The Crime Writers' Association

CWA Dagger Awards 2022 Terms and Conditions of Entry

Only publishers who are on the CWA List of Approved Publishers will be eligible to enter the CWA Dagger Awards – if you are not listed please contact to confirm your eligibility and to be added to the list.

Relating to the CWA Dagger Awards for: Gold; Ian Fleming Steel; John Creasey (New Blood);  Historical; ALCS Gold for Non Fiction; Crime Fiction in Translation and Short Story. Any UK publisher may enter titles provided that the work is relevant to the appropriate award, as defined under Eligibility (section 2), and the first UK edition was published within the specified dates of the Judging Period (section 1). Publishers in the Republic of Ireland who distribute in the UK via trade channels but do not have a presence in the UK will be accepted if the book is priced in pounds sterling or was dual priced £/€. The definition of “work” is a novel, short story or non-fiction book.

Publication date

For the purposes of these Terms and Conditions, the date of publication of a work is defined as follows:

Where a work is published in both digital and physical formats, the publication date is the date of publication of the first physical copy of the work.

Where a work is published in digital format only, the publication date is the date on which the download is first made available to the purchaser.

No work, however many formats and editions in which it is published, may have more than one publication date for the purposes of entry to the Dagger Awards.

  1. Deadlines

The 2021 Daggers are for works published from 1 January 2021 to 31 December 2021 inclusive. Please note the following changes:
Books published within the first 6 months of the year. 31st July 2021 deadline for the books to reach the judges.

The second judging period is for books published from 1 August to 31 December.

All online forms must be submitted by 15 October, and the books to reach the judges by 15th November.

This is to prevent a backlog of titles arriving in the final weeks. To help facilitate the judging we suggest that works can be submitted in advance of true publication date by supplying judges with proofs if available.

  1. Eligibility

For publishers to be eligible to register to enter books for the CWA Dagger Awards they must comply with the following:

That they offer an author a contract with a full service publisher who pays royalties and does not require the author to pay any part of the cost of publication. This includes the costs of producing and marketing their book and any editorial services. If the publisher is located outside the UK it must also be registered in the UK; books from distributors only are not eligible.

The CWA is a flagship organisation awarding the prestigious Daggers and representing the very best in crime-writing. While we appreciate that there are many self-published books of commercial standard, the CWA currently only admits those authors with a traditional contract as members, and therefore to be consistent we must apply the same condition to books nominated for the Daggers.

A publisher may only submit one title per author per award. Titles may be entered for any other literary award, including the other CWA Daggers. Translated works are also eligible for the Ian Fleming Steel, Historical and John Creasey (New Blood) Daggers, the key date being that of UK publication and not the original foreign language publication.


    • CWA Gold Dagger: This award is for the best crime novel by an author of any nationality, originally written in English, first published in the UK during the Judging Period. The broadest definition of the crime novel defines eligible books, including thrillers both physical and psychological, suspense novels, humorous novels and spy fiction. Books in translation are not eligible for this Dagger.
    • CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger: This award is for the best thriller novel first published in the UK during the Judging Period. The broadest definition of the thriller novel is used for eligible books; these can be set in any period and include, but are not limited to, spy fiction, action/adventure stories and psychological thrillers. Ian Fleming said there was one essential criterion for a good thriller – that ‘one simply has to turn the page’; this is one of the main characteristics that the judges will be looking for. NB: Authors writing a story based on another author’s character will not be eligible. The reason for this is that there is no issue with IFPL new Bond novels being submitted.
    • CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger: This award is for the best crime novel by a first-time author of any nationality with their first novel of any kind first published in the UK in English during the Judging Period. ‘Best crime novel by a first-time author’ means that the author must not have had a novel of any sort published anywhere before under any name whatsoever. In the case of novels with more than one author, all the authors must meet this requirement. It is up to the publisher to ensure that novels submitted for this award do qualify.
    • CWA Dagger for Crime Fiction in Translation (previously International Dagger):This award is for crime fiction novels (defined by the broadest definition including thrillers, suspense novels and spy fiction) as long as the book was not originally written in English and has been translated into English for UK publication during the Judging Period.
    • CWA Historical Dagger: This award is for the best historical crime novel, first published in the UK in English during the Judging Period, set in any period up to 50 years prior to the year in which the award will be made. For novels that involve passages set later than this time period, at least three-quarters of the book should be set in an earlier period. Please select only those titles that are historical – and in which the commission, investigation and solution of a crime is the central theme.
    • CWA ALCS Gold Dagger for NonFiction: This award is for any non-fiction work on a crime-related theme by an author of any nationality on condition that the book was first published in the UK in English during the Judging Period. This award encompasses, though is not limited to, non-fiction works relating to true crime, historical crime, crime-related biography, crime-fiction literature and critical studies.
    • CWA Short Story Dagger: This award is for any crime short story first published in the UK in English in a publication that pays for contributions, or broadcast in the UK in return for payment, or e-stories from bona fide publishers that pay for contributions during the Judging Period. The term short story refers to a work of fiction no shorter than 1,000 and no longer than 15,000 words.
  1. Submissions

