The Crime Writers' Association

What are Criminal Critiques?

The CWA offers a critique service (formerly called the Manuscript Assessment Service) for aspiring crime fiction writers, to help you polish your writing and prepare your manuscript for submission to agents and publishers or for competitions such as the Debut Dagger and short story compeittions, too.

The critiques are carried out by our own published authors and other members who bring a wealth of writing, editing and manuscript assessment experience to the task. We understand that the competition to achieve a publishing deal is fierce and that it can really help to get a professional view on what works – and what doesn’t.

As an organisation we’re committed to the crime genre, and we know what makes a thrilling crime novel.

Your work will be read by one of our experienced members, who will provide you with detailed feedback that will help you hone your writing. The CWA has also run the prestigious Debut Dagger competition for over fifteen years, which has helped many crime writers meet agents and editors and secure publishing deals.

How does it work?

Fabulous service! Please pass on my thanks to the reader. I knew the manuscript needed more work, but wasn’t sure where to start. I really appreciate having some direction.
(Sharon, Western Australia)

I just wanted to say how helpful I found this assessment. I found it useful to have someone objective read the whole manuscript and it gave me some new ideas about how to approach the novel. This is a great service and I have recommended it to several other writers I know.
(Jackie, Scotland)

How much does it cost?

Please note all the prices below are subject to VAT.

Level Manuscript length Cost Time required What to expect
Level A Up to 3000 words
(plus 1000 word synopsis)
£100 3 weeks A detailed critique
(minimum 2 pages)
Level B Up to 100,000 words
(plus 1000 word synopsis)
£350 5 weeks A detailed critique
(minimum 4 pages)

How do I submit a manuscript?

Please send your Word Document (.doc or .docx) to and provide your email and postal address (we need the latter for VAT purposes). Please note we no longer accept pdf files. We should be able to accept .rtf files if necessary.
After we have received your file we will invoice you for the fee for the service. Your file will not be sent to our assessors until this payment has been received.

Submission guidelines
Manuscripts should be 12pt, double spaced, in an easily readable font such as Times, Arial or Helvetica. They must fall within the prescribed word limits. Manuscripts themselves must not include the author’s name or contact details, only the title of the work which will be allocated a unique CWA reference number.

Submit a manuscript