Submissions to publishers

Many Australian publishing companies now accept unsolicited manuscripts online. Most ask for a synopsis, some information about you, and an extract from your manuscript. If they want to read more, they’ll be in touch with you usually between 6-10 weeks after your initial submission. Check each publisher’s website for guidelines on how to submit.

Allen & Unwin: The Friday Pitch

Pan Macmillan: Manuscript Monday

Penguin Australia: The Monthly Catch (first week of each month)

Hachette Australia (any time):

Random House Australia (any time):

Walker Books Australia (children’s and YA): Walker Wednesday (first Wednesday of each month):


Smaller publishers that accept unsolicited manuscripts include:

Text Publishing:

Affirm Press:

Black Inc/Nero:



Finding a literary agent

A literary agent represents authors and their work to publishing companies (books and magazines), film, theatre, radio and television producers, and other avenues of publication or performance. It’s an agent’s job to make sure their authors are treated fairly and any deal they’re offered is profitable.

Agents work on commission: they take a percentage (agreed upfront) of whatever you earn from writing they sell on your behalf. An agent should not charge you for reading your work or for any editorial advice they offer on your work. However, depending on how much work they consider your manuscript needs, they may recommend you work with an independent editor whose services you would pay for yourself.

The Australian Association of Literary Agents website is a good place to start when looking for an agent in Australia.

There are similar organisations in the US and the UK:

Another useful source of information is The Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook. It’s published annually and lists publishers, agents and other media contacts around the world.


Manuscript development and mentor programs

Queensland Writers’ Centre and Hachette Australia offer the Hachette Manuscript Development Program for writers of fiction and non-fiction for adults (open to writers all around Australia). See or Hachette Australia for details.

Hachette has also just established the South Australian Hachette Mentoring Program, limited to SA writers only. See SA Writers’ Centre Inc for more information.

Varuna, the Writers’ House (Katoomba, Blue Mountains NSW) offers its Publisher Introduction Program, which gives writers the chance to meet and work with editors from a range of publishing houses; as well as various residential creative fellowships.

NSW Writers’ Centre’s Mentorship Program pairs member writers with experienced authors and/or editors.

The Australian Society of Authors offers annual Emerging Writers’ and Illustrators’ Mentorships, and also runs a paid mentorship program for its members.


Writing prizes

The Australian/Vogel Literary Award is for an unpublished manuscript by an Australian writer under 35. The winner is published by Allen & Unwin and receives $20,000 prize money.

The Text Publishing Prize for Young Adult and Children’s Writing is awarded annually to an unpublished manuscript of YA or children’s fiction or non-fiction. Published and unpublished writers of any age are eligible to enter. The winner is published by Text and receives $10,000 prize money.

The Richell Prize for Emerging Writers is a collaboration between Hachette Australia, the Guardian Australia, and the Emerging Writers’ Festival. It’s open to unpublished writers of adult fiction and adult narrative non-fiction, and the winner receives $10,000 in prize money and a year’s mentoring with one of Hachette Australia’s publishers.

Check websites of organisations like the Australian Society of Authors, the Australian Writers’ Centre and your state writers’ centre for latest information on writing competitions and prizes.


Writers’ centres and other organisations

Australian Society of Authors:

New South Wales Writers’ Centre:

Australian Writers’ Centre:

Queensland Writers Centre:

Writers Victoria:

South Australian Writers’ Centre:

ACT Writers Centre:

Tasmanian Writers’ Centre:

Writing WA:

Northern Territory Writers’ Centre:


Books on writing

There are thousands of books on writing. These are some I’ve found useful as an editor, because they give practical advice on the craft of pulling a manuscript together.

Julia Bell & Paul Magrs (eds), The Creative Writing Course Book (Macmillan, 2001) – offers advice on and exercises for writing fiction and poetry, based on the prestigious creative writing program at the University of East Anglia, UK. Covers wide range of subjects, including getting started, plotting and shaping, point of view, revising.

Renni Browne & Dave King, Self-Editing for Fiction Writers (William Morrow Paperbacks, 2004) – packed with excellent advice on topics including point of view, show don’t tell, dialogue mechanics, characterisation, and interior monologue.

Kate Grenville, The Writing Book: A Workbook for Fiction Writers (Allen & Unwin, 1990) – very practical guide to getting started as a writer and keeping going. Includes examples from Australian literature and lots of writing exercises.

Kate Grenville, Writing From Start to Finish (Allen & Unwin, 2001) – guides reader through six steps to producing any kind of written document, from a work report to a university essay to a newspaper or magazine article.

Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life (Anchor Books, 1994) – beautifully written and very funny memoir about writing and teaching writing. Chapters include ‘Getting started’, ‘Shitty first drafts’, ‘Perfectionism’, ‘How do you know when you’re done?’.

Patti Miller, Writing Your Life (Allen & Unwin, 2001) – the definitive Australian guide to memoir/life writing.

Mark Tredinnick, The Little Red Writing Book (UNSW Press, 2006) – accessible and entertaining guide to improving your writing; and The Little Green Grammar Book (UNSW Press, 2008) – essential reading for anyone interested in understanding the building blocks of the English language.

Brenda Walker (ed), The Writer’s Reader: A Guide to Writing Fiction and Poetry (Halstead Press, 2002) – collection of essays by Australian writers and poets on topics as diverse as metaphor in poetry, point of view, narrative modes in the novel, genre fiction, and the writer’s notebook.

K. M. Weiland, Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding Story (ebook); and Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success (ebook) – two very practical and detailed guides that I frequently recommend to writers during the structural editing process. Structuring Your Novel contains chapters on how to begin, how to build to a satisfying ending, and scene structure; while Outlining Your Novel includes advice on how to establish characters’ motives, desires and goals, creating a believable setting, and how to write back story.