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Member only guide to the Australian book industry.
Thanks to a grant from the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund, we are able to offer an award mentorship program for writers and illustrators, to help you develop your work to a publishable standard.
A team of experts will assess all submissions and award the following free mentorship packages to 12 winners in 2023:
One highly commended applicant will receive:
Entries will be accepted in the following genres for writers: fiction (both literary and genre), narrative non-fiction (including autobiography/memoir, essays and histories), journalism, poetry, illustrated and lifestyle non-fiction, young adult literature and children’s writing for all ages.
Illustrator entries will be accepted for children’s picture books and graphic novels.
All writers and illustrators are welcome to apply. In recognition of barriers to access and to encourage diversity in publishing, we are encouraging submissions from:
Successful applicants will work closely with a mentor selected from the ASA Mentors’ Register for 20 hours over one year.
7 December 2022
31 January 2023
22 March 2023
Free for members of the ASA. Not a member? Why not join today!
Non-members may enter but must pay an administration fee of $65 (inc GST) per entry.
1. No paper or email applications will be accepted.
2. Entries must be submitted via the online entry form with the two files attached:
3. Both files must be submitted in Word Document format, in Times New Roman, 12 point, double-spaced with page numbers, the writer’s name and the working title of the work on every page.
4. Entries must comply with the Terms and Conditions.
Entries for the 2023 Award Mentorship Program for Writers and Illustrators closed at 5pm AEDT on Tuesday 31 January 2023.
The recipients of the 2023 Award Mentorships were announced on 22 November 2022. Read about the winners and highly commended entries below.
The Australian Society of Authors (ASA) is thrilled to announce the winners and highly commended entries for the 2023 ASA/CA Award Mentorship Program for Writers and Illustrators!
Picture Book Illustration
This program has been made possible thanks to funding from the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund. The 2023 award offers twelve 20-hour mentorships with an experienced author, illustrator or publishing professional to help develop their manuscript or illustration project to a publishable standard. In addition, the winners each receive access to the Pathways to Publishing program, a free ticket to the ASA’s popular Virtual Literary Speed Dating event and one-year’s free membership to the ASA. One highly commended applicant receives six hours of mentoring on the first ten pages of their manuscript or illustration project, as well as access to the Pathways to Publishing Program.
The ASA received 210 applications for the 2023 award and the winners were selected by a panel of assessors including Broede Carmody, Christopher Cheng, Nigel Featherstone, Fiona McGregor, Kate Ryan and Kristina Schulz. The assessors applauded the wonderfully rich range of applications this year, covering a broad array of writing styles, themes and diverse personal stories. Read their full comments below.
Children’s, YA and Picture Book Illustration
“Pleasing to read a range of writing styles and topics / themes being covered. The creators in general appeared to be considering their intended audience when crafting their texts and the approaches covered with themes as divergent as neurodiversity, the heart, and stone turning plagues. In a number of the submitted works personal experience has provided depth and context to many of the submissions and is revealed in the complexity of the texts presented.
The winning titles chosen are, in the case of the novels, works I wanted to continue to read, or with picture books looking forward to closer exemption of the finished art. They are crafted with skill and attention to detail, whether that be scientific or visual or explanatory …. I would encourage creators when submitting manuscripts to consider taking new and intriguing approaches to their texts as has a been done with some of our winners.
Certainly hope that these creators can absorb and develop all that they can from their mentors and refine and create wonderful publishable works that kids and adults alike will devour.”
“Congratulations to all who entered – the manuscripts were engaging, exciting and full of heart. An amazing mix of fascinating tales of people, places, adventures, friendship, family and love – something for every type of reader. It was a strong list of authors showing their diverse and varied talents and their bravery in telling these stories, putting pen to paper, whether personal or imagined. Plus pressing send – another challenge on the path to publication. I enjoyed reading them all.
If I have any advice to offer, it’s to learn as much as you can about the market you are writing in. Read books, follow social media accounts, connect with authors and publishers and learn about the type of books you want to write. Knowledge is important.
Well done for coming this far and best of luck for the next steps in your writing career.”
“The five writers selected for mentorships in 2023 showed a clear and intriguing core idea, life and risk on the page, and plenty of room for refocussing, or refining, or opening out. All those who submitted work to the program are to be congratulated for their labour to date and their tenacity, and are encouraged to continue seeking ways to develop their projects.
A mentorship program, by design, is aimed at writers who know their work is not yet ready for publication, so it was pleasing to see many displaying a clear-eyed self-reflection i.e. an awareness of their manuscript’s strengths and areas for further development.”
“There was a wonderfully rich range of applicants this year. Political thrillers, campus novels, romantic comedies and historical novels were just some of the broad array of genres on display, and the standard of the writing was very high, making choosing difficult. As always though, the award winning writers’ work gripped from the opening paragraphs, holding my attention with utterly unique voices, which took me with them into whatever world they were writing about.
