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Member only guide to the Australian book industry.
The Australian Society of Authors is delighted to be working in partnership with HQ, a division of HarperCollins, to offer the biennial ASA/HQ Commercial Fiction Prize.
The Prize honours a tradition that reaches back thousands of years: storytelling. It is seeking the best of commercial fiction: vibrant writing that entertains, enlightens, and provokes lively water-cooler conversations.
The winner will receive a publishing contract with HQ, with a $10,000 advance against royalties, and the runner-up will receive $500 and a year’s membership with the ASA.
The inaugural prize, announced in 2020, launched the careers of three debut Australian authors. The genre-bending gothic drama Sargasso by shortlisted author Kathy George published to incredible reviews in February 2021. In June 2021, the contemporary romance by shortlistee Stella Quinn, The Vet from Snowy River, debuted at #4 on the local bestseller charts. And the inaugural prize winner Sally Bothroyd with her twisty, hip, and distinctly Australian mystery, Brunswick Street Blues, publishes March 2022.
Entering the prize can be a fabulous opportunity for any debut commercial fiction writer.
The ASA/HQ Commercial Fiction Prize is due to open for entries again in late 2023. This page will be updated as soon as the dates for the 2024 Prize have been confirmed.
Please find below the information for the 2022 Prize.
Prize opens for submissions
22 September 2021
Prize closes for submissions
1 November 2021, 5pm AEDT
Shortlist and winner announced
The Prize is for a novel (book-length work of commercial fiction) not previously published. Non-fiction, erotica, fantasy, science-fiction, young adult/children’s, horror, poetry or plays are NOT eligible for entry.
Applications will be asked to provide three documents:
Files must be submitted in Word Document or PDF format, in Times New Roman, 12 point, double-spaced with page numbers and the working title of the work on every page.
Full submission information can be found in terms and conditions.
Submissions that do not meet the terms and conditions will be deemed ineligible.
ASA Member: First submission FREE.
ASA Member: Subsequent submissions $25.
Non-Member submission fee $65.
On 9 March 2022, the Australian Society of Authors (ASA) and HQ, a publishing division of HarperCollins, announced the shortlist:
Lydia Evans, Someone Else
Ayesha Inoon, Untethered
Inessa Jackson, Next of Kin
Jo Mackay, Head of Publishing for HQ said, ‘We are delighted to partner with the Australian Society of Authors to bring forward some of the best new voices in commercial fiction. There were some truly exceptional entries this year, we struggled to get the shortlist down to only four. They are all impressive manuscripts.’
ASA CEO, Olivia Lanchester said, ‘We have been thrilled by the tremendous response we’ve had to the prize once again this year, and are so impressed by this exceptional shortlist. Our warm thanks to HQ for offering this publishing opportunity.’
23 March 2022
The Australian Society of Authors (ASA) and HQ, a division of HarperCollins Publishers, are delighted to announce that Ayesha Inoon has won the 2022 ASA/HQ Commercial Fiction Prize for unpublished manuscripts with her work Untethered.
Untethered is a finely observed contemporary novel of a young Muslim woman’s experience of immigration to Australia, leaving behind the political unrest of Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Ayesha Inoon is a Sri Lankan–Australian writer and former journalist who has lived in Sri Lanka, Egypt, India, the USA and Canada. She based the novel in part on her own experience.
Ayesha said, ‘I have carried this book in my heart for so long, and writing it was a way to explore and understand my own experience of immigration and what it meant to recreate a sense of identity and belonging in a new country. We immigrate in search of better lives and freedom from conflict and we don’t fully understand what we are leaving behind until we are on the other side. I am excited to work with HQ on the next stage of this journey and would like to thank both ASA and HQ for this fabulous opportunity. And many congratulations to the other shortlisted authors.’
As the winner of the prize, Ayesha will receive a publishing contract with HQ and a $10,000 advance against royalties. The book will be published in 2023.
Head of Publishing for HQ Jo Mackay said, ‘A standout in an already strong field, Untethered is thoughtful, insightful writing that brings readers the lived experience of what it is to lose family, friends and country and start again in a new and not always welcoming place.’
ASA CEO Olivia Lanchester said, ‘Our warm congratulations to Ayesha Inoon! We are thrilled to be able to partner with HQ to offer this opportunity, and we wish Ayesha all the very best success with her book.’
The runner up is Someone Else by Lydia Evans, a funny, authentically voiced novel of a woman’s struggle to be the perfect mother, wife, friend and daughter that others expect her to be. Lydia will receive $500 and a year’s membership of the ASA.
The competition received nearly 200 entries, showcasing a wide array of uniquely Australian and New Zealand voices. HQ publishers shortlisted the top three manuscripts, which also included Next of Kin by Inessa Jackson, a mystery & crime novel where a Red Cross doctor returns to her small Australian beach town to uncover the truth to her brother’s disappearance.
The ASA/HQ Commercial Fiction Prize is biennial and open to all Australian fiction writers. The next competition will open in September 2023.
On March 10 2020, the ASA and HQ Fiction were delighted to announce the shortlist for the Prize:
The winner of the inaugural ASA/HQ Commercial Fiction Prize for unpublished manuscripts was Brunswick Street Blues by Sally Bothroyd.
Described as a compelling and distinctively Australian mystery set on the mean streets of Melbourne, Brunswick Street Blues will be published by HQ Fiction in March 2022. The author Sally Bothroyd is a director of the Northern Territory Writers Centre and former journalist. Sally commented:
‘Writing a novel is such a huge journey, and I’m looking forward to working with HQ on the final stretch! I’m so excited to win this award, and I want to congratulate the other authors who were shortlisted. Thanks also to the ASA for partnering with HQ to offer this opportunity to unpublished authors.’
The runner-up is Nina and Pearl by Fleur Glenn, a meditative and evocative story of love, loss and difficult decisions.