Killer Women is launching a new initiative to support emerging female crime writers from BAME and working-class backgrounds.

The scheme offers the opportunity for four women seeking to write crime fiction to be expertly mentored, from synopsis to first draft manuscript, by four published authors at the top of their game.

We are very excited to read your work. But we would like you to read our guidelines really carefully before submitting.

Please scroll down to read our guidelines, terms and conditions and submission forms.

Applications for the Killer Women will be accepted from 9am (GMT) on 10th April 2019 to 9am (GMT) on 1st July 2019.


  • A year's free mentoring by an experienced, published crime writer, taking the mentee from synopsis to first draft manuscript.
  • Two tickets to the Killer Women Festival of Crime Writing and Drama in London in March 2020 (worth approx £100); a great opportunity to network with leading crime writers, publishers, editors and agents. UK travel and accommodation to be paid where appropriate.
  • The Good Literary Agency will read and comment on mentees’ work.
  • A commissioning editor from HQ, an imprint of HarperCollins, will read and comment on mentees’ work with a view to possible publication.
  • Exclusive workshops from The Good Literary Agency, Anne Cleeves and others.


Each mentor will read work in progress, and offer advice and support, including up to 12 hours of one-to-one contact time.


The Killer Women 2019 Mentoring Scheme is open to UK women (18+) from BAME and/or working class backgrounds who have the ambition to write a full-length novel in the crime, psychological thriller or suspense genres. Entry is free. Entries are only accepted via the entry form below.


Ann Cleeves: ‘’I’m all for this Killer Women initiative to encourage and support underrepresented voices in crime fiction.’

Martina Cole: ‘It’s nearly thirty years ago but I can vividly remember how nervous I was at my first meetings with my publisher Headline; this was a completely new and alien world to me and although I’d daydreamed for years about becoming a successful author, it took me a very long time to build up the confidence to do something about it, my friends would say “working class people like us don’t write books”.

Publishing has changed enormously since then and there are more authors from diverse backgrounds being published, but I know to many writers trying to break through it can still seem like an intimidating industry which is why the Killer Women Mentoring Scheme is so timely and I am delighted to support it’.

Val McDermid: ‘I grew up in a working-class home, well aware that people like me didn’t become writers. I was lucky enough to break out thanks to a first rate — free — university education, but when I started writing, I knew nobody in the publishing business.

Restricting access impoverishes our culture, and I’m delighted and excited at this initiative from the accomplished and innovative Killer Women. I can’t wait to read the results!’

J. K. Rowling writing as Robert Galbraith: ‘For me, writing crime fiction behind the pseudonym Robert Galbraith was a way to ensure that my books be judged on the merit of the writing alone, but I know how hard it is when you first hit the scene as an unrecognised author.

I’m supporting the Killer Women mentoring scheme, because it helps open doors to new and as yet undiscovered voices in crime fiction, from backgrounds that often find it hard to break through.’



Sign up for our free Killer Women Crime Club to discover the latest criminally good writing including exclusive giveaways, sample chapters, reading recommendations, writing tips and early bird festival tickets.


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