2023 Submission Rules for Best Unpublished Crime Manuscript
Sponsored by ECW Press
Deadline 15 October 2022 @11:59 PM PT
The first award for Best Unpublished Crime Manuscript was presented by the Crime Writers of Canada in 2007 as part of the CWC mandate to recognize and promote the careers of promising new crime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 but who have a completed crime novel manuscript. Contestants initially only enter the first 5000 words plus a full synopsis, but must have a completed manuscript (50,000-110,000 words) at the time of entry.
Note: Crime novels include capers, cozies, detective stories, espionage, police procedural, and any other type of mystery, suspense, or thrillers. If you are not certain that your submission qualifies, please contact us at
All submissions should be in digital format only. From the initial submissions, up to ten (10) authors will be asked by the judges to submit their completed manuscripts. A shortlist of up to five (5) finalists will be selected from these completed manuscripts. Until the finalists are announced at the Shortlist Events on April 20, 2022, authors cannot announce their entry.
ECW will provide an additional judge to the Unpublished jury in the final phase of judging, so all finalists will have been read by the publisher.
The winner will receive the Unpublished Award statue along with a $500 cash prize from ECW in May 2023. Details will be sent to the shortlisted authors.
Definition of a Crime Novel
A crime novel must contain a crime (but not necessarily a murder) that is solved or thwarted or carried out by the main character. The crime must be integral to the plot.
The contest is open to all writers who fulfill the following eligibility requirements:
- 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.
- 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.
- You do not have a contract from a publisher for your manuscript. If you accept a novel contract during the course of the contest, or you decide to self-publish, you must notify us and your manuscript will be withdrawn without refund.
A novel that has an ISBN or ASIN is considered published commercially.
If you are published in the areas of nonfiction, short fiction (novellas and short stories), poetry, or plays/screenplays, you are eligible to submit.
You are welcome to submit the same manuscript in subsequent years, provided it was not shortlisted for the Unpublished Award and that criteria 1 to 3 are still met.
The decision of Crime Writers of Canada as to whether a manuscript is eligible for the Unpublished Award is binding.
Entrants must submit:
- One (1) digital PDF document containing:
- an opening 5000 words of their completed crime novel
- 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.
- A completed entry form and entry fee for each submission.
Manuscript and synopses must be:
- In English.
- Single-spaced on 8.5" x 11" page or A4 paper using 12-point Times New Roman or Courier, with 1-inch margins.
- Each page of the excerpt, synopsis, and 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.
- Make sure that each page is numbered.
- Submissions should be saved using the title of the manuscript and in PDF format.
- Please see the Unpublished Award Style Guide for more details.
Submissions must be emailed by 15 October 2021 @11:59 PM PDT or earlier.
We regret that entries after this date cannot be considered.
- $35 per manuscript
25% Discount Price for CWC Members
- $26.25 per manuscript
To receive the CWC member pricing:
- Membership must be in good standing
- Indicate on the form that you are a CWC member
Option 1 - ECWID
Go to Online Forms, click on Unpub Award and fill out the information for each submission. After completing your payment online, email your PDF submission to
Please include the manuscript title and order number in the subject line.
If entering more than one manuscript, send one email with the order number and one of the manuscript titles in the subject line. In the body of the email, list the titles of all the manuscripts attached.
Option 2 - Cheque
Please make out your cheque or money order in Canadian funds to Crime Writers of Canada. Please include the entry form(s) or confirmation from the online form. For your peace of mind, please request a delivery receipt from your courier or post office as the confirmation of receipt will not be sent by the Awards Manager.
Send your payment to:
Crime Writers of Canada Awards
716 Thicket Way
If entering more than one manuscript, send one email and include one of the manuscript titles in the subject line. In the body of the email, list all the titles of the attached manuscripts and indicate that you are paying by cheque.
All payments must be in Canadian funds. No exceptions will be made.
Submissions must be emailed by 15 October 2022 @11:59 PM PDT or earlier.
Authors will be notified no later than 21 January 2023, but potentially as early as 15 November 2021, if they have made the longlist and be required to submit, by email, their complete manuscript, in 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. Instructions for longlisted submissions will be provided in the notification email.
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 will be disqualified, as this is a blind contest.
Judging & Scorecard
This is a blind judged contest. Scorecards will be used to determine the longlist, shortlist, and winner. In the initial round, submissions will be blind judged and scored by three judges. Those not making the longlist will receive their scorecard on or before 28 February 2023.
ECW will provide an additional judge in the final phase of judging after the finalists have been chosen so that all finalists will have been read by the publisher.
There is no commitment on ECW Press’s part to publish the finalists, nor are the finalists obligated to accept an offer from ECW Press.
All scorecards will be returned on or before 6 June 2023.
Deadline: Submissions must be emailed by 15 October 2022 @11:59 PM PDT or earlier.
No contract can be accepted until the winner is announced without the withdrawal of the manuscript from the competition.
The Unpublished shortlist, along with the other Awards shortlists, will be announced on Wednesday, 19 April 2023 online.
The winner will in May 2023. All shortlisted authors will be sent details about this event.
The winner will receive a special Unpublished Award statue as well as a cash prize of $500 from ECW Press. However, if there is no clear winner, none will be declared.
Submissions must be emailed by 15 October 2022 @11:59 PM PDT or earlier.
Printable entry form (For those who prefer printed forms, and are paying by cheque.)