For Crime, Mystery, and Thriller Novels

Closing Deadline: 1st February 2021


The Crucible First Novel Award is a brand new, free to enter competition for unrepresented authors.

We are looking for the best new novels in crime, mystery, and thriller, and are asking entrants to submit the first 5,000 words of their manuscripts, along with a 150 word 'elevator pitch'. We will choose the best 20-30 entries, and compile them into the Crucible Chapbook, which will be sent to a list of agents and agencies. 

This year's judges are:

Catherine Cho of the Madeleine Milburn Agency

Hellie Ogden of the Janklow & Nesbitt Agency

Lucy Morris of Curtis Brown Books

Marina De Pass & Niamh O'Grady of The Soho Agency

Click on our judges' names to see their profiles.

Each judge will request at least one full MS from our chapbook.

This award does not offer remuneration and does not require an entry fee.


The full list of agencies who have requested to receive a copy of our chapbook are;

By placing in our chapbook, you will given Grindstone Literary's official stamp of approval, and will receive the full attention of the reading agents.

The list of those placing in the chapbook will be announced on the 1st of May 2021.

Those whose work has received a full MS request from the judging agents will be announced on the 1st of June 2021.

What To Submit

  • A single PDF document containing both your 'elevator pitch' and the opening to your manuscript. No synopsis is required.

    • Page 1: The title of your submission, the genre, and your elevator pitch; 100-150 word 'pitch' of your main plot.

    • Page 2: Your submission. We are asking for the opening 5,000 words, cut to a natural break if possible. Entries may exceed this margin by 5% only if required.

  • Entrants are asked to submit their work in Times New Roman font, size 12, with either 1.5 or double line spacing for ease of reading.

  • Entries should not contain any identifying data in the spirit of anonymity and fairness.

How To Submit

  • Entries must be made via Grindstone Literary's online submission Dashboard. You can click here to reach it or use the 'Dashboard' link at the top of this page.

  • Entrants will be required to sign up to use this platform, which is FREE, and requires no payment.

    • It is used solely to allow users to manage their submissions and view the results of the competitions they enter.

  • Entrants may visit: at any time to register an account or log in, or click the 'Dashboard' link at the top of this page.

  • Once an account has been registered and verified, you can submit by clicking the 'Crucible First Novel Award' button on the left-hand menu, or by clicking the submit button below.

  • More information on our User Dashboard system can be found on this blog post.

  • No entry fee or payment is required.

  • The winning entries will be announced via email and on social media. You may also view the result of your submission in your user dashboard following the announcement date.


  • The Crucible First Novel Award is open to unrepresented authors submitting previously unpublished manuscripts. Manuscripts which have been published in any form, either traditionally or self-published, are ineligible to enter. 

  • Entries which fall within the genres of crime, mystery, thriller, or their sub-genres are eligible.

    • eg. Historical Crime, Sci-fi Mysteries, Urban Fantasy Thrillers, ​ Cosy Mysteries, etc. 

  • Entries must be part of a COMPLETED manuscript that is ready to be pitched to agents. Prior to inclusion in our chapbook we will request the full MS as proof of this. The full MS will not be sent to the judging agents.

  • Entries must be aimed at adult audiences.

  • Entries must be submitted as PDFs.

  • Entrants may only submit a single entry.

  • Entrants will not be able to revise their entries once submitted.

    Entrants must be 18 or over to submit.

    Entrants may reside in any country, but must submit their entries in English.

  • Entrants will not receive any information regarding the reasoning behind why their entry was, or was not chosen.

  • No disputes or communications will be entered into regarding the results of any submissions.

  • We reserve the right to disqualify entrants if we feel they violate the above terms. 

  • Any work found to be plagiarised, hateful, gratuitous, or offensive may be disqualified at our discretion.

Please be respectful of both this competition and our readers. We hope that you enjoy competing, and good luck. For any more information, email Please bear in mind that due to a large number of emails, we may take several days to respond.


Grindstone is proud to work with wonderful sites like Almond Press and Christopher Fielden, which provide invaluable resources to aspiring writers.