General Guidelines
Welcome to Winning Writers, established in 2001. Our contests are recommended by Reedsy.

Writers of all ages 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 an entry to a contest if it has previously received recognition at Winning Writers. For critiques, please do not submit a work that is under active consideration in one of our contests.

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

Winning Writers has engaged Tracy Koretsky, Lauren Singer, and Annie Mydla to provide expert private critiques of your poems, stories, and essays.

  • Tracy Koretsky's work has been widely published in literary magazines and has earned more than 50 prizes, including nominations for four Pushcarts and three Best of the Net. She has two books available, Ropeless, a novel about possibilities, and Even Before My Own Name, a memoir in poems.
  • Lauren Singer has years of experience judging entries for poetry, prose, and book contests for Winning Writers. Her poetry has been published in Nerve House, Bareback, Feel the Word, Read This, Kosmosis, One Night Stanzas, and other literary magazines across the US. In 2015 she received her MSW at the University of Chicago, is a graduate of Bard College at Simon's Rock, and an attendee of the New York State Summer Writer's Institute.
  • Annie Mydla has evaluated thousands of books as a judge of our North Street Book Prize, with categories including poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. Her work has been published in The Yearbook of Joseph Conrad StudiesAvant Literary Journal, and in Polish translation in Tajemni wspólnicy: czytelnik, widz i tłumacz (Secret Sharers: Reader, Viewer and Translator). She is a regular contributor to the official publication of the Joseph Conrad Society of America, Joseph Conrad Today.

Please submit 1-3 poems up to 250 lines long in total or one self-contained work of prose up to 6,000 words long. By "self-contained", we mean a work that forms a coherent whole, such as one story or one essay, and is not an excerpt of a longer work like a novel. If you need a critique of a novel or memoir, in whole or part, we suggest ordering a book and manuscript critique instead.

It is acceptable to leave identifying information in your document. We will keep your submission private, and we will provide your critique for your personal use (i.e. please don't publish our critique without our permission).

Our goal is not to judge your work or provide an overall assessment. Instead, we offer a supportive critical eye to writers mid-project who want advice on making their next draft better. We'll highlight one or two qualities to focus on in revisions, with suggested techniques, methods, or exercises for improving those qualities. We'll also include in-line comments with quick fixes and new options, and questions that will help you view your piece in a fresh light. Our comments will be straightforward and specific to you.

You can expect at least 500 words in the thematic portion of our response; the in-line comments depend upon the work submitted. We will welcome one round of follow-up questions and clarifications from you.

Please allow 3-5 weeks for us to complete your critique.

Price: $90. Your satisfaction is guaranteed. If our critique does not deliver value for you, you can request a prompt refund from adam@winningwriters.com.

Please do not submit work that is under active consideration in a Winning Writers contest. Work submitted to past contests is acceptable after the results have been announced, and you may submit a work to one of our contests after it has been critiqued. If one of our judges encounters a contest entry that they feel they cannot judge without a perception of bias, they will recuse themselves from that entry.

Winning Writers has engaged contest judge and literary scholar Annie Mydla to provide expert private critiques of your books and manuscripts, published or unpublished, that have up to 200,000 words. (For critiques of short works under 6,000 words, please click here.) Annie has read thousands of self-published books in her work as assistant judge for our North Street Book Prize. She is also a published literary scholar whose works can be found in Avant Literary Journal, Joseph Conrad Today, and most recently in the international journal Świat i Słowo ("World and Word").

"Reading for the North Street Book Prize has taught me how to view books from a bird's-eye perspective, and to help authors do the same. In my critique, I'll examine how the specific details of your work interact with the wider picture, and respectfully suggest concrete paths for reworking and new development." You can view a sample critique by Annie here. You can also read Annie's insights about what makes a prizewinning book in her guest blog post for the Alliance of Independent Authors.

Please submit a digital copy of your work. You may upload it as two files if your book and cover are separate files. It is acceptable to leave identifying information on your documents. We will keep your submission private, and we will provide your critique for your personal use (i.e. please don't publish our critique without our permission).

You can expect your critique to be 1,500-3,000 words long. It will include the following sections as relevant:

  1. Critique summary
  2. Technical execution (layout, spelling and grammar, technical consistency, technical quality of any illustrations, font, accessibility)
  3. Structure and content (character, plot, theme, setting, internal consistency, structure, pacing)
  4. Use of language (register, tone, tonal consistency, literary devices, artistic style, imagery, sense of mastery, relation to themes)
  5. Recommendations and conclusion
  6. Exercises to unlock creativity

You may also submit up to 3 specific questions to be answered by Annie within her critique.

We seek to provide perspectives that will provoke new ideas and directions for future drafts. Please allow 4-6 weeks for your critique to be completed. After delivery, we will welcome one round of follow-up questions from you.

Price: $180. Your satisfaction is guaranteed. If our critique does not deliver value for you, you can request a prompt refund from adam@winningwriters.com

Please do not submit work that is under active consideration in a Winning Writers contest. Work submitted to past contests is acceptable after the results have been announced, and you may submit a work to one of our contests after it has been critiqued. Works critiqued by Annie and submitted to a subsequent North Street Book Prize will be routed to a different judge.

Submit stories and essays on any theme, up to 6,000 words each. The winning story and essay will each receive $3,000. Ten Honorable Mentions will receive $200 each. The top 12 entries will be published online. Mina Manchester is our judge. This contest is proudly co-sponsored by Duotrope, which will award two-year gift certificates to the top two winners, a $100 value.

For this contest, a story is any short work of fiction, and an essay is any short work of nonfiction. 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. Double-spacing is recommended.

No restriction on age of author. All countries eligible except Syria, Iran, North Korea, and Crimea (due to US government restrictions).

Winning Writers