Unpublished Manuscripts


For information about the contest, please email:


Submissions open September 1, 2016

2016 Submission Rules for
The Dundurn Unhanged Arthur
Award for Best Unpublished Crime Manuscript


The first Unhanged Arthur was awarded by the Crime Writers of Canada in 2007 as part of the CWC mandate to recognize and promote the careers of promising new crime writers.

The competition is open to (1) Canadian citizens, no matter where they are living, and to writers, regardless of nationality, who have Permanent Resident status in Canada, (2) who have never had a novel of any kind published commercially, and (3) do not have a contract with a publisher.

Contestants must have a completed novel manuscript (50,000-110,000 words) at the time of entry.

Submit the opening chapter(s) – no more than 5000 words – plus a 500-word synopsis of the entire novel.

Crime novels include capers, detective, espionage, mystery, police procedural, suspense, and thrillers. If you are not certain that your submission qualifies, please contact us at:

From these initial submissions, up to ten (10) authors will be asked by the judges to submit their completed manuscripts in digital format. A shortlist will be selected from these completed manuscripts.

All manuscripts on the shortlist will be submitted to Dundurn Press who will consider the manuscript for publication Dundurn will be allowed three (3) months from the date of the shortlist announcements to make an offer if they so choose, before the manuscript may be submitted elsewhere.

The winner will receive the Unhanged Arthur statue along with a $750 cash prize from Dundurn.

The award is presented at the Arthur Ellis Awards Banquet. Details will be sent to the shortlisted authors.

Competition Rules

Definition of a Crime Novel

“Crime novel” includes capers, detective, espionage, mystery, police procedural, suspense, thrillers and other crime-related sub-genres, and can be set in any time period.


The contest is open to all writers who fulfill the following eligibility requirements:

  1. You are a Canadian citizen, regardless of place of residence, or a writer, regardless of nationality, who has been granted Permanent Resident status in Canada.
  2. You have not had a novel, or novel-length work of fiction (50,000+ words), of any kind published commercially, whether: in print or electronically (i.e., e-book or published on the Internet) or self-published in any genre, including literary fiction under your given name or a pseudonym, and/or written alone or jointly with another author.
  3. You do not have a contract from a publisher for your manuscript. If you accept a novel contract during the course of the contest, you must notify us and your manuscript will be withdrawn without refund.

A novel that has an ISBN or ASBN is considered to be published commercially.

If you are published in the areas of nonfiction, short fiction (novellas and short stories), poetry, or short plays/screenplays, you are eligible to submit to the Unhanged Arthur.

You are welcome to submit the same manuscript in subsequent years, provided it was not shortlisted for the Unhanged Arthur Award before, and that criteria 1 to 3 are still met.

If you are uncertain whether your manuscript is eligible, contact us at: .
The decision of Crime Writers of Canada as to whether a manuscript is eligible for the Unhanged Arthur Award is binding.

Submission procedure

Entrants must submit:

  1. Three (3) copies of the opening 5000 words of their completed crime novel
  2. Three (3) copies of a 500-word synopsis of the novel. The synopsis should be of the entire novel. The synopsis is a crucial part of the submission; it's the only way the judges can see the plot development, so take time to write it.
  3. A completed entry form and $25 fee for each submission.

Manuscripts and synopses must be in English, single-spaced on 8.5" x 11" paper or A4 paper using 12-point Times New Roman or Courier, with 1 inch margins, and unbound.

Each page of the manuscript must have a header in the upper left-hand corner, containing the title of the manuscript. Do not include your name in the header because the judges will be judging blind. Make sure that each page is numbered. Do not include your name on the synopsis, just the title of the book.

Each submission must be accompanied by a completed entry form and an entry fee of $25.00. Only cheques or money orders, in Canadian funds, made out to Crime Writers of Canada can be accepted. There are no exceptions to this rule. If you wish to pay via PayPal, please contact for instructions. Writers may submit any number of entries provided that each is accompanied by an entry form plus the entry fee of $25.00.

Entries must be postmarked or courier dated by the closing date of October 15, 2015.

The judges will come up with a long list from the initial submissions. These authors will be notified no later than January 15, 2016, but potentially as early as November 15, 2015, and be required to submit, by email, three (3) copies of their complete manuscript, in Word Doc or PDF format, at that time or be immediately disqualified. The semi-finalists will also be asked to provide a 100-word book blurb, a 50-word bio and an author photo via email.

The judging is still blind at this point, so only put your name on the cover email. Make sure your name does not appear in the document or document properties. Do not advertise that you have made the long list, or publish excerpts from your manuscript, until the shortlist is announced. If you do, you may be disqualified, as this is a blind contest.

The Unhanged Arthur shortlist, along with the other Arthur Ellis Awards shortlists, will be announced in April at the Arthur Ellis Shortlist Events across Canada.

Dundurn will consider the manuscripts of all the finalists for publication. The finalists are required to allow Dundurn three (3) months, from the date of the shortlist announcements, to make an offer. There is no commitment on Dundurn’s part to publish the finalists, nor are the finalists obligated to accept Dundurn’s offer, however, no other contract may be accepted until the end of the three-month period.

The winner will be announced at the CWC Arthur Ellis Awards Ceremony. All shortlisted authors will be sent details about both events.

The winner will receive a special Arthur Ellis statue as well as the cash prize of $750 from Dundurn. However, if there is no clear winner, none will be declared.

Entries and manuscripts cannot be returned.

Entries are sent to:
Crime Writers of Canada, Unhanged Arthur
4C-240 Westwood Road
Guelph, Ontario
N1H 7W9

Submissions must be postmarked or courier dated no later than October 15, 2015.

We regret that entries postmarked after this date cannot be considered.

If you are using a courier or priority post, the destination phone number is 519-826-9693. With so many parcels arriving daily, you will understand that there may be a delay in receipting your package.  For your own piece of mind, please request a delivery receipt from your courier or post office.

CWC has created a Style Guide for your reference. Go to: www.crimewriterscanada.com/awards/submissionrules/unpublished-manuscripts/476-unhanged-arthur-tips


For information about the contest, please email:

For information about Crime Writers of Canada, please email:


Unhanged Style Guide

PDF Unhanged Rules

PDF Unhanged Entry Form

Rules for Published Works