Romance Writers of America has filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy, with the organization saying it is unable to cover the hotel costs for its annual conferences due to dwindling membership.

In court filings, the organization, which was founded in 1980 by the pioneering Black romance editor Vivian Stephens, estimated that it owes about $3 million to hotels that have hosted its flagship conference, as well as roughly $74,500 in cash to other creditors. In 2018, the organization signed a long-term contract with Marriott hotels across the country for its yearly conferences, but as its membership began to wane, it was unable to renegotiate the contracts in response to decreased attendance.

Since 2019, RWA membership has plummeted as the organization has been rocked by controversy over issues of racism and diversity, beginning with the suspension of the chair of a past RWA ethics committee for characterizing the work of another member as "racist." Following an outpouring of criticism, in early 2020 RWA leadership resigned, its annual RITA Awards were retired and rebranded, and a number of book publishers, including imprints at all of the Big Five publishing houses, pulled support from the organization and its annual conference. According to court records, prior to 2019 RWA had 10,000 members; that number has since dropped to about 2,000.

Currently, the Anaheim Marriott, which hosted last year's RWA conference, is seeking more than $700,000 from the organization because it sold fewer rooms than RWA had reserved. RWA expects to lose money on its this year's conference in Austin as well, and it also faces a $1 million contract termination from the Philadelphia Marriott, which had been slated to host next year's conference.