The 2020 Athena Contest is now closed for entries. Finalists will be announced in June.

The 2020 Athena Contest
for Excellence in Published Young Adult & New Adult Fiction


  • This contest is open to any YA or NA romance novel with romantic elements published with a 2019 copyright in any publishing venue, including digital first, digital only, self-published, print-on-demand or small press publisher. The first publication date must fall between the dates of January 1, 2019 and December 31, 2019.
  • The novel must be written in English.
  • All entries must have a minimum length of 40,000 words.
  • Membership in RWA and/or YARWA is NOT a requirement for entry.
  • There is a limit of three entries per author.
  • Each book may be entered into only one category.
  • Entry Forms must be submitted online. They must be received ELECTRONICALLY NO LATER than 11:59 PM EDT, March 1, 2020. You will receive an entry confirmation email.
  • Physical books must be POSTMARKED NO LATER than March 2, 2020 addressed to the coordinator as shown on the entry confirmation email. You will also receive confirmation when your books have been received.
  • Entrants may submit their novel in electronic format or hard copy. If submitting in hard copy:
    -Entrants will submit three (3) copies of a published novel with a copyright date of 2019.
    -Must be submitted in Hardcover, Mass-market paperback or Trade paperback format. Ebook only books that are being submitted in print format must be printed and bound in perfect bound, galley-printed book form.
  • If submitting an ebook:
    -You must submit one (1) pdf, with the understanding that it will be forwarded to up to 3 judges.
  • Novels (in any format) released for sale before January 01, 2019 are not eligible.

Note: Books will not be returned to entrants, but kept by judges as a token of appreciation.

  • Young Adult Contemporary – Any YA-aged characters set in contemporary times (should include contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and non-paranormal thriller).
  • New Adult Contemporary – Any novel featuring protagonists aged between 18 and 25 set in contemporary times (should include contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and non-paranormal thriller).
  • Young Adult or New Adult Paranormal – Any YA-aged characters who live in a world that includes elements of the paranormal or supernatural (will include supernatural contemporary and urban fantasy, and any dystopian containing paranormal elements).
  • Young Adult or New Adult Speculative – any YA or NA-aged characters who live in a world with science fiction elements, futuristic settings, non-paranormal dystopian, and fantasy settings.
  • Best First Book – Any Finalist whose entry is also their first novel will be automatically entered into the Best First Book category, for no additional fee.

The categories are capped as follows:
YA Contemporary – 40 entries
NA Contemporary – 40 entries
YA/NA Paranormal – 40 entries
YA/NA Speculative – 40 entries

A minimum of 7 entries are required for each category. If the minimum of 7 is not reached, entries will be reassigned to the secondary category as noted on the entry form, or refunded.

Each entry will have three judges; the lowest score will be dropped, and the highest two scores averaged. We ask that entrants judge at least a few entries in a different category.

  • All finalists will receive an Athena digital graphic, contest pin, & certificate. Winners will receive an Athena digital graphic, contest pin, & plaque.
  • All winners and finalists will be announced on the YARWA website. Winners will be announced at the Day of YA

$30 YARWA Members/$40 Non-Members Payment will be accepted only through PayPal. Entry is not complete until payment is made. The PayPal button will be available here on January 6, 2020.

  • January 6, 2020 – Contest opens – Entry form available online.
  • March 1, 2020 – Contest End date – All entry forms must be received by 11:59pm, EST.
  • March 2, 2020 – Pdf entries must be received by coordinator by 11:59pm on this date. Physical books must be postmarked by this date and received by March 9, 2019.
  • Finalists Announced no later than June 1, 2020.
  • Winners Announced at the Day of YA event in San Francisco, CA in July 2020.

Questions? Contact the Contest coordinator, Monica Jones at