What is an Emma Award?

Named after Emma Rodgers, the co-founder of the Romance Slam Jam annual book lovers event, the Emma Awards are the premier awards for black authors of romance.  The award ceremony takes place annually during the RSJ Convention and honors the great works of the authors we love.  Tickets for the ceremony are included with the full RSJ Convention cost. Individual tickets may also be bought for the ceremony separately.

The impetus to create the Emma Awards sprang from remarks by the RSJ 2000 guest speaker, well-known historical romance author Beverly Jenkins. The following year in 2001, we held the first Emma Awards ceremony. Fittingly, Ms. Emma Rodgers presented the first award. That first Emma went to Deirdre Savoy for Favorite New Author.

As always, we need your assistance in choosing who the next Emma Award honorees will be. This year as you are reading, if a particular heroine really grabs you, take note. Perhaps you’d like to nominate the heroine (and novel) for the Favorite Heroine category. Same goes for the other categories. Read for pleasure, but don’t forget to make your opinion count. We suggest creating a “Read List” where you list your reads for the year and jot down a few notes for each novel.

2017 Winners Announced – View Winners Now

Your Support Helps Keep the Emma Awards Alive!

RSJ annually opens up the Emma Awards for both authors and readers to nominate a deserving author at no entry fee.  To make sure the Emma Awards continue to support talented African-American authors without need for an entry fee, please DONATE and SUPPORT the RSJ Emma Awards today:  CLICK HERE TO DONATE

2018 ENTRY REQUIREMENTS ~ Coming Soon!



2017 EMMA Award Entry Requirements

The Emma Awards are open to all black and African American authors who have written a novel or novella which falls within the identified award categories (see below) and was published for the first time between November 1, 2015 and December 31, 2016. To meet the first publication requirement, a work cannot be a re-publication, re-covered, and/or re-named novel or novella; nor may the work have been entered in any previous Emma Award year.

Nominations may be submitted by authors, readers, editors, agents, and publishing industry professionals. Nominations by individuals who have attended any Romance Slam Jam event in the past six years (RSJ 2011 in Baltimore, MD through RSJ 2016 in Detroit, MI) will be given double weight in the finalists’ calculation tally.

A book nominated for a 2017 Emma Award must:

  • Be written by a black or African American author who is at least eighteen years of age by the nomination deadline and feature at least one protagonist (hero or heroine) who is black or African American.
  • Be an original romance novel or novella with a central love story (or an original commercial fiction novel with elements of romance) and have a resolution of the conflict that is emotionally satisfying, optimistic and/or a “happy ever after” ending.
  • The book being nominated must have a copyright date or an original publication date between November 1, 2015 and December 31, 2016 and be an English language edition. If the novel is part of a sequel or series, the book/installment nominated must meet the publication release date identified above.
  • Be submitted in e-book format, complete with copyright page and authorized by the publisher. For self-published books, the author will be known as the publisher. Authors must provide five copies of their nominated work in a format readable on a Kindle (either via a mobi or pdf file, by gifting Kindle editions, or by donating the cost to purchase the requisite copies). Finalists’ books must be received by the deadline set in the Finalist Notice or the entry will be disqualified.

Any book that does not meet the eligibility requirements for authorship, publication date, and/or category will be disqualified.

Categories with fewer than 3 finalists will not be judged.


Judges must:

  • have a passion for romance featuring black and African American protagonists;
  • be knowledgeable of the formula for romance literature;
  • be fair and objective in evaluating, judging, and reading finalist books;
  • be knowledgeable of the genres and subgenres they are judging;
  • be willing to read e-book versions of their assigned books or acquire their own print editions.

Judges will randomly be given submissions. The names of judges for the various award categories will not be made public to ensure the integrity and credibility of the award process. The criteria for judging each category will be distributed to the applicable selected judges. Judges may not judge any category in which the work of a family member is a finalist and must complete a qualifying form (to be made available soon). The potential judges will be notified if they are approved and will be sent the category that they will be judging, with the appropriate form for scoring, upon commencement of the judging period.

Nominated authors are eligible to serve as contest judges, but they cannot judge any category in which one of their works is a finalist.

Emma Award

Romance Book Award for Black Romance