The 2017 Athena Contest
for Excellence in Young Adult & New Adult Fiction


Sorry, registration for the Athena Contest is now closed. We hope to see you next year!

YARWA’s First Published Author Contest – Official Rules


  • This contest is open to any YA or NA novel or novella published with a 2016 copyright in any publishing venue, including digital first, digital only, self-published, print-on-demand or small press publisher. The first publication date must be in 2016.
  • All entries must have a minimum length of 40,000 words, except for those entered in the Novella category, which has a length between 20,000 and 40,000 words.
  • Membership in RWA and/or YARWA is NOT a requirement for entry.
  • There is a limit of two 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, 2017. You will receive an entry confirmation email.
  • Physical books must be POSTMARKED NO LATER than March 2, 2017, 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 five (5) copies of a published novel with a copyright date of 2016.
    Must be submitted in either 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 ebook:
    Must submit one (1) pdf, with the understanding that it will be forwarded to up to 5 judges.
    Novels (in any format) released for sale before 2016 are not eligible.
    Books will not be returned to entrants, but kept by judges as a token of appreciation.


  • Contemporary – any YA-aged characters set in contemporary times (should include romantic suspense, non-paranormal horror, contemporary romance, and non-paranormal thriller).
  • Historical – any YA-aged characters set in an era predating WWII.
  • 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).
  • Speculative – any YA-aged characters who live in a world with science fiction elements, futuristic settings, non-paranormal dystopian, and fantasy settings.
  • New Adult – any novel featuring protagonists aged between 18 and 25, of all heat levels and subgenres.
  • Novella – Encompasses any of the above listed categories with a word count between 20,000 words and 40,000 words.

NOTE: Eligible entries will also be entered into the Best First Book category, for no additional fee.

The categories are capped as follows:

  • Contemporary – 40 entries
  • Historical – 30 entries
  • Paranormal – 30 entries
  • Speculative – 30 entries
  • New Adult – 30 entries
  • Novella – 30 entries

NOTE: A minimum of 10 entries are required for each category. If the minimum of 10 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 one entry in a different category.
Final Round Judges will be Bloggers and Librarians.


  • Plaque, Contest Pin, Website graphic

Entry Fees

  • $30 YARWA Members/$40 Non-Members
  • Payment will be accepted only through PayPal. Entry is not complete until payment is made.


  • January 30, 2017 – Contest opens – entry form available online.
  • March 1, 2017 – Contest End date – All entry forms must be received by 11:59pm, EST
  • March 2, 2017 – 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, 2017.
  • Finalists Announced around May 15, 2017
  • Winners Announced at Day of YA, 2017

Questions? Contact us at