A chance to launch your debut novel


Britain’s Crime Writers’ Association is gearing up for another round of the Debut Dagger competition, its annual search for the best unpublished English-language crime fiction novel.

Started in 1998, the contest is open to anyone in the world who hasn’t had a novel published. Entrants submit the first 3,00 words of an English-language manuscript, and a synopsis of 500 to 1,000 words about the story’s progression.

Winning the Debut Dagger doesn’t guarantee publication, but the contest’s organizers send out the shortlisted titles to any agents and editors who want a look at them. And Canadian writers have had some amazing success stories as a result.

Louise Penny, author of the Inspector Armand Gamache series, rose to fame after Still Life was highly commended by judges (taking second place) in the 2004 event.

Alan Bradley won the contest in 2007 after submitting the first 15 pages of The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. Sweetness came out in 2009, followed by The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag in 2010 and A Red Herring Without Mustard this year.

Dorothy McIntosh was shortlisted in 2007. The Witch of Babylon was published by Penguin this year and, to date, it’s been sold in 20 countries. And it looks like Peggy Blair’s The Beggar’s Opera, shortlisted in 2010 and sold to Penguin the same year, will enjoy a similar success when it comes out in February.

The 2012 Debut Dagger contest opened today and will close on Jan. 21, 2012. Click here to find out how to enter.

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About rosemarymccracken

Rosemary McCracken is a Toronto-based journalist and fiction writer.
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