FAQ – 2020 Pages From The Heart Contest

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Why should I enter the Pages from the Heart Contest?

We highly encourage first round judges to provide feedback for every entry. The outstanding editors and agents who judge the final round can often request full or partial manuscripts for further consideration.

When do I submit my entry?

The contest is open for entries from August 1 – 31, 2020.

What should I enter?

The first 5,000 words of your original, unpublished, and uncontracted novel-length (or projected novel-length) manuscript will be submitted electronically as an attachment to an email.

Can I enter a published manuscript?

No. All entries must be unpublished and not be contracted to be published as of August 30, 2020.

I’m self-published. Can I still enter?

You may enter any genre that you have not been published in, or that you have not been contracted in within the last 3 years.

Can I include a Prologue with my entry?

Yes, but the prologue will be included in your total word count, which cannot exceed 5,000 words. The prologue will be judged as part of the entry.

Do I need to include a Synopsis with my entry?

No. Pages from the Heart does not require a synopsis, and if you send one, the synopsis will be discarded before the entry is sent to your judges, whether or not it is part of your 5,000 word submission.

Can I see a copy of the First Round Scoresheet and Judging Guidelines?

Certainly! Just go to the Pages From The Heart landing page on the website and the current spreadsheets are available for download.

How will I know my entry arrived on time?

Please allow 24-hours for contest officials to email you to confirm receipt of your entry and payment through PayPal. If you do not hear from contest officials after 24-hours, contact: PFTHContest@fthrw.com.

Please Note: If you use an electronic check through PayPal, entry status is not final until the check clears, which may take several days.

Must I be a member of RWA in order to enter the Pages from the Heart Contest?

No. The contest is open to all writers.

Can I enter more than one manuscript?

Yes. More than one manuscript can be entered in the same category or in different categories.

Can I enter the same manuscript in more than one category?

No. Each manuscript can only be entered once. There is no limit to the number of entries you may submit, but additional entries must be from different manuscripts.

What is the cost to enter the Pages from the Heart Contest?

Entry fee should be paid in US funds:
• $26 for first entry
• $21 FTHRW members
• $16 for subsequent entries

Must I pay for my entry fee through PayPal?

Yes. Pages from the Heart Contest only accepts entry fees through PayPal. After you fill out your entry form and press the “Submit” button, your browser will take you to PayPal.com. If it does not, contact: PFTHContest@fthrw.com.

Can I pay my entry fee by check?

All contestants must use PayPal to pay their entry fees. You may pay by electronic check through PayPal once you have a PayPal account, but it takes several days for your check to clear.

Do I have to paste the Cover Sheet at the beginning of my entry?

No. When sending your entry, the cover sheet should be sent as a separated attachment, but in the same email.

The Cover Sheet is designed to provide judges with a great deal of information about your entry that will help them to critique/comment in the most objective manner possible. For example, if you use British/Australian/Canadian English punctuation and spelling rules, but you have not checked off that information, a judge may subtract points for not using American punctuation and spelling. Additionally, if a judge does not usually read, or dislikes, a certain genre, she/he might not understand the literary tropes expected of that genre crossover.

If we are aware that the entry fits into more than one genre, we can reassign the entry to judges who are more familiar with the expectations of those genres.

Please rate the heat level based on the entire manuscript, not just the entry. If your entry finals, the cover sheet will be sent to the final judge in addition to the entry. The heat level may be a part of their consideration for making a request.

Download the cover sheet on the Pages From The Heart main page.

What are the formatting rules I must follow?

  • Entry is a .doc file, has a cover sheet, and is 5,000 words or less (the cover sheet does not count toward total word count.)
    • Entry has one-inch margins, is double spaced, has first line of paragraphs indented, and has no more than 25 lines per page
    • Font is either Times New Roman 12 or 14 or Courier 12
    • Header: Title / Category / page number
    • Author’s name does NOT appear anywhere on the manuscript and personal information is cleared from the file.

Division/Category may be abbreviated as:

ShortC for Short Contemporary
LongC for Long Contemporary
Hist for Historical
Para for Paranormal/Fantasy/Futuristic/Time Travel
Susp for Romantic Suspense/Mystery
YA for Young Adult

What happens if I don’t follow the formatting rules?

Your entry might be disqualified and your entry fee might be forfeited.

Can I send a .rtf file?

No. We’ve found that in some of our judges’ Word programs, .rtf files lose the headers. Please send a .doc or .docx file.

How do I remove the identifying information from my entry?

If you save the document in Word 97-2003 format, you have the option at File | Options | Trust Center | Trust Center Settings | Privacy Options to “Remove personal information from file properties on save.” Save, giving the file a different name.

If you save in Word 2010/2013 or Office 365 format, then you have to use File | Info | Prepare for Sharing: Check for Issues | Inspect Document: Document Properties and Personal Information | Remove All. Save, giving the file a different name.

If you use Word for Mac:

In Word for Mac 2016:
1. Click on the word Tools from the Menu Bar 2. Choose Protect Document at the bottom of the pane.
3. Under privacy, check the box to remove personal information from this doc on save.

In Word For Mac 2011:
• Open a Microsoft Word 2011 (Mac) document.
• Click on the word “Word” within the Menu bar.
• Choose the Preferences option.
• The Word Preferences dialog will open.
• Click on the Security icon, located in the Privacy Options section.
• The Security window will open.
• Enable the Remove personal information from this file on save field.
• Click on the OK button.
• Save the document.

If you do not understand these directions, please notify your Category Coordinator. The file will be saved into another file by contest personnel to remove your identifying information before distributing to judges or returning the judged entry to the author.

How do I make sure the title of my entry, category, and page number appear at the top of each page?

In the header, we ask that you type the manuscript title, and category, and the page number in the header in the following format:

Title / First Choice Category / Page number
ex: Ex. Fifty Shades of Lust / ShortC / 1

Hint: Insert the page number first, then type the rest to the left of it.

Division/Category may be abbreviated as:

ShortC for Short Contemporary
LongC for Long Contemporary
Hist for Historical
Para for Paranormal/Fantasy/Futuristic/Time Travel
Susp for Romantic Suspense/Mystery
YA for Young Adult
For information about how to set up headers including page numbers, search Microsoft Support – be sure to include your version of Word (97, 2003, 2007, 2010, 2013, 365, or Online) or Word for Mac in the search:

How do I submit my entry via email? What do I send?

  • Fill out and submit the online entry form.
    • Pay via PayPal and jot down the Transaction ID.
    • Format your manuscript entry according to the contest rules and save the file in .doc format using the following naming convention:
    example: ShortC_FiftyShadesofLust.doc
    • Create an email. In the subject line, type:
    PFTH Contest Entry – Title / Category
    example: PFTH Contest Entry – Fifty Shades of Lust / ShortC
  • Attach the .doc file

Fill out the cover sheet, save as a .doc with “cover sheet” as its title. Attach the .doc cover form to your entry email.

Send the email to the correct email address for your category:


How do I thank my judges for their feedback?

All of our judges are volunteers and would love to hear from you! Please send any comments to your Category Coordinator at the email address she/he has provided to you. She/he will forward them appropriately.

To thank first round judges, in Subject line of the email, type THANK YOU JUDGE # Be sure to include your complete entry title on all correspondence. It is up to you whether you sign your name to the thank you note.

Second round thank you notes should follow a similar protocol, but use the judge’s name in the subject line instead of the judge number. It is recommended that you use your name on these emails, but again, it is not necessary.

What can I do if I disagree with the comments my judge(s) made?

The critiques/comments from the judges are their own opinions and are intended to help authors improve their skills by pinpointing possible problem areas and/or highlighting strengths. Please keep in mind that there is no way of preventing judges’ opinions from being at least partially subjective. Only you as the author can decide whether or not their suggestions will improve your work. However, if you feel a judge has been overly harsh or critical, or if you feel a judge did not have the skills to do the job, we want to know about it. Send us an email to: PFTHContest@fthrw.com

How do I become a judge?

Fill out the Judge Application Form (please make sure you press “submit”), it is located on the Pages From The Heart landing page.

Still have a question?

Send it to us at:PFTHContest@fthrw.com. We want you to have a great experience and we will do our best to clarify the rules or answer your question.