publisher applying to be an RWA-Eligible publisher or an RWA non-Vanity/non-Subsidy publisher for the purposes of the RITA Contest must be approved by September 15, 2009, for its books to qualify for the upcoming contest.
· Beginning with the 2010 RITA Contest, entries must have an original copyright date of the year preceding the contest year. However, during the 2010 transitional contest year only, those books with BOTH a 2008 original copyright date AND a 2009 North American printing date OR a 2009 first printing date may be entered so that members who had waited to enter in this contest year are not penalized by the change in policy.
· All entries must be submitted in print book format, produced by the publisher, complete with copyright page, with perfect or case binding and printing on both sides of the page. Text and formatting must be identical to the published version. This includes those books commercially available in electronic format only.
Some of the problems with the new version of the rules:
- An unfortunate loophole still disqualifies a number of eBook authors from entering the Golden Hearts. If a writer has been published under contract for any work longer than 20,000 words, they can’t enter. So a limbo remains for eBook-only authors whose ePublished works are between 20K and 40K words.
- As has been suggested in numerous posts across the web, the new rules for the RITA Awards present problems for ePublishers and authors due to A) a lack of leftover spaces for books once the traditional pubs have submitted their books, B) the length of time it may take to have an ePublisher “approved” could well overshoot the September 15, 2009 deadline for the 2010 awards, C) a question remains whether the $1 advance against royalties clause remains in effect which negates any of the changes above anyway, since ePubs don’t pay advances, and D) authors, ePublished or not, still have to provide six perfect-bound copies of their books for judging.
In the end, it’s debatable if the changes result in any significant progress for eBook authors and publishers, but at least the dialogue between the two camps is still open.