EVERY YEAR THE Mystery Writers of America (MWA) and St. Martin’s Minotaur sponsor a mystery novel competition and the winner receives a book contract from St. Martin’s Minotaur. Here is an edited version of the rules for the 2012 contest:
1. The Competition is open to any writer, regardless of nationality, aged 18 or older, who has never been the author of any Published Novel (in any genre). Only one manuscript entry (the "Manuscript") is permitted per writer. To enter, you must first request an entry form by sending an e-mail to: MB-MWAFirstCrimeNovelCompetition@StMartins.com and include the following information:
Name of Entrant, Manuscript Title, Address, Phone.
All requests for entry forms must be received by Minotaur Books by email by November 15, 2011.
Each entrant will receive an entry form by email containing the address of the judge to whom he or she will send (by regular mail or next-business-day delivery service) his or her manuscript. Entries must be postmarked no later than November 30, 2011 and received by judges no later than December 15, 2011 and must include:
a) A double-spaced and neatly typed copy of the manuscript (photocopies are acceptable), with pages numbered consecutively from beginning to end.
b) A letter or cover sheet containing the name, address, email address and telephone number of the entrant and the entrant's previous writing credits, if any.
c) The application form, printed from their email, duly completed, and a self-addressed letter-sized envelope for our response.
d) A digital copy of the manuscript burned to a CD or saved to a USB stick as a Microsoft Word document. All CDs and USB sticks should be marked with the author's name and the title of the manuscript.
3. Entrants must have a valid e-mail address.
4. All Manuscripts submitted: a) must be original works of book length (no less than 220 typewritten pages or approximately 60,000 words) written in the English language; b) must be written solely by the entrant, who may not be the author of any previously Published Novel; c) must not violate any right of any third party or be libelous, and must generally follow the Guidelines below.
a. Murder or another serious crime or crimes is at the heart of the story.
b. WHAT CONSTITUTES A PUBLISHED NOVEL: For the purpose of this Competition, a "Published Novel" means a work of fiction of at least 40,000 words in length that has been published or distributed, in part or whole, in paper or electronic format or in any other medium, excluding, however, self-published works. This does not include a chapter excerpt on an author's website, subject to the conditions that: (i) the excerpt is the only text that exists for public viewing; (ii) the excerpt is not for sale to the public, and (iii) the number of words in the excerpt does not exceed 10% of the total number of words in the work as a whole.
5. If a winner is selected, Minotaur Books will offer to enter into its standard form author's agreement with the entrant for publication of the winning Manuscript. After execution of the standard form author's agreement by both parties, the winner will receive an advance against future royalties of $10,000.
The full set of rules can be found on the MWA website by following this link.