The Crime Writers’ Association

CWA Debut Dagger Open for Submissions

Entries are being invited from uncontracted writers for the coveted CWA Debut Dagger Award.


Authors shortlisted for the Debut Dagger come to the direct attention of interested literary agents and publishers. M W Craven who won the 2019 Gold Dagger for best crime novel for The Puppet Show was shortlisted a few years ago for the Debut Dagger. Entering, Craven said, changed his life, he said: “I’ve been able to leave my job and become a full-time writer. And all this success comes from entering the Debut Dagger in 2013.”


The CWA website has a series of Debuts blog to inspire aspiring authors from those who’ve triumphed. It also features Crime Writing Tips, for advice, where author Cal Moriarty is creating a series of articles on novel-writing that entrants might find useful.


To submit to the award, entries need to include the opening of a crime novel up to 3,000 words, together with a synopsis for the full novel of up to 1,500 words. Novels do not need to be finished, and you can still enter if you have self-published providing you’ve never had a traditional contract for a full-length novel. Debut authors must not already have an agent or contract at the time the competition closes. To enter costs £36.


The winner will receive £500. Deadline for submissions is 6pm on 29 February 2020.


For those seeking professional feedback, the CWA provides the Criminal Critiques service. The Mini Critique is specially aimed at Debut Dagger entrants. If you want feedback in time to hone and polish for the deadline, the service is open until 19 Dec and then from 2 January 2020 and promises a speedy turnaround.


Go to the Debut Dagger for the full rules and to submit your entry. For more details contact before 19 December 2019 or after 2 January 2020.

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