An online nomination form must be completed for each title entry submitted and the appropriate processing fee paid with nomination. Once the details entered have been checked and the processing payment received, you will be emailed details of where to post the books.

For Short Stories which have been broadcast but not published, please contact the Dagger Liaison Officer for information on how to submit.

    • Submission of Electronic Files. The EFILE must be in a format that is compatible with all standard eReaders, e.g. Kindle, iPad, Kobo, etc. There can be no expiration date associated with the file. Just as with physical books the judges will sign a confidentiality agreement that states they will not pass the digital edition to anyone. All EFILES or widgits must be sent “clean,” i.e. with no sales/promotion/quotes material attached. Watermarked versions are acceptable but not preferred.
    • Where the work is submitted in the form of a physical book, the publisher must also submit an EFILE version. Failure to comply may result in the work being excluded for consideration.
  1. Processing fee

In order to offset some of the Association’s costs, a processing fee will be charged for each submission per dagger award, and is non-refundable. The fee is £50.00 per title (£15.00 per individual short story). A collection of short stories will be £50.00. The title of a fully paid-up CWA member can be submitted for half the regular fee; ie. for £25 for full works and for £7.50 for individual short stories. Fees should be paid in full and the DLO will refund the over-payment where the nominated title is by a fully subscribed CWA member. All processing fees are subject to VAT.

The nomination process is now linked to an online shop. The processing fee is due and payable at the same time as the nomination. The fee can be made via Paypal or Stripe payment processors, either using a credit or debit card linked to that processor or an account. After the nomination(s) and processing fee(s) are received, you will be sent the judges’ details. Please note that if a nomination is withdrawn for any reason, the processing fee remains due and payable. It is the publisher’s responsibility to ensure that all payments are safely received by the CWA by 1 December 2021. Beyond this date the book could be disqualified.

  1. Sending Books

You will be sent a PDF file which will provide you with a set of cover sheets containing the judges’ contact details. One copy of each book should be sent to ALL judges including the chair of judges (unless otherwise instructed). Please enclose the cover sheet with each book; this will assist the judges identifying the name of the Dagger for which the book is being submitted. It would be a great help to the judges if you ensure that the label on each parcel bears the name of the Dagger for which the book is being submitted. Please do not send books to the papers or magazines for which the judge reviews, unless otherwise instructed. Please use Royal Mail to deliver books where possible, as it can be hard for judges to rearrange deliveries of missed packages with other couriers.

Where a book has been published in digital format only, this section should be complied with by providing print-outs of a pdf file of the work.

  1. Terms and Conditions

It is a condition of entry that publishers:

    •  will place the CWA logo and “Winner of the CWA [Dagger name]” or “Shortlisted for the CWA [Dagger Name]”, including where appropriate the name (s) of sponsor(s) provided by the Crime Writers’ Association on the cover of subsequent editions of winning/shortlisted books. These are available from the CWA Secretary A trademark statement that accompanies the logo must be included on the cover or in the book’s front matter.
    • Will ensure that any shortlisted author, or a nominated representative, attends any CWA Dagger Shortlisting Reception and CWA Dagger Awards Dinner and will be available for media interviews immediately afterwards and/or on the following morning. Please note that no complimentary tickets will be given to authors or their nominated representative to the CWA Dagger Awards Dinner.
    • Will, on request, provide a cover image, extract and author photograph with the necessary clearances for use on the CWA website, social media channels and other marketing materials.

Submission of any entry will be taken as complete acceptance of these conditions. The CWA will run a campaign promoting the shortlisted titles for all Daggers through social media and other communications. In common with most other similar awards we do not give advance notice to winners.

The eligibility period for the current judging period is 1 January 2021 – 31 December 2021.