General Guidelines
Welcome to Winning Writers, established in 2001. We are one of the "101 Best Websites for Writers" (Writer's Digest, 2015-2018).

Writers of all ages and nations may enter. The works you submit should be in English. You may submit simultaneously to our contests and to other contests. Please do not submit work that has previously received recognition at Winning Writers.

Your privacy is assured. We will not rent your information to third parties.

Submit self-published books in the following categories, up to 200,000 words in length:

  • Mainstream/Literary Fiction
  • Genre Fiction
  • Creative Nonfiction & Memoir
  • Poetry
  • Children's Picture Book
  • Graphic Narrative (novels, memoirs, story collections, etc.)


  • One grand prize winner will receive $3,000, a marketing analysis and one-hour phone consultation with Carolyn Howard-Johnson, a $300 credit at BookBaby, and 3 free ads in the Winning Writers newsletter (a $450 value)
  • The top winner in each category will receive $1,000, a marketing analysis and one-hour phone consultation with Carolyn Howard-Johnson, a $300 credit at BookBaby, and one free ad in the Winning Writers newsletter (a $150 value)
  • One honorable mention in each category will receive $250
  • We will publish online excerpts from all entries that win a prize, along with critiques from the judges

Judges: Jendi Reiter and Ellen LaFleche, assisted by Jim DuBois and Annie Keithline.

All contestants will receive a copy of The Great First Impression Book Proposal by Carolyn Howard-Johnson (PDF), and free guides to successful publishing from BookBaby.

Any year of publication is acceptable. You may submit a collection of short stories or essays as a single entry. You may submit multiple books (one at a time). For multi-author books, please email Winning Writers to determine eligibility. All themes are welcome except works portraying pedophilia, bestiality, necrophilia, and/or snuff as acceptable sexual practices.

For the purpose of this contest, a self-published book is one where the decision to publish the book was the author's alone, the transaction involved the author paying any upfront costs for services, and the book is currently available for viewing and/or purchase. This includes books created through e-publishers (e.g. BookBaby, Smashwords, CreateSpace), book printers, and vanity presses. If you published your book with a hybrid publisher, it may still qualify for the North Street Book Prize. The key criteria are that the author controls the decision whether to publish and also shoulders most of the costs of publication. Hybrid authors, please email Winning Writers to confirm eligibility.

Submit poems on any theme, up to 250 lines each. We will award the Tom Howard Prize of $2,000 for a poem in any style or genre, and the Margaret Reid Prize of $2,000 for a poem that rhymes or has a traditional style. Ten Honorable Mentions will receive $100 each (any style). The top 12 entries will be published online. Judge: Soma Mei Sheng Frazier, assisted by Jim DuBois. This contest is proudly co-sponsored by Duotrope, which will award two-year gift certificates to the top two winners, a $100 value.

You may submit published or unpublished work. This contest accepts multiple entries (submit them one at a time). Please omit your name from your entries. We prefer 12-point type or larger. Please avoid fancy, hard-to-read fonts.

For the purpose of the Margaret Reid Prize, a poem in a traditional style employs regular meter and/or rhyme, or is written in a recognized poetic form. This includes traditional Western forms such as ballads, sonnets, and blank verse, Asian forms such as tanka and haiku, and other traditional forms.

Winning Writers