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engaged contest judge Annie Mydla to provide expert private critiques of your children's picture books, published or unpublished. Annie has read hundreds of self-published children's books in her work as assistant judge for our North Street Book Prize. Annie also provides critiques of books for adults in our Critiques for Books and Manuscripts service.

Says Annie, "A truly fine children's book successfully brings together an array of visual and textual elements. My experience reading for the North Street Book Prize allows me to appreciate both the broad view and the individual components, critiquing your book for maximal balance and appeal." You can 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 500-1,000 words long. It will include the following sections as relevant:

  1. Critique summary
  2. Technical execution (layout, spelling and grammar, technical consistency, font, accessibility)
  3. Structure and content (character, plot, theme, internal consistency, structure, pacing, intended audience)
  4. Use of images (technical quality, themes, style, consistency)
  5. Use of language (register, tone, imagery, relation to themes, rhyme and meter, as applicable)
  6. Recommendations and conclusion
  7. 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: $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. Works critiqued by Annie and submitted to a subsequent North Street Book Prize competition will be routed to a different judge.

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

  • 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 Studies, Avant 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. For critiques of children's picture books, 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.

Customers say:
"Oh, my goodness, have you made my day! Thank you so much for your insight into this memoir. You have brought forth so many inspiring comments about this that I shall be able to trudge on; I certainly had hit a writer's block as to how to make the memoir better. I am so pleased that Winning Writers offered this service! I thank you from the bottom of my heart." -Geraldine Birch
"Both your initial feedback and your follow-up feedback on my questions were sensational. I've done a lot of writing courses & feedback sessions etc. and the insight you've given has been genuinely great, so just wanted to say thank you again." -Jake Egan
"Wow! I just got finished reading through your critique. It is extremely helpful! I'm not sure what I was expecting, but you assuaged my largest fears, and gave me concrete suggestions on how I can fix the weak parts. I really, really appreciate the time and effort you put into my manuscript." -DK Coutant
"Thank you for the critique of my draft novel, it was exceedingly helpful..." -John Anderson
"Thank you so much for your critique of my book. I find all of your comments most helpful as I write my next book and as I continue to brainstorm ways to use the book to help others in situations similar to ours..." -Myrtle Russell
"So, wow. I was super concerned about dipping my toe into this, so much so I had my daughter read your critique first and piecemeal out the bad news. I am floored at how helpful this was. Your critique was so spot on that it was stunning... I'd love to do this with another of my manuscripts... I'm through with the exercises you recommend and am now starting to integrate them into the story and can already see the difference." -Judy Saunders
"Thank you SO MUCH for all of your insights and feedback. I appreciate all of the thought you put into your critique, and I am feeling a renewed enthusiasm for returning to this book after I give it your recommended breathing time. The exercises you provided were exactly the coaching I needed - INVALUABLE! This has been most helpful and I will definitely reach out to Winning Writers in the future for your services." -Claire Sheridan
"Annie is professional but doesn't let that stymie her enthusiasm for your work. She is thoughtful and thorough, produces pointers you can adhere to, while drawing your attention to areas you can improve on. You get the impression she appreciates the effort a writer has made to craft a story and does her best to help them improve their work. The quality of the critique is not diminished by its affordability. Just the opposite. You can spend a lot of money - and I have - on competitor's critiques. Despite the big price they don't necessarily give you the help you need." -Keith L., Nevada
"Annie Mydla's critique was exactly what I needed to jumpstart my manuscript. After months of little progress and feelings of self-doubt, Annie's concrete advice and words of encouragement breathed new life into my project. The critique was thorough (she actually read the whole thing!) and gave me specific actions and exercises to improve my language choices and the flow of my storyline. I was immediately excited to get to work—she had somehow achieved the tricky balance of giving real criticism without being discouraging. Great experience overall." -Ennis Begley
"Thank you so much for your in-depth critique; clearly I've got some work to do. Your suggestions for improvement were spot on and I appreciate the list of humor publishers you provided me for future reference. I've already started the re-write because of your excellent suggestions." -Robert Berger
"You have such a keen insight into what is going on in this story. I especially love the harsher side of the critique. You hit every weakness I have with this manuscript. I love the entire critique, it is honest, on point, and in my opinion it felt like it came from the heart. I was on the verge of throwing this piece out, and sticking to short stories only. I am now more motivated then ever to dust off this manuscript  and start filling in some of the blanks you pointed out. I will reread your critique, and start the exercises tonight. It means a great deal to me that I was blessed enough to get your unique, and powerful point of view. Thank you." -Kevin Irwin



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 $300 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, Crimea, Russia, and Belarus (due to US government restrictions).

First time entering? We prepared this brief video to guide you. See also our short entry checklist.

Fee per entry: $22.

Winning Writers