2023 STAR Award for Published Women’s Fiction

Registration for the Star Award is closed

Congratulations to our winners!

General Winner

The Memory Keeper of Kyiv by Erin Litteken


Outstanding Debut Winner

Truth and Other Lies by Maggie Smith

General First-Round Finalists

Red Thread of Fate by Lyn Liao Butler

These Numbered Days by Anna Collins


Debut First-Round Finalists

Still True by Maggie Ginsberg

Visible Signs by Grace Marcus

General Information
Important Dates
Submission Details
Entry Fee

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

NEW FOR 2023: The STAR Award just grew brighter!

In addition to the traditional STAR Award trophy and recognition by WFWA, the winner of each category will receive a $300 prize.

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 women's fiction and the author’s first ever 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 14, 2023 (9:00 am EST) for WFWA members; January 23, 2022 (9:00 am EST) for non-WFWA members, space permitting.

Entry Closes: February 6, 2023, midnight, EST.

Deadline for Entered Books to be Received by the Award Coordinator:  February 6, 2023 *Note: first round judging is electronic*

Preliminary Judge’s Scores in: April 30, 2023

Finalists Announced: May 7, 2023

Deadline for Finalists' Books to be Received by the Award Coordinator:  May 19, 2023

Final scores due: August 20, 2023

Winners Announced: September 22, 2023, at the Chigaco 10th Anniversary Conference.

Submission Details

Preliminary Round: Submission has two parts. First, complete the registration form and pay the registration fee. Your confirmation email will direct you to our submission portal, where you will complete the second step. A complete submission will include either: An uploaded .epub file of your novel OR three (3) unredeemed Amazon Kindle gift links. Kindle gift links will be provided to the judges in order for them to download a copy of your submission.

Final Round: Mail four (4) copies of the professionally printed book to the STAR Award Contest Coordinator. Finalists' books must be received by the coordinator by May 19, 2023.

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

$45 WFWA Members

$60 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). Books must be written in English but do not need to follow standard American English spelling and grammar rules. All work must have an ISBN and copyright page with an original copyright date in the calendar year 2022. 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, including memoir and non-fiction. Novellas and short stories collections count as being published.


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

Women's fiction is defined as a story where the emotional journey of the protagonist is the driving force of the story. The protagonist’s journey must lead to a more fulfilled self.

Women’s fiction is a flexible genre in that it may include romance, or it may not. It could be contemporary or historical and have magical, mystery, thriller, suspense, or other elements.

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.

PLEASE NOTE: A book can have a protagonist of any gender, he, she, or they. It's the genre, not the gender that matters. 


The STAR Award accepts published .epub 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 and through WFWA social media.

Winners are announced at the Chicago 10th Anniversary Conference. WFWA will also issue press releases to the industry with winners featured and announced through WFWA social media.

What is the prize for winning?
The winner of each category will receive a $300 Prize and a STAR Award trophy along with a feature in a future issue of WFWA’s WriteOn! Magazine with a 2000+ person circulation. All Finalists will receive a certificate. Winners and finalists will also receive a digital badge for their website.
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].