It was interesting that the winners all wrote acutely about the collision between their protagonists’ interior and exterior worlds. These writers showed great psychological insight to bring to life very different characters in vastly different ways – a twelve year old boy struggling with grief who finds transformation through an unusual friendship; a surgeon who has the ability to see her patients’ internal organs and their pain; a woman confined to her apartment after a life altering accident whose past has informed her in complicated ways; an Afghan veteran attempting to return to life after complex trauma; and a sparky unique fourteen-year-old from Western Sydney who is drawn to collect ‘tiny moment of beauty, weirdness, colour and curiousness’ and who attempts to ‘cure’ her mother after she has been admitted to a psychiatric hospital. These writers approached their subjects in highly original but distinct ways, and though their subject matter could be complex and sometimes dark, brought a lightness of touch to their work. The writing was fresh, original and confident.
I congratulate the winners for their outstanding writing and I am excited to see more of these five writers in the future.”
“The highest scoring application by Dennes was a clear winner and I can imagine it reaching publication. It’s exciting reading work like this – not only well written but also highly relevant, the author not getting in the way of the story, an intrinsic sense of pace and tone.
Most of the entries were memoir, perhaps reflecting the current market; some straddled memoir and non-fiction, without meaning to be a hybrid work– essentially accounts of the lives of close family members. A conscious attempt to write a hybrid work would be exciting; it would also increase applicants’ chances if more care was taken with basic grammar and formatting, considering they are submitting at a high level. The most consistent response I had, to pretty much all the entries, was the need for applicants to read as widely and deeply as possible, and to take their cues from their favourite. To practise analysis in their reading: this is how you activate being taught in the most constructive way possible. Also, venturing off the commercial path more in one’s reading will yield more vibrant and unique writing.”
“The standard of entries this year was incredibly high. A lot of thought had clearly gone into the manuscripts – both in terms of the language on the page, but also the overarching themes and narratives. It was a pleasure to read poets who know how to grab a reader with both hands and make their presence felt long after the final word.
Maureen Alsop’s Arbor Vitae is a concise collection that packs a big punch. The imagery is fresh and concrete. Lines such as “trauma enters/ the body … like water” illustrate a rich engagement with history, science and philosophy. I have no doubt that poetry publishers will jump at the opportunity to transform this manuscript into a fully fledged book.”
The Australian Society of Authors (ASA) is thrilled to announce the winners and highly commended entries for the 2022 Award Mentorship Program for Writers and Illustrators!
The Program has been made possible by the generous funding from the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund. The Award offers twenty-one 20-hour mentorships with an experienced author, illustrator or publishing professional to help develop their manuscript or illustration project to a publishable standard. In addition, the winners each receive access to the Pathways to Publishing program, a free ticket to our popular Virtual Literary Speed Dating event and one-year’s free membership to the ASA. The four highly commended applicants receive a four hours of mentoring on the first ten pages of their manuscript or illustration project, as well as access to the Pathways to Publishing Program.
The ASA received a record-breaking 354 applications for the 2022 award; a 20% increase from last year. The winners were selected by a panel of assessors consisting of Sunil Badami, Brook Emery, Lee Kofman, Kate Ryan, Kristina Schulz, and Erica Wagner. The assessors remarked on the high quality of the applications and diversity of the applicants this year. The assessors have shared their comments below.
“I found the entries engaging and exciting – some full of heart and humour; some full of touching moments – and overall great reading. It was brilliant to see such a variety of themes and topics. I acknowledge the authors who told their own stories, or stories based on their families, as well as those who used their imagination to discover new lands, travel stormy seas or introduce the reader to fun and fantastic new worlds and characters. I loved reading about the different places, characters, adventures and plots outlined within the entries.
What stood out to me were the stories with heart – the ones that gripped me from the very first page. If I have any advice to offer, it’s to know the story you want to tell. Easier said than done sometimes! If you can pitch your story in a lift (advice from a former boss) and have your audience enthralled by the time the lift doors re-open, then you have the reader in the palm of your hand and they have connected with the story you have written.
The quality of entries was particularly high and congratulations to all who entered and those who were successful. It’s a brave choice to share your work and to press send on a submission. Well done for coming this far and best of luck for the next steps in your writing journey.”
– Kristina Schulz
“As a publisher and mentor, I am acutely aware that breakthroughs happen when writers and artists are given the right support at the right time. So I wish it were possible to award mentorships to all those who submitted work for this program. Finding your voice – working out what you want to say and how you want to say it – is a long process with many twists and turns and there is no quick fix to getting published. Butting up against the tastes of publishers, and the commercial realities of the industry can be a rude awakening but can also be galvanising as you seek to find the right form for your creative endeavours. So if you were unsuccessful this time, keep diligently working at your craft, read and read more to develop a critical understanding of the cultural landscape we all inhabit. Then serendipity and inspiration will light up your path.
For the winners, it was a delight to see your skills on show. The submissions that stood out exhibited a flair for language, intriguing story ideas and characters, and something of the ‘x’ factor – an original spark – respecting and connecting authentically to the emotional life and intelligence of young people.”
– Erica Wagner
“Themes of loss and domestic violence were prevalent among this year’s submissions. Dystopia, especially environmental dystopia, was also a recurrent preoccupation of novelists. I was really impressed with how polished, how well crafted, most submitted works were, and how much thought went into fashioning intricate, sophisticated plots. So how do you decide on the winners then, when so much skill is on display?
