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The Claymore Award
The Claymore Award -
Sponsored by Killer Nashville


Jacob M. Appel"Being a Claymore finalist was a game-changing event in my literary career. I had already published three books, but thanks to Killer Nashville, I landed the agent of my dreams and my newest manuscript has received attention I never thought possible. Most important, individuals whom I met at Killer Nashville have helped generate a buzz for my most recent novel, The Biology of Luck, that I could never have managed to create on my own. All in all, Killer Nashville is one of the best experiences for an aspiring writer available today."

Jacob M. Appel, Claymore Finalist with The Man Who Trounced God at Chess (August 2013)


Joan Lipinsky Cochran"Above and beyond the boost of confidence the Claymore finalist award gave me, it opened the doors for many more agents to view The Yiddish Gangster’s Daughter, my crime novel. Although it’s only been six months, I’ve received requests from six New York and California-based agents for the entire manuscript and requests to send it to three others if these people don't sign me on. I am confident becoming a finalist gave my work the legitimacy these agents sought. Who knows what will happen with The Yiddish Gangster’s Daughter? I’m more optimistic and motivated now than I was prior to receiving the award. And I have many warm memories of the encouraging and extremely nice (is it a southern hospitality thing?) people at Killer Nashville."

- JOAN LIPINSKY COCHRAN, author of The Yiddish Gangster’s Daughter


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The Prestigious Claymore Award




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What You Win

Over $3,000 in prizes, plus possible book advance and book publication, plus possible agent representation

What Manuscripts Will be Considered

Judges will consider any subgenre of mystery or thriller. Enter the first 50 pages of any unpublished literature in the following genres:

Action Drama Literary Spy
Adventure Dystopian Middle Grade Steampunk
Children’s Erotica Mystery Suspense
Comedy Faith Based Paranormal Thriller
Cozy Fantasy Police procedural Urban Fantasy
Crime Gangster Political thriller Western
CSI Historical Private eye Women’s Fiction
Dark Fantasy Horror Romantic Suspense Young Adult (YA)
Detective Legal Science Fiction (Sci-Fi)  

What It Must Have

The story must have a mystery, thriller, or suspense element: a crime must have been committed that needs detecting, a crime is about to be (or threatened to be) committed, or foreboding danger must be in place.

Who Would Publish my Book

Only publishers appearing on the Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers approved publishers list are recommended. We will not connect you with a publisher not appearing on one of these lists.

How it Works

Any author may enter (published or not); however, the contest is limited to only unpublished manuscripts not currently under contract.

Ten finalists are chosen through a blind judging process. The winner will receive an engraved replica of a Claymore Dagger, free admission to the current year's Killer Nashville, and more. The top ten finalists also receive prizes. Any manuscript of exceptional merit deemed ready for submission will be recommended by Killer Nashville to agents, editors, and publishers regardless of placement in the contest.

The winner will be announced at the awards ceremony during the Guest of Honor dinner & Awards Banquet on the Saturday evening of the conference. After the conference, those who requested a critique will receive one from the judges.

To attend the awards ceremony, you must purchase tickets for the Guest of Honor Dinner. Register for Killer Nashville and the Guest of Honor Dinner here. The top three finalists will be reimbursed the cost of his/her ticket.

The History

In 2006, the Killer Nashville Conference was formed with one of its primary objectives to be helping writers advance their careers. In 2009, Killer Nashville founder Clay Stafford created the Claymore Award to further that goal by offering aspiring authors a path to publication. Click here to read more about Killer Nashville – A Conference for Thriller, Suspense, & Mystery Writers and Lovers.



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Killer NashvilleSince 2006, Killer Nashville® has become THE conference for mystery, thriller, and crime fiction authors and fans. Located in Nashville, Tennessee, the Killer Nashville Writers' Conference is held the third full weekend of every August. Killer Nashville® attracts bestselling authors from across the U.S., Canada, and beyond, plus scores of fans and budding authors. Sponsored by numerous national organizations, attendees have included authors, screenwriters, playwrights, filmmakers, fans, attorneys, editors, agents, and publishers.  > Learn more
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