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judge and literary scholar Annie Mydla to provide expert private critiques of your books and manuscripts, published or unpublished, that have up to 200,000 words.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"). Annie is assisted by Paweł Zagawa.
"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:
- Critique summary
- Technical execution (layout, spelling and grammar, technical consistency, technical quality of any illustrations, font, accessibility)
- Structure and content (character, plot, theme, setting, internal consistency, structure, pacing)
- Use of language (register, tone, tonal consistency, literary devices, artistic style, imagery, sense of mastery, relation to themes)
- Recommendations and conclusion
- 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 six 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 email@example.com
"I can't recommend this service enough. Annie's understanding of literature is truly impressive, and I was amazed at how much time and thoughtfulness she invested in my project. She took the trouble to understand who I am, why I want to write this book, and what kinds of skills and deficits I bring. And then she tailored her feedback and advice accordingly... I feel not only read but seen, not only helped but inspired. I highly recommend 'upgrading' to include a Zoom call with Annie...it meant that the ten-page final critique Annie delivered not only addressed exactly the questions I wanted answered, but also built in very helpful ways on what was already a very substantive conversation." -Sigrid Schmalzer
"Annie's review was a big help to me in identifying strengths and potential improvements in my manuscript. She provided much assistance and many references for my next steps. Her input was constructive and encouraging. I highly recommend her services to any new or struggling writer." -Jerri Derlikowski
"I want to thank you, very much, for your critique of my first attempt at novel writing. Having no idea what I was doing, I entered the novel into a number of 'competitions' in an attempt to get feedback. Your critique is the first one that has been very helpful. (The others just gave a few vague suggestions - I often wondered if they actually read the book.) To be honest, I was at a point of putting the whole novel writing idea aside, even though I truly enjoy it. Your suggestions and included links are so helpful. I am planning to sit down with the story and go through it bit by bit, learn more about the entire writing experience, and encourage myself to open my mind to expanded ideas and thoughts." -Renee Rojas (purchased a discounted critique with their North Street Book Prize submission)
"I entered my book in a North Street e-book competition. I recently received my very helpful and thorough critique from Annie Mydia. This came weeks after another critique from another such competition so I have another to compare. Annie’s feedback was exemplary! She provided concrete examples of my work and the suggestions for improvement specific to my writing. In addition she provided links of further tutorials specific to her suggestions. Annie helped provide for me direction with map on how to take my writing next level. She also pointed out strengths with specific examples which always goes down like fine Champagne for a new writer. Shot Glass was a long book, 350 pp for a memoir. I felt she took it all in and honored the task she was given above and beyond. ( I have homework! :) )" -Irene Rochelle (purchased a discounted critique with their North Street Book Prize submission)
"This is to let you know how gratified I am over the notes, citations, links and suggestions that Annie Mydla provided me in critiquing my entry for the Winning Writers contest. Winning isn’t everything. Sometimes you win even as you lose. I appreciate the effort she demonstrated in providing criticisms and suggestions. It showed fairness and constructiveness, and it made the experience worthwhile for me." -Edward Alban (purchased a discounted critique with their North Street Book Prize submission)
"I recently entered the North Street contest, and although I didn’t advance, I did have a great critical email exchange with Annie. You don’t need me to tell you the offer to ask questions and converse with contest judges is pretty unusual. What a cool feature! Thanks for that. Annie had some great things to say about my novel, and I took advantage of her offer to ask a question or two. We ended up going back and forth a few times during which she was helpful, insightful, and (of course) super professional. As I told her, I’m taking some of the things she said to heart as I progress on my new book." -Michael Mullin (purchased a discounted critique with their North Street Book Prize submission)
"Just to let you know that I was very impressed with the critique and follow-up that I received from Annie Mydla. She offered some perspectives that had not occurred to me and that will prove helpful, I'm sure, in the future. It was very useful to be able to exchange a few follow-up emails, which brought into clearer focus the various changes that might well have made for a better, tighter book." -Paul Moser (purchased a discounted critique with their North Street Book Prize submission)
"I'm so grateful to Annie for her insightful and thorough feedback. She helped me see what I was too in the weeds to see and allowed me to begin a needed rewrite with a fresh perspective. She delivered exactly what was promised, and more!" -Melanie Hatter
"The biggest service from this review/critique is the boost to my confidence that being a novelist is possible and the takeaway that I have the basic writing skills that with practice and training will one day culminate into publishing. A priceless gift. Thank you for reassuring me that I have the tools to make the work better; such encouragement is vital to a fledging writer like me who is always plagued with self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy. You have done a stellar job on my MS and I look forward to engaging your services again in the near future." -Mary Gould
"I much appreciate your very thorough and thoughtful analysis. I was happy to read some of it, not so much other of it, but you delivered exactly what I was looking for: an objective and honest critique of what parts were good and what parts were not, what worked and what did not. It gave me an exceedingly useful perspective not only on this project, but on writing generally. I have no doubt that if I incorporate your comments I will have materially improved the quality of the manuscript. I believe that the value of your critique so far outweighed the cost, I feel kind of guilty." -Owen Katz
"The major change that was suggested in this excellent critique was that I divide the material into two books, and Annie even did this for me. She pointed out that my writing styles were very different in the short stories and the poems and personal essays, the latter being for an older audience. This resulted in my two books, This Is Life and Other Stories For Teens About the Middle East and Welcomed: Poems and Essays about Egypt and Gaza, Palestine being accepted for publication by a European publisher!" -Mandy Brauer
"Simply put, Annie Mydla is the most caring and helpful 'critiquer' and beta reader I've worked with in many, many years. Her intelligence, literary experience, and professionalism have been invaluable as I work through the drafts of my two latest novel manuscripts. She is both generous and direct, providing treasured insights and suggestions without imposing her own vision on mine. I can't recommend her highly enough." -Gregory Wilson Taylor
"I received your critique of The Psychic Garden, and it was amazing! Worth every penny. I spent five times the amount of money on a line-by-line editorial assessment for a short story collection a few years ago, yet your critique was infinitely more comprehensive and helpful. I will definitely be a returning customer for future works." -Damon Polmanteer
"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
"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