Winners' books

The CWA Debut Dagger

Fancy a stab at Crime Writing?

For 15 years the CWA has been encouraging new writing with its Debut Dagger competition for unpublished writers. The submissions are judged by a panel of top crime editors and agents, and the short listed entries are sent to publishers and agents.

The 2014 Competition opened on Friday 1st November 2013 and closed on Friday 31st January 2014. The shortlist will be announced at Crimefest in May and the overall winner will be announced at the CWA Dagger Awards Dinner shortly after.

The Debut Dagger is open to anyone who has not yet had a novel published commercially. The first prize is £700, kindly sponsored by Orion, and all shortlisted entrants will receive a professional assessment of their entries. Winning the Debut Dagger doesn’t guarantee you’ll get published. But it does mean your work will be seen by leading agents and top editors, who have signed up over two dozen winners and shortlisted Debut Dagger competitors.

Want more advice?

  • STYLE GUIDE: Members of the CWA have produced a style guide which will help you with formatting and presentation.
  • WHAT TO WRITE: Judges and members consider what they are looking for in a submission
  • FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS: Everything you could ever need to know about the Debut Dagger.

For 2014 we launched a Facebook Group which gives aspiring writers the opportunity to ask questions of CWA members and forms a community for those who are planning on entering.

In addition we have our long-standing Debut Dagger mailing list – a free email covering the different stages of putting together an entry and other helpful tips This will have news of the 2014 shortlist and winners, and advance information about next year’s competition.

We also have our Manuscript Assessment Service which will help you polish your writing and prepare your submission. This service is provided by members of the CWA and costs just £100.


Winning the CWA Debut Dagger does not guarantee you’ll get published but it does mean your work will be seen by leading agents and top editors.

Good luck!

Lucy Santos
Director, Crime Writers’ Association