Previous Killer Nashville Claymore Award winners who are now published.

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  • Enter The Killer Nashville Claymore Award

The Killer Nashville Claymore Award is presented at the annual Killer Nashville Awards Dinner.

Created in 2009, the Killer Nashville Claymore Award assists new and rebranding English-language fiction authors to get published, including possible agent representation, book advances, editor deals, and movie and television sales.

WHAT CAN BE ENTERED?
The contest is limited to only the first 50 double-spaced pages of unpublished English-language manuscripts containing elements of thriller, mystery, crime, or suspense NOT currently under contract.

These can include Action, Adventure, Alternate History, Fantasy, Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi, Speculative, Suspense, Thriller, and Western manuscripts, and any of their derivatives. (Self-published manuscripts are considered already published and are not eligible.) If you think you’ve got a good story on your hands, we want to see it!

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
Entry fee is $40 per entry.

If you’d also like feedback on your work from industry professionals, we offer critiques of the entire 50-page manuscript for an additional $100. Critiques are only available to paid entrants. Authors are welcome to resubmit new drafts of altered entries up until the deadline of April 1, 2020. A separate charge will be assessed for each entry. Authors may submit more than one manuscript. All manuscripts are to be submitted as .doc or .docx files. and should be double-spaced with 12pt Times New Roman font and standard margins. All submitted files should be named in the following format:

YearMonthDay__Title of Manuscript (Example: 20201012_My Great Book)

Please do not include any contact information on the manuscript itself, as entries are judged blindly. You may include contact information on a cover page, should you choose to include one (cover pages are not required).

WHO JUDGES?
A jury of publishing and writing professionals within each genre chooses the Top 20 Finalists through a blind judging process. 

Finalist manuscripts will be sent to a committee of professional editors and publicists they will select the Top 3 Finalists. The Top 3 Killer Nashville Claymore Award Winners will be announced at the annual Killer Nashville Awards Dinner during the Killer Nashville Conference. Attendance at the event is not required to win.

What Do I Win?
Probably a traditional publishing contract with a Mystery Writers of America and/or International Thriller Writers-approved publisher. While we cannot guarantee that winners and finalists of this award will receive publication, dozens of winners & runners-up of the Claymore award have gone on to find great success in their careers and many of them attribute that success to this award. But there’s more…

The Top 3 finalists receive heavily discounted admission (a $285 value!) to that year’s Killer Nashville where the winners will be announced and introductions will be made to agents and/or editors to kick-start their publishing careers. Critiques of work will be given. Breakouts will be attended. Pitching sessions will be set up. The Top 3 who are already registered as Killer Nashville attendees will be refunded a portion of their registration fees for that year. Top 3 Finalists do not have to be present to win but will miss out on all networking opportunities.

Any manuscripts considered of exceptional merit above the Top 20 will also be forwarded to agents and/or editors.

Winnings are not transferable and must be redeemed in the year they are won. All entries remain eligible as long as they were not under contract at the time of submission. There are no refunds for any reason.

Winning the Claymore Award is not only a great honor, it also provides a terrific confidence boost for any author. Every writer seeks approval from his or her peers, and capturing the Claymore Award rings the bell of their approval. Definitely the highlight of my professional writing career.” —Tom Wallace, author of Gnosis

“Because of Killer Nashville, I now have a contract with Five Star Publishing for my cozy, Animal, Vegetable, Murder. I couldn’t be happier.” —Judy Dailey, author of Animal, Vegetable, Murder

“Juried awards like the Claymore are incredible in that they are judged by publishers, agents, and authors. It’s a wonderful stamp of approval as I seek out the best home for my book. Winning the Claymore builds confidence and it looks ridiculously cool on my bookshelf! I’m stunned and grateful.” —Michael F. Stewart, The Boy Who Swallows Flies

“Being chosen as a Claymore finalist gave me the confidence to push forward with my novel. It has also given me the distinction of being known as a finalist, something I am proud to include in my author credentials. For anyone who is on the fence about entering, I encourage you to go forward. See what happens.” — Laura Oles, Daughters of Bad Men

“ Just being named a finalist had given me a boost of confidence, and the conference itself had been incredibly insightful and encouraging […] I wanted people who would love [my character] like I did, people who would champion Bohemian Gospel, people who would walk me through the process and treat me like a partner in that process rather than just as a product to be sold. I especially had my eye on Pegasus Books. And then, thanks to the Claymore, they had their eye on me.” — Dana Chamblee Carpenter, Bohemian Gospel, The Devil’s Bible, Book of the Just

So, what’s it like to win a Claymore Award? Just ask our 2019 winner Joseph Simurdiak, who recounts his experience in the articles below:

Killer Nashville, Part 1: Finalist

Killer Nashville, Part 2: The Claymore Award