CWA Debut Dagger – Terms & Conditions and Submission Guidelines

Only unpublished authors are eligible to enter for the CWA Debut Dagger.
Online entry is a two-stage process. First you must pay the £30 submission fee. Once your payment has gone through you will receive an automatic email with your submission number and a link to the submission form.


Manuscripts should be 12pt, double spaced, in an easily readable font such as Times, Arial or Helvetica.
They must fall within the prescribed word limit.
Manuscripts 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.


The 2017 competition opens on 1st October 2016, closing date of 28 February 2017.
Entries may be submitted at any time between the opening and closing dates.
Entries received after the closing date will not be considered.


The shortlist and winner are announced at the prestigious CWA Gala Dinner held in London.


£30 + VAT Please note we can only accept payments via PayPal.

  1. Entrants should submit the opening of a proposed crime novel (up to maximum of 3,000 words) together with a synopsis (500 to 1,000 words) of its further development.
  2. Entrants can be self-published, and have self-published any number of books, but the entry you submit must not have been published in any form. You must not have a publishing contract at time of submission.
  3. An entry fee  must be paid before you are able to send your submission. After payment an automated email will be sent to you with an URL for the submission form. Please do keep a note of your PayPal reference as you will need this when entering.
  4. Submissions must be in English and typed using double-line spacing. Pages must be numbered with the title of your story included on each page.
  5. All entries must be submitted as a single file containing both the opening 3000 words and the synopsis. The file should be saved with the text double-spaced and the margins set for A4 paper (210 x 297mm).
  6. The file must be in the following formats: Microsoft Word Document (*.doc).
  7. The entrant is responsible for ensuring that the file is readable and uncorrupted.
  8. The file cannot be amended or changed in any way once it has been submitted.
  9. Any entrant who submits a file or e-mail containing a virus will be immediately disqualified and will forfeit their entry fee.
  10. We will acknowledge receipt of entries and payment by automated e-mail.
  11. 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 Chairman, 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. There are no cash alternatives to non-cash prizes.
  • Shortlisted authors will receive a professional assessment of their entry.
  • Shortlisted entries are sent to all publishers and agents who are happy to receive it.
  • Exposure in the national media and industry
  • Full coverage on the CWA Social Media Network


  • There is no commitment to publish the winning entry.
  • Copyright will remain with the entrant.

Enter the Debut Dagger

Go back to the entry form
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