The Harvill Secker-Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Award 2021

A red-and-white image with text advertising the Harvill Secker and Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Award 2021

Harvill Secker and Bloody Scotland are once again teaming up to find the most exciting new crime fiction by writers of colour.

The prize will be judged by the author of debut novel The Waiter, and the winner of the inaugural competition, Ajay Chowdhury; journalist Paula Akpan; Words of Colour’s Creative Producer Heather Marks and Harvill Secker Editorial Director Jade Chandler.

The winner of the Harvill Secker-Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Award will have their book published under the Harvill Secker imprint, in a publishing deal with an advance of £5,000. The prize package will also include a panel appearance and guest pass at the Bloody Scotland festival. The Arvon Foundation is also supporting the competition as a sponsor, and are offering the winner the invaluable chance to attend any one of their creative writing courses for free.

Entrants to the competition must submit the first 5,000 words of their crime novel, along with a full plot outline.

Please note that the deadline for entries has now been extended until 3 October 2021, with the winner announced in November 2021.

If you have any difficulty submitting your entry via the form below please email



The Harvill Secker-Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Award is held in partnership with:

  • Bloody Scotland - Scotland’s International Crime Writing Festival
  • The Reading Agency
  • The Arvon Foundation


Harvill Secker Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Competition



1. By entering this competition, entrants agree to accept and be bound by these terms and conditions.

2. This competition is open to anyone of a Black, Asian, or Minority Ethnic background aged 18 or over who is a resident of the UK or Republic of Ireland, except for the employees (and their families) of the Penguin Random House Group and any other company connected with the competition.

3. The closing date for the competition is 23:59 GMT on Sunday 3 October 2021.

4. To enter, entrants must submit an entry consisting of the first 5,000 words of their novel in the English language, and a full synopsis of the work in the English language of no more than 600 words. All entries to be submitted via the Penguin UK website at Entrants will be required to submit their full name and contact details (including their home and email address).

5. Entrants may only submit one entry to the competition.

6. All entries must be original, previously unpublished works of crime or thriller fiction. This can range from, but is not exclusive to, police procedural, psychological thriller, historical crime and thriller, adventure thriller, espionage etc.

7. Entrants must not have previously written a novel published under a valid ISBN. This includes novels that have been self-published or are only available as eBooks.

8. Entrants must not be currently represented by a literary agent.

9. Entries that are received after the closing date will not be considered. The Promoter is not responsible for illegible, incomplete, delayed or lost entries.

10. The Promoter regrets that neither the Promoter, the sponsors nor the competition judges can enter into correspondence or give feedback on individual entries.

11. All valid entries will be forwarded to a judging panel. The judges will choose one winner who shall be notified by 8 November 2021. The winner shall be that entry which, in the sole opinion of the judges, is the best.

12. The decision of the judges is final. No correspondence will be entered into.

13. All unsuccessful entries will be deleted from the entry system.

14. The winner’s prize is:

  • an offer of publication by the Promoter in respect of the novel to which their entry relates;
  • the chance to attend any one of The Arvon Foundation’s writing courses (which may be virtual or in person) or writing retreats (if available) in 2021 / 2022, with course expenses to be paid by The Arvon Foundation;
  • a panel appearance at the Bloody Scotland festival in the year of publication of their novel, including travel expenses and accommodation expenses for the winner only on the evening of the event.


Notwithstanding anything else set forth in these terms and conditions if, in the sole opinion of the Promoter, none of the entries (including that of the winner) are of a sufficiently high standard to merit the winner’s prize, such prize shall not be awarded but shall instead be substituted with ten (10) books of the winner’s choice which are published in the UK by the Promoter.


The winner must claim their prize within 5 days of the Promoter sending notification. If the prize is unclaimed after this time, it will lapse and the Promoter reserves the right to offer the unclaimed prize to a substitute winner selected in accordance with these rules.

15. All entrants must be in a position to deliver their complete manuscript no later than 1 October 2022 should they win.  

16. Publication is subject to the winner entering into a contract with Harvill Secker, an imprint of the Promoter. This will afford an exclusive licence to the Promoter, permitting the editing, adapting, publishing and licencing of all or part of the novel in all editions, formats (including print and electronic), in all languages and territories globally and setting out all applicable financial details including a net advance of £5,000 on completion and acceptance (by Promoter) of the complete manuscript and providing the Promoter with an option over a second book. Should entrants not want to grant these rights they should not submit materials. In the event an agreement cannot be reached, as regards the contract, within 30 days of the discussions commencing, the winner shall instead be awarded the substitute prize.

17. The prize is otherwise non-transferable and no cash-alternative or other substitute is available. With respect to the The Arvon Foundation’s writing courses and the panel appearance at the Bloody Scotland festival in the year of publication of the winner’s novel, in the event that the winner cannot make the relevant dates no alternative dates will be possible and the Promoter reserves the right to offer such prizes to a substitute winner.

18. Notwithstanding anything set forth above, the Promoter reserves the right to choose the most appropriate format for the novel on publication. The Promoter will seek to publish the winning work within twelve months of acceptance of the manuscript.

19. By entering this competition each entrant confirms that: (i) their entry is their wholly-owned creation and makes no use of any third party materials or intellectual property rights; (ii) no deliberate attempt has been made to base any fictional characters in the novel upon any individual, living or dead; and (iii) the submitted materials contain nothing that is illegal, obscene or of a defamatory nature. Entrants will keep the Promoter and the Promoter harmless from any claims that the entry infringes the personal or proprietary right of any other person. 

20. Prizes are subject to availability. In the event of unforeseen circumstances, or any change of circumstances relating to the Covid-19 pandemic assessed by the Promoter as adversely affecting fulfilment of the prize in any way, the Promoter reserves the right (a) to substitute alternative prizes as determined by the Promoter at its sole discretion provided that the total monetary value of any alternative prize(s) is equivalent to or greater than that of the original prize; and (b) in exceptional circumstances to amend or foreclose the promotion without notice. No correspondence will be entered into

21. We will make the winner’s name and county available on request to the following email address (please state the name of the competition in the subject heading, within 10 weeks after the closing date).  If you do not want your name and county to be made available in the event that you win, please let us know by emailing Please note we are required to make the winner’s details available to the ASA if requested.

23. The Promoter may disqualify any entrant whose entry does not comply with these terms or whose actions, in the Promoter’s or the Promoter’s determination, are fraudulent, dishonest, criminal or unjust to other entrants. 

24. By entering this competition, all entrants agree to the use of their personal data by the Promoter for the purposes of running the competition as detailed in these terms and conditions.  Details on how we process the personal data of entrants can be found in our Privacy Policy (

25. These terms are governed by the laws of England.

26. Promoter: The Random House Group Limited of 20 Vauxhall Bridge Road, London SW1V 2SA. Any prize queries should be addressed The Random House Group Limited at the address above.

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