The Crime Writers’ Association

What are Criminal Critiques?

Criminal Critiques is the CWA’s critique 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 competitions, 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, what doesn’t and what to do about it.

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. (We provide editing services through our partner Fiction Feedback, too – see below.)

The CWA has been running the prestigious Debut Dagger competition for twenty years, which has helped many crime writers meet agents and editors and secure publishing deals, and entrants benefit hugely from this assessment service – as do entrants to the CWA/Margery Allingham Short Story Competition.

Please send your work for Criminal Critique or any queries to

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

How does it work?

We not only highlight strengths, we also identify weaknesses and suggest how to address them in a constructive and practical way.

Many thanks for the swift return on my novel. Please pass on my sincere thanks to the reviewer. It is truly wonderful to have an independent, yet well informed, opinion on my writing. I will take all advice on board in my next draft. Rob

How much does it cost?

Prices are shown including VAT. Sadly we have to charge this whether or not you live in the UK.


LevelManuscript lengthCostTime requiredWhat to expect
Level AUp to 5,000 words

(plus 1,000 word synopsis)

£1443 weeksA detailed critique

(minimum 2 pages)

Level BUp to 100,000 words (plus 1000 word synopsis)£3595 weeksA detailed critique

(minimum 4 pages)

MiniUp to 4,500 words

– Can be a novel opening
– Can be 3,000 words plus 1,500 word synopsis
– Can be a short story

£933 weeksMini critique of 500 words minimum

Mini Criminal Critique

Our Mini Critique service, aimed especially at Debut Dagger entrants, is so popular that we now offer it all year round. Please tell us if you’re intending to enter the Debut Dagger and ensure you get your work in for critique in time. (If you’re not entering the Debut Dagger this year and just want a Mini Critique, there is of course no deadline – submit any time.)

Thanks so much for this quick turnaround. I’m sure this review will be very helpful. I’m looking forward to getting to work and digging into these suggestions for improvement. Thank you for offering this service, it’s a great way to help aspiring authors. Jane

Please send your work for Criminal Critique or any queries to

Criminal editing

Need more in-depth help? Closer guidance? A full structural editing report perhaps, or maybe your MS is ready for copy-editing? We are now working with professional editing partners Fiction Feedback to offer you additional support.

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