The CWA Debut Dagger Competition

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I've had a short story published - can I still enter?

A: Yes. Only authors who have published full length fiction are excluded.

Q: If I've had a non-crime novel published, am I still eligible?

A: In general, authors who have published full length fiction are excluded, but self-published and e-published writers should check eligibility with the Organiser.

Q: In the past I published some non-fiction works - can I still enter?

A: Yes. Authors of text books, biographies and all other forms other than fiction are eligible.

Q: Can I enter a film or television script?

A: No. I am afraid that we can only judge the beginning of novels, not scripts.

Q: Is there any restriction on the type of work or genre?

A: Only the openings of novels with a crime theme will be considered. However, we take a broad view of what constitutes a crime novel and welcome as broad an interpretation as possible.

Q: What should I put in my opening chapters and synopsis? How long should they be?

A: Take a look at the article What to Write.

Q: For online entries, should the synopsis come before or after the initial chapter?

A: We prefer the synopsis to come at the end, starting on a new page (but you wouldn't be disqualified if you don't do this).

Q: I have already written my novel. Can I send the whole work to you?

A: No. Only the opening 3,000 words will be considered

Q: I have written three books, none of which have been published. Can I send in the beginnings of all three?

A: Yes, but please note that you will need to send £25.00 for each entry. You may send in as many entries as you wish at £25.00 each.

Q: I am a US citizen. Can I send you a cheque (check) for the correct amount in US dollars?

A: No we do not accept cheques. However we can accept international payments by PayPal.

Q: When and how will short-listed entrants be notified?

A: We hope to let shortlisted entrants know of their selection in May.

Q: When will the shortlist be announced?

A: The shortlist will be announced at Crimefest, probably on the Friday (16 May 2014), and simultaneously put on the CWA website and emailed to the Debut Dagger mailing list.

Q: When will the winner be announced?

A: The overall winner will be announced at the CWA Awards ceremony in July.

Q: How much is the prize?

A: The overall winner will receive a £700 cash prize.

Q: Is there a prize for getting to the shortlist?

A: Yes. Shortlisted authors will win a professional assessment of their entry.

Q: Can I have my entry sent back after the competition?

A: No. We do not have the administrative capacity to provide for returning entries. It is simply not practical to identify individual entries from the large number we receive, once they have been read.

Q: Could you write to confirm that CWA will not take over the copyright of my entry?

A: There is no need. Under British law, you own copyright as soon as you write the work. In addition the Crime Writers' Association is formed by authors for authors and would never permit any form of plagiarism.

Q: Would it be possible to have a full written report on my work?

A: The short-listed entrants will each receive a summary of the judges' comments on their entry, but it would be impractical to try to offer this service for all entries.

Q: Should I put the title and my name on every page, or just the entry form?

A: We have now revised the rules to make it mandatory to include page numbers and the title of the novel - but NOT your name - in a header or footer on each page. This was always our advice, because it makes it easier to keep the judging anonymous, while also guarding against any loose pages getting lost.

Q: Are there any age limits for entrants?

A: No.

Q: Can I enter under a pseudonym?

A: Yes - although if we ring you up to let you know you've won, make sure you don't forget your pen name and hang up on us. Alternately, you can enter under your own name but specify on the entry form that you're writing under a pseudonym.

Q: How strict are you about the 3000 word limit for the opening of the novel?

A: In order to keep the playing field level, 3000 words is the absolute upper limit.

To contact us:

Write to: CWA Debut Dagger Competition
PO Box 1466
UK --> Email: