The North Street Book Prize Seeks Self Published Books

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Calling all self-published authors! The North Street Book Prize is open for entries from Feb 15 to June 30. In this article, contest judge Annie Mydla answers questions about book eligibility, the free gifts given to all entrants, prizes for winners, what North Street judges look for, and more.

The North Street Book Prize Seeks Self-Published Books, Annie Mydla, on The Table Read
Annie Mydla

Annie Mydla has been a judge for the North Street Book Prize since 2016, and has read over 5,000 self-published books for the contest. She also writes critiques of book manuscripts for the Winning Writers Critiques for Books and Manuscripts program.

What books are eligible for the North Street Book Prize?

The contest features seven genre categories: Mainstream/Literary Fiction, Genre Fiction, Creative Nonfiction & Memoir, Poetry, Children’s Picture Book, Graphic Novel & Memoir, and Art Book.

What are the prizes?

Winners receive cash, expert marketing advice, self-publishing credit with BookBaby, free publicity from Winning Writers, and feedback from the contest judges.

The Grand Prize across all seven categories is $8,000 USD, a marketing analysis and one-hour phone consultation with Carolyn Howard-Johnson, a $300 credit at BookBaby, and three free ads in the Winning Writers newsletter (a $525 value).

Seven First Place winners receive 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 $175 value). Seven Honorable Mentions receive $250.

Excerpts from all winning entries are published on alongside commentary from the judges about what made the books so successful.

What else do I get if I enter?

Every author who enters the contest also receives access to self-publishing resources, such as one month of free membership in The Self-Publishing Mastermind course at Self-Publishing Made Simple. Entrants also get three months’ free subscription to Book Award Pro, a service which connects authors with award opportunities tailored to their book.

The cost of entry includes educational PDFs like How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, The 7 Steps to Plan and Write Your Book, courtesy of Book Launchers, 8 Simple Secrets for Big Book Sales on Amazon, courtesy of C.S. Lakin at The Self Publisher, and free guides to successful publishing from BookBaby.

Q: How do you judge a book?

Entries to the North Street Book Prize go through several rounds of judging. In the first round, I look for very basic factors: main ideas and themes, spelling and grammar, and layout.

The North Street Book Prize Seeks Self-Published Books, Annie Mydla, on The Table Read

In the second round, I look more in-depth at writing style and technique, plotlines, character arcs, presentation of the time period and setting, internal consistency, and thematic connections to our world today.

The third round separates books that are excellent from those that are both excellent and also truly “North Street Books” – a list of forty to fifty titles. These Semi-Finalists go to the lead judges, Jendi Reiter and Ellen LaFleche, for their consideration and final decisions.

Q: Which kind of book is likely to win the North Street Book Prize?

We look for books that demonstrate mastery in every area of composition, from plotting, to character, to dialog, to theme, as well as image quality and composition in the book categories featuring images. We highly value books that excel in terms of craft and technique.

In terms of theme, we value books that give us perspectives on aspects of life beyond the mainstream. We treasure the experience of learning from characters, voices, or situations we’ve never seen before.

It’s not all about the characters and themes, however. The most important element is the quality of the writing. I’m always thrilled to come across a highly-polished piece with a distinctive style and a structure that complements the content.

And, because this is a prize for self-published books, we don’t just stop at the writing. We also carefully consider the formatting, layout, cover, and construction.

Q: What is one thing that you wish all contest entrants knew?

My top piece of advice for all entrants is that before entering any contest, it can be helpful to read past winners from past years. Reading past winners allows an author to know beforehand if their work fits in with the contest’s values.

If the author reads past winners and sees that their own work is totally different, it could save them the time and expense of entering the contest. Similarly, an author can draw inspiration from past winners and make sure that their entry is the strongest it can possibly be.

It’s especially helpful to read the judges’ comments on the winners, if available. We make all North Street past winners, together with judges’ comments, easy to find in our contest archives.

The North Street Book Prize Seeks Self-Published Books, Annie Mydla, on The Table Read

Q: Which genres do you want to see more of in the contest?

Right now, we’re actively searching for more entries to our newest categories: Children’s Picture Book, Graphic Novel & Memoir, and Art Book. Beyond that, we’re simply interested in unique and powerful writing in any of our genre categories!

Q: Why should I choose the North Street Book Prize for my self-published book?

The North Street Book Prize strives to be a high-value contest, not just for winners, but for all entrants.

Our entry fee is among the lowest in the industry, and the cost of entry includes access to valuable self-publishing resources. So even if your book doesn’t make it to the final round, you’ll still come away with something to help you develop as a writer and self-publisher.

North Street also offers some of the highest prizes of any contest out there. We give out $16,750 in total, which includes one $8,000 Grand Prize, seven $1,000 First Prizes, and seven $250 Honorable Mentions.

Finally, Winning Writers is a trusted writers’ resources website with over 20 years’ experience in literary contests. We are partnered with the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi), a designation for “contests which are organized for the benefit of the author rather than the profit of the organizer.” Winning Writers contests are featured on Reedsy’s Best Writing Contests of 2021.

Thanks for reading this Q&A! We hope to see your self-published book in this year’s North Street Book Prize.

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