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Enter the Virago/The Pool New Crime Writer award


Sarah Savitt, Deputy Publisher at Virago, and Sam Baker, Co-Founder and CEO of The Pool, are thrilled to announce the Virago/The Pool New Crime Writer Award, a competition to find a superlative new female crime writer for Virago – and we want your entries!

With the Virago/The Pool New Crime Writer Award we want to discover an exciting new female writer for the Virago list who is writing a suspenseful, intelligent, original crime or thriller novel.

We were was founded in 1973 to celebrate women’s writing and some of the imprint’s most acclaimed authors, both on the front list and the Virago Modern Classics list, have drawn on the crime and thriller genre, including Daphne du Maurier, Patricia Highsmith, Stella Duffy and Sarah Waters.

The Pool, an award-winning digital platform for women, was launched in 2015 by Sam Baker and co-founder broadcaster Lauren Laverne, with a mission to celebrate women’s voices and produce original, quality content across multiple platforms. The winner will be offered a publishing contract with Virago as well as two hours of mentoring by acclaimed novelist Jill Dawson courtesy of Gold Dust mentoring.

To enter, writers must submit a 5,000-word sample plus a 500-word synopsis. Please submit your proposal to viragoandthepool@littlebrown.co.uk. This will be judged by novelist Erin Kelly, literary agent Jo Unwin, journalist Coco Khan, Scott Free Development Executive Emily Iredale, Sam Baker and Sarah Savitt. Entries must be submitted by 21 May 2017. The winner will be announced in September 2017.

Read full terms and conditions here.


Read our top tips for writing and editing, from authors, agents and editors here:

What editors look for in crime submissions

What agents look for in crime submissions

Six editing exercises for the opening of your novel by Sarah Savitt

Top five things for writers to think about when revising their work by Ruth Tross

Crime author Q&As:

Stella Duffy 

Helen Fitzgerald

Kate Hamer

Frequently Asked Questions

Q Can I enter the competition if I have previously published an academic monograph?

A Yes. 

Q Can I submit a book to the competition which I have previously self-published?

A No. The book you are entering should not have been previously published in any form.

Q Can I enter the competition if I have previously self-published a book which is not the one I am submitting?

A Yes. 

Q Do I need to have finished my novel to enter the competition?

A No. We are only asking for 5,000 words of a novel plus a 500-word synopsis.

Q If I am submitting a work in progress, when would the deadline to finish the novel be?

A We would negotiate a deadline for completion but would hope that you would submit a full draft within a year after winning the competition.

About the judges:

Sam Baker grew up in Hampshire and studied politics at Birmingham University before embarking on a successful twenty-year career in magazine journalism, during which she edited some of the UK’s biggest magazines, including Cosmopolitan and Red. In 2015, she co-founded and launched The Pool, with broadcaster Lauren Laverne. An award-winning digital platform for women, the Pool has a mission to celebrate and amplify women’s voices. Sam is also the author of five novels, the most recent of which is the psychological thriller, The Woman Who Ran.

Emily Iredale is Development Executive for Scott Free, the London branch of Ridley Scott’s TV company, and is currently developing a range of dramas and comedies for television. She has previously worked at Kindle Entertainment and Spun Gold TV. An avid reader throughout her life, being employed to read books, scripts and pitches on a day to day basis is her dream job. Spot her name in the credits of Scott Free’s series Taboo for BBC One & FX, co-produced with Hardy Son & Baker, written by Steven Knight and starring Tom Hardy.

Erin Kelly is best known for her debut The Poison Tree, which was a major ITV drama and a Richard and Judy bestseller. She is the author of three more acclaimed psychological thrillers, and was chosen to write the novelisation of the Bafta-winning Broadchurch. Erin also works as a freelance journalist and creative writing tutor. Her next novel is He Said/She Said is out in April. Erin lives in North London.

Coco Khan was born, and lives, in London where she currently works as a journalist for The Guardian. She is also a regular contributor to The Independent and New York Magazine among others, and is editor-at-large with youth publication, Complex. Her essay, ‘Whose Voice Is It Anyway?: Ethnicity and Authenticity in the Arts’, appeared in Counterculture UK in 2015. Most recently, her short fictional memoir, ‘Flags’, featured in The Good Immigrant (2016), and won individual praise from The SpectatorVice and the BBC. The piece was subsequently serialized in Emerald Street and adapted for BBC Radio 4’s Book of the Week. She is currently working on her first book.

Sarah Savitt is currently Deputy Publisher at Virago. Previously she worked at Headline, Faber and David Godwin Associates. Authors she has published include Louise Doughty, Kate Hamer, Sara Pascoe, Maria McCann, Karen Rose, Owen Sheers and Hanif Kureishi. She has also taught for Arvon, Faber Academy and Guardian Masterclasses.

Jo Unwin wrote for TV (Byker Grove, My Parents are Aliens) and acted in theatre, commercials (remember ‘We Want to be Together‘ ?) and TV (mostly comedy: Fry and Laurie, Lee and Herring,  a series of Casualty). But then one day she had the blinding insight that what she really loved was talking about, and being around, was books.  So she became a scout for Aardman Features and went to work at a bookshop. She joined Conville and Walsh Literary Agency in 2008 and was in a shortlist of three for the Bookseller Industry Awards Literary Agent of the Year in 2010, and was picked out as one of the Bookseller’s Rising Stars in 2011. She has now set up JULA ltd, based at Somerset House.