Optional Contest Feedback

New! Optional writing contest feedback

Would you like to know how your contest entry lands with our screeners?

New service! For an additional $20 CAD, we will send you brief feedback about your entry's strengths and snags.

This will come in the form of an email with a few notes about what our screener thought, a score out of five, plus any relevent resources. Please note: this feedback will not be sent until after the contest closes and winners are announced.

Here's an example of what that might look like for an entry to our Clash of the Query Letters contest:

Dear Writer,

I am a big fan of speculative fiction, so I was immediately intrigued by the world-building hints you've slipped in. Also, I like that you've included a couple comp titles that are recent, which shows you are actively reading within your market.

My biggest snag is the word count. A debut novel is a hard sell, so anything that goes too far outside industry standards will raise eyebrows. At 42k words, I'm afraid many agents will conclude that the narrative isn't quite cooked.

Here's some more information on that topic:

If I was an agent and this landed on my desk, would I still flip to the sample pages? Yes, absolutely. Despite my concerns, I definitely see potential in this pitch.

Score: 3/5


Your friendly neighbourhood contest screener

What's the screener score all about?

This is how our screeners rank the submissions they review. You need 5/5 to make it onto the shortlist.

Here's the breakdown:

5—All engines are firing! 
4—One small snag, but otherwise a solid entry
3—A more significant snag, but still lots of potential
2—Something significant isn't working here
1—A general lack of clarity and/or proofreading

(Keep in mind that for agents, a relative score of 1/5 is often down to technical or targeting oversights, like they don't represent the genre you're pitching, you've addressed your query to the wrong agent, or you haven't followed their submissions guidelines.)

All the best on your querying quest!

About the Darling Axe

Our editors are industry professionals and award-winning writers. We offer narrative development, editing, and coaching for every stage of your manuscript's journey to publication.

Work with a professional fiction editor from the Darling Axe: manuscript development and book editing services

Book a sample edit with a professional fiction editor from the Darling Axe: manuscript development and book editing services

Darling Axe Academy – Query Quest: a self-paced querying course

Related Posts

The One Plot Twist You Need
The One Plot Twist You Need
For the next week, you can access an incredible bundle of 30+ writing resources. This collection includes courses, e-boo
Read More
The Importance of Heading Styles in Microsoft Word: A Guide for Novelists
The Importance of Heading Styles in Microsoft Word: A Guide for Novelists
Spend some time getting familiar with these tools. It will save you a lot of tedium down the road!
Read More
Rainforest Writing Retreat
Rainforest Writing Retreat
We’re pleased to offer more affordable pricing this year, and on top of that, we’re catering most of the meals. Win-win!
Read More


  • For competitions, is it okay to submit a query letter that is addressed to an agent currently working in the industry (not a Darling Axe agent)? Or is personalization not required for the letter in this context?

    Jennifer Albert
  • Hi Bruce! I sent your feedback on Feb 14. Perhaps it ended up in your spam folder. I will send it again right now. —David

    David @ Darling Axe
  • Any idea when the critiques from the query contest will go out?

    Bruce Byfield
  • Hello!

    Barry Troupe

Leave a comment

Name .
Message .

Thanks! Your comment has been submitted for approval. Please be patient while we weed out the spam ♥