The Black Spring Press Group, based in London, England, celebrates a 40th anniversary this year as Black Spring was founded in 1984. We have published Leonard Cohen, Orson Welles, Carolyn Cassady, Anais Nin, Paul Muldoon and Jan Owen, among others. We are made up of several long-running imprints: Eyewear, Black Spring, Maida Vale and Dexter Haven. We are accepting new work through all our 2024 submission channels. Lee Child is judging our new crime writing prize!


The competition is open to anyone 18 or older anywhere in the world who wants to write in the English-language and has an interest in crime, thriller or mystery novels. Writers can enter as many times as they want.

We are looking for the best 50-250 words of an ‘opening’ for a crime-mystery-thriller novel. The work must be never-before-published (including online), original to the author, and ideally written for this prize. It need not be connected to a completed book. Indeed, we very much hope the prize encourages people to start a novel, with this first page – and maybe go on to complete it. 

The contest opens on JUNE 11 2024 and closes SEPTEMBER 3, 2024. All submission info can also be found at the website; the entry fee is £10 for early bird entries in June and July, and then will rise to £20 in August.

Val McDermid - beloved best-selling Scottish "Tartan Noir" crime author and CWA Diamond Dagger winner - will read and judge the best final 100 entries, and leading crime writer Luca Veste will be the sifting judge for the first stage of the competition.

The winner will be announced in 2024, receive £200, a one-off, hour-long online mentoring session with Luca Veste and be offered a publishing contract if they ever decide to complete the novel. All longlisted, shortlisted, and winning entrants agree to let their submitted work, biography and photo be included in any publicity organised by the press, including granting a license for the work to appear in an anthology of crime opening gambits that may be created, in exchange for a free copy of the work; copyright and ownership of the characters and situations remains with the entrants.

The Black Spring Crime Series was recently endorsed by, among others, giants of crime Val McDermid, Ian Rankin, Lee Child, and Mark Billingham.

This contest series and format is copyright BSPG; and is a way to fundraise to support a small press facing challenging times in the UK cost of living crisis.

Note that immediate family members of those on the BSPG team, and the team themselves, are ineligible to enter.  The contest may be cancelled at the discretion of the organisers for any reason at any time; all monies will be refunded. Should any of the judges be unavailable due to force majeure other judges of equal calibre will step in.

The Black Spring Press Group