The writer Kurt Vonnegut once offered the following advice to budding writers: ‘Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.’ I cannot agree more. Best stories have a sense of urgency about them. So when I read fiction, I always ask myself – do I get the feeling that the author really needed to write this story and therefore my reading experience feels urgent too? Of course, this isn’t the kind of question you can answer with any certainty, but I do know well that electric charge, that tension I sometimes feel that drives me to keep reading, when the writer’s urgency infuses the story’s voice and energises its narrative. And more often than not the high stakes are apparent from the beginning, the very first page – it is all in the voice, and the mood it creates, and in the pace of narrative.
As well as high stakes, the strongest entries had richly textured prose. Richly textured prose doesn’t exclusively belong to a particular writing style or genre (the winners were diverse in these respects). Rather, it is prose which isn’t just functional, isn’t just conveying the necessary information, but also prose where almost each sentence makes some interesting observation about the world and/or about the narrator. In other words, this year’s winners are attentive, thoughtful and idiosyncratic storytellers.”
– Lee Kofman
“This year’s Cal/ASA mentorship award was characterised by a very broad range of entries, both in terms of setting, style, plot and voice, and with subjects varying from the apocalyptic, the historical right through to romantic comedy. In an odd prescience, there were several entries featuring the Soviet Union as both a setting and a thematic concern, which gave them a particular intensity considering recent events in Ukraine. It was refreshing to have several entries centralising elderly people, too often ignored as fictional subjects or relegated to minor roles, and endowing them with verve and agency. International settings, including South Korea, Italy and the Soviet Union, also featured, reflecting the fluid (pre-Covid at least) nature of the world today. It was good to see writing which explored the complexity of life in contemporary Australia, including the experiences of marginalised communities. Some entries used autographical events as the starting point for stories which were then transformed into hybrid forms, sometimes from surprising angles and being playful with form. As always, with any subject, a unique and compelling voice is the single, most effective way of bringing a story to life. Successful writers were those whose voices stood out as unique and immediately arresting. It would be valuable for future applicants to bear in mind the importance of a strong voice (over and above a complex setting or plot).”
– Kate Ryan
“Submissions were of a generally good standard, with many entrants displaying a commitment to their craft and work, including entry to competitions, winning prizes, and undertaking creative writing courses and mentorships.
There was a range of intriguing stories, structures and genres within the submitted entries, where the admittedly blurry lines between non-fiction and fiction were often crossed, but also confused, with a number of entries more fictional than non-fictional in parts. Many stories were deeply moving, sometimes hilarious, occasionally surprising and often inspiring. There was very little between many entries, even between those which were long listed and shortlisted, and it was very difficult to determine only one winner.
Having said that, many manuscripts were exceedingly long, and it’s recommended that for future submissions, entrants edit their work to a length of between 70,000 and 80,000 words to ensure maximum possibility of publication.
For those authors who are unsure of their voice or work, it is recommended that they enter their work to prizes or literary journals to gauge its publishability and success, and to build their publishing history. A shorter First Ten Pages mentorship may be more appropriate for them to determine if their work is viable or publishable, and it is recommended that work submitted has been revised beyond first, second or third draft. Enrolling in writing courses or joining writing groups to get immediate feedback will also help to improve and polish work.
Regardless, thank you for sharing your stories and work, and wishing you and your books all the very best success.”
– Sunil Badami
“There were only a small number of applications for the poetry mentorship this year. One application stood out for the depth of its engagement with poetry which was evident in the variety of forms employed, the sense of the line, the fluency of the rhythms, and an ability to develop its subject. Other applications were competent, sincere and enthusiastic but lacked that spark of originality, interest and urgency which would have made them stand out from other competent poets. Too often the poems failed to rise above the level of simple observation or stream of consciousness and were unmediated by the interesting or surprising turn of word and line which make poetry ‘poetry’.”
– Brook Emery
The Australian Society of Authors (ASA) is thrilled to announce the twenty winners and five highly commended entries for the 2021 Award Mentorship Program for Writers and Illustrators!
We are now into the third year of the revised award mentorship program, which has been made possible by the generous funding from the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund. The Award offers twenty 20-hour mentorships with an experienced author, illustrator or publishing professional to help develop their manuscript or illustration project to a publishable standard. In addition, the winners each receive access to the Pathways to Publishing program, a free ticket to our popular Literary Speed Dating event and one-year’s free membership to the ASA. The five highly commended applicants receive a 2-hour consultation on the first ten pages of their manuscript or illustration project, as well as access to the Pathways to Publishing Program.
The ASA received close to 300 applications for the 2021 award; a 20% increase from last year’s entries. The standard of the applications was remarkably high and the assessors noted the diversity in genres and stories that were submitted this year. The assessors have shared their comments below.
Children’s and YA
Picture Book Illustration
“2021 has been another outstanding year. We had a record-breaking number of applications which acknowledges the continued rise in popularity of children’s and YA books. I was impressed with the broad range of topics and themes. We have relatable characters tackling all kinