The 2015 contest has closed. The 2016 contest will open for entries on April 1, 2016.


The Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, sponsored by RWA chapter Southern Magic, was conceived in honor of multi-RITA Winner Gayle Wilson to award excellence in published romance fiction. The contest is judged by avid readers of romance, booksellers, and/or librarians. The winners of each category are awarded a custom-made golden lapel pin. Winners will also be included in a full-page RWR advertisement.


Entries must be received by January 15, 2015. Novels and novellas must have a copyright or first printing date of 2014, no matter the format. Traditional and self-published books are eligible to enter as long as the original publication year is 2014. Limit of two entries per author. Entries may be entered in electronic format (PDF or Kindle) only if they have not been released in print format. If you have any questions about eligibility, please contact the contest coordinator.


All entries are judged by avid readers of romance, booksellers, and/or librarians. The top two scores are added to form the final score. The lowest score is dropped. Ties are broken using the dropped low score. After the dropped low score is used, if there is still a tie for first place, authors will be asked to send two additional copies of the book to break the tie. Failure of the author to supply these copies in a timely manner will result in forfeiture of the win.

Books are given to the judges as a "thank you" for judging. They are not returned. Scores and finalist placement are not revealed. Score sheets are not returned. The decision of the judges is final.


Entry fee: $30 first book; $25 second book.

Once entry forms are received, an "Entry Confirmation" will be sent. This confirmation will include detailed contest information, including where to send your novels. Author must provide three copies of the entered book, which will not be returned. OPTIONAL: If you'd like to avoid the cost of shipping your books to our contest, we have an arrangement with Author, Author! Books. You can order your in-print books at a deep-discounted price with no shipping costs for entry into our contest. To learn more, contact Laura Hayden at Please note that your use of the services of Author, Author! is optional and will have no effect on the outcome of the contest.

Finalists will be notified in March 2015. All finalists receive a certificate. Winners receive a commemorative lapel pin (perfect for attaching to conference badges) and inclusion in a full-page RWR ad. Authors may enter two novels; however, the same novel may not be entered in multiple categories. If a category does not receive at least 5 entries, the category will be canceled, and the entrants' books and entry fees will be returned.

Categories for entry (we define "series" as numbered monthly-released category romance):
Contemporary Single Title
Contemporary Series
Romantic Suspense Single Title
Romantic Suspense Series
Inspirational Single Title
Inspirational Series
Paranormal/Fantasy/Science Fiction
New Adult
Novella (20,000 - 40,000 Words)


PLEASE NOTE: We would prefer this entry form sent electronically, when possible, although an address is provided below for any entry forms sent via USPS. The address for books will be sent later in an "Entry Confirmation" email.

Make checks payable to Southern Magic, or send entry fee by PayPal. When sending by PayPal, send funds to Please type the category of your entry in the comment section of PayPal.

Send electronic entry forms (preferred method) to:
Heather Cover at


Send paper entry forms (NO BOOKS) and checks to:
Heather Cover
Southern Magic Contest Coordinator
Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence
1721 Oxmoor Road
Homewood, AL 35209



Heather Cover
Gayle Wilson Contest Coordinator

Previous Winners

2005   2006   2007   2008
2009   2010   2011   2012
2013   2014        

Copyright 2016 Southern Magic, Inc., RWA Chapter 178