2021 STAR Award for Published Women’s Fiction

Registration is now closed.

Winners will be announced at the 2021 Women's Fiction Writers Association Awards Gala & Keynote

September 24, 2021
9pm ET/8pm CT/7pm MT/6pm PT
General Information
Important Dates
Submission Details
Entry Fee

The STAR Award is designed exclusively for the published women's fiction author. 

The STAR Award has two categories. 

  • A general category for all full-length published women's fiction, regardless of time period of the premise or additional plot element.*
  • The second category is ‘Outstanding Debut'.To be eligible, the entry must be the author’s debut published work in any genre.
A novel may be entered into ONE of the categories.

*Not sure if your novel is eligible? See below.

The STAR Award Contest is limited to the first 50 entries in each of the two categories. 

First round judging is by readers of women's fiction, the final round by librarians with an interest in women's fiction.

Entries with the top three scores in each category (General and Debut) will be declared finalists and advance to the final round.

Important Dates

Entry Opens: January 2, 2021 (9:00 am EST) for WFWA members; January 16, 2021 (9:00 am EST) for non-WFWA members, space permitting.

Entry Closes: January 30, 2021, midnight, EST.

Deadline for Entered Books to be Received by the Award Coordinator:  January 31, 2021 *Note: first round judging is electronic*

Preliminary Judge’s Scores in: April 30, 2021

Finalists Announced: May 8, 2021

Deadline for Finalists' Books to be Received by the Award Coordinator:  May 15, 2021

Final scores due: August 21, 2021

Winners Announced: September 22-25, 2021 at the Albuquerque Annual WFWA Retreat

Submission Details

Preliminary Round: Complete the entry form, pay registration fee, and either: Upload the file in .mobi format (ONLY) when you register, OR email three (3) digital copies of the book as an Amazon Kindle gift to the STAR Award Coordinator at [email protected]. These will be forwarded to the judges.

Final Round: Mail three (3) copies of the professionally printed book to the STAR Award Contest Coordinator. Finalists' books must be received by the coordinator by May 15, 2021.

Entries will be disqualified and fees forfeited if not received by the award coordinator by the specified deadlines.

Scoring Criteria for Judges: Scoring Guidelines can be viewed here.

Entry Fee

$40 WFWA Members

$50 non-WFWA Members

Paid electronically only – no mailed checks.





Frequently Asked Questions


Open to all authors of book-length women's fiction (60k words or more). All work must have an ISBN and have a copyright page with an original copyright date in the calendar year 2020. If an entry doesn’t meet these requirements, it will be disqualified and entry fees forfeited. No novellas or short story collections are accepted.

My book is available online as an eBook only. May I enter?
Yes. But for the final round, all entries must be submitted as printed books.

I’ve self-published my book. Can I still enter?
Yes. Providing it has an ISBN and is available at retailers, either physical stores or online.

I’m published in another genre, but this is my first work of women's fiction. Can I enter as a debut author?
No. The novel entered in this category must be a true debut – your first published in any genre. Novellas and short stories collections count as being published.


How do I determine if my novel is Women's Fiction?

Women's fiction may include romance, or it may not. It could be contemporary or historical and have magical, mystery, thriller, or other elements. What defines a novel as women's fiction is that the driving force is the protagonist's journey toward a more fulfilled self. The driving force of a romance novel is a love story, a mystery's is the exposure of an event, a thriller's is a fear-inducing chase or escape, etc.

If your manuscript's driving force best fits another genre, such as romance, science fiction, thriller, etc. it is not eligible for the STAR Award.


The STAR Award accepts published .mobi format entries only. If your novel is only available in e-book format, you must submit a physical book (Traditionally bound as a hardcover, trade or paperback. No unprofessionally printed manuscripts will be accepted.)

Frequently Asked Questions
Can I enter more than one of my novels?
No. One novel per entrant.
How many finalists are there?
There are three finalists in each of the two categories.
How will I be notified if I final or win?
The finalists will be notified via phone call or email, and the official finalist list will be posted on the WFWA website. Winners are announced at the Albuquerque Annual Retreat. WFWA will also issue press releases to the industry with the results of each round.
What is the prize for winning?
The winner of each category will receive a STAR Award trophy. All Finalists will receive a certificate. Winners and finalists will also receive a digital badge for their websiteThere may be additional prizes, at the discretion of the Board.
What if my novel is disqualified due to not meeting the definition of Women's Fiction?
If your novel is disqualified on the grounds of not fitting the women's fiction definition, you may choose to submit an appeal. The appeal process includes a questionnaire for the author, committee review, and a final decision made by the Board of Directors. Disqualification will result in forfeiture of the submission fee.

Additional Questions? Contact the STAR Award coordinator at [email protected].