Crime writing Comp no text CTA 3x2

To make up for the disappointment of cancelling this year’s Golden Age of Crime Weekend at the Park Inn Palace Hotel in Southend-on-Sea, Essex Book Festival has decided to run a special crime writing short story competition. After all, who knows if the next Dorothy L. Sayers, Margery Allingham or Martina Cole is waiting in the wings!

Our judges include Seona Ford (Chair of Dorothy L. Sayers Society, Chair of Essex Book Festival), Tony Fisher (BBC Essex presenter), and Camilla Shestopal (Literary Agent, Trustee of Essex Book Festival).

The competition is open from 1st April 2020.


1st Prize
A free mentoring session with literary agent Camilla Shestopal and writer Samantha Lee Howe, plus publication on Essex Book Festival website.

Highly Commended x 3
Publication on Essex Book Festival website.


The competition is open to writers of any nationality writing in English, aged 16 and over. Entries must not have been published, self-published, published on any website, blog, online forum, or broadcast.


Please ensure you follow the rules outlined below carefully before entering the competition. Entry implies acceptance of all the rules, and failure to comply may result in disqualification. All entries are judged anonymously. We will disqualify entries if they are named or over the word limit.

The competition is limited to one story per person. Entries should be sent via email to: Entries will be confirmed on receipt. Please check your spam folder as emails can land there. It is NOT possible to confirm receipt of entries by phone. Also, please check you are submitting the correct version of your work before uploading, as mistakes cannot be rectified later.


The deadline date for entries is 30th May 2020.


1500-words maximum. No minimum.


  • Add the word count to the top right of the first page.
  • Do not add cover or title pages
  • Use any font, 12pt, black
  • Number the pages in the centre at the bottom of the page
  • Save the file as a Microsoft Word document. PDF files also accepted
  • The file name should be the title of the story only, e.g. Murder On The Orient Express. Do not include your name in the file title


The judges’ decision is final and no individual correspondence can be entered into. Judges are unable to comment on individual entries.


Worldwide copyright of each entry remains with the author but Essex Book Festival has unrestricted rights to publish the winning story and highly commended stories on its website.

Results and Awards

The winner and highly commended entrants will be notified by email 20th July 2020.

Good luck!