Competition: CWA Debut Dagger Award
Competition Deadline: 28th February 2018
Would-be crime novelists dream about winning this one. There’s no denying that even being shortlisted brings your work to the attention of literary agents and publishers, and the Debuts page on the CWA website has lots of encouraging and exciting stories about how winners and shortlisters have gone to find publication. Right now there’s a fascinating piece about the path to publication taken by Amer Anwar, who won in 2008, Mark Ungless, and also Graham Brack and Roz Watkins who were shortlisted in 2016. All went on to earn publishing contracts, together with winner Mark Brandi.
So what do you have to do? Write an opening of a crime novel up to 3,000 words, together with a synopsis for the full novel of up to 1,000 words. Do you need to finish the novel? No. Can you enter even if you’ve self-published it? Yes (providing you’ve never had a traditional contract for a full-length novel). Is there an entry cost? Yes: £36. And can you win money as well as glory? Yes: £500 for the winner.
The deadline is 28 February 2018, so still plenty of time. And if you think getting some professional feedback on your novel might be a good idea, the CWA provides that: check out the Criminal Critiques page on the CWA website. The Mini Critique, specially aimed at Debut Dagger entrants, was so popular last year that it’s been introduced on a permanent basis. Even so, if you want feedback in time to hone and polish for the deadline, we recommend you submit soon.
Terms and Conditions
Please note: Current and former members of the CWA are not allowed to enter the Debut Dagger competition.
The competition is for those who have never had a publishing contract for a full-length novel.
Only unpublished authors are eligible to enter for the CWA Debut Dagger. Self-published authors are welcome to enter as long as they have never had a traditional publishing contract for a full-length novel.
Online entry is a two-stage process. First you must pay the £36 (inc VAT) submission fee. Once your payment has gone through you will receive a receipt with a transaction ID from PayPal. You may then return to submit your entry at any point until the submission deadline. You will need to submit your PayPal transaction ID along with your entry so we can confirm that all entries have been paid for.
Manuscripts should preferably be 12pt, double spaced, in an easily readable font such as Times, Arial or Helvetica. Please use page numbers.
They must fall within the prescribed word limit and not exceed it, not even by a few words.
Manuscripts must not include the author’s name or contact details, only the title of the work. This will be allocated a unique CWA reference number.
The 2018 competition opens on 1st October 2017, closing at midnight GMT on 28 February 2018.
Entries may be submitted at any time between the opening and closing dates.
Entries received after the closing date will not be considered.
Please note the dates below are advisory and may be changed.
The longlist will be announced at CrimeFest in May 2018 and published on our website.
The shortlist will be announced during the summer of 2018 and published on our website.
The winner will be announced at the glamorous CWA Dagger Awards Gala Dinner which is usually held in London in October.
COST OF ENTRY
£30 + VAT = £36.
Please note we can only accept payments via PayPal and via the website submission process, except in special circumstances.
We will always do our best to assist with any difficulties experienced with either payment or submission. If these occur in the final hours of the competition, then providing we have evidence of attempted payment/submission before the deadline we will help the next working day and your entry will still be valid.
1. Entrants should submit the opening of a proposed crime novel (up to an absolute maximum of 3,000 words) together with a synopsis (500 to 1,000 words) of its further development.
Please provide the total word count where requested of opening and synopsis together.
Titles and chapter or section headings can be excluded from the word count.
Entries will be disqualified and the fee forfeit if the word count for opening and synopsis, minus headings, is over 4,000. This might sound strict, but ensures a fair competition for all.
2. Please do not submit the full novel rather than the opening as described above. To do so risks disqualification and forfeit of entry fee.
3. Entrants can be self-published, and have self-published any number of books, including the novel submitted, or part thereof. You must not have a publishing contract for a full-length novel of any kind at time of submission or have ever had such a contract.
4. An entry fee must be paid before you are able to send your submission. After payment you will be directed to the submission page.
5. Submissions must be in English and we prefer double-line spacing. Pages should be numbered, sequentially from the opening page of the novel to the last page of the synopsis, with the title of your story included on each page.
6. You must not include your name or any pseudonym on the document.
7. All entries must be submitted as a single file containing both the opening 3000 words and the synopsis. The file should preferably be saved with the text double-spaced and the margins set for A4 paper (210 x 297mm)
8. The file must be in the following formats: doc, docx, txt or pdf. The entrant is responsible for ensuring that the file is readable and uncorrupted.
9. The file cannot be amended or changed in any way once it has been submitted.
10. Any entrant who submits a file or email containing a virus will be immediately disqualified and will forfeit their entry fee.
11. We will acknowledge receipt of entries and payment by automated e-mail.
12. At our discretion, and only where practicable, we may notify an entrant of an unreadable file and invite them to resubmit the entry.
A shortlist of entries, selected by professional readers, will be forwarded to a final judging panel chaired by the CWA Criminal Critiques Coordinator and composed of crime fiction editors from major publishing houses and authors’ agents.
The judges’ decision is final and we will not enter into any correspondence about the result.
The winner will receive a prize of £500.
Shortlisted authors will receive a brief professional assessment of their entry.
Shortlisted entries are sent to all UK publishers and agents who are happy to receive them.
Exposure in the national media and publishing industry.
Full coverage on the CWA social media network.
Please note we reserve the right to amend the above during the competition. Any change will be notified on the website.
There is no commitment to publish the winning entry.
Copyright will remain with the entrant.
Further information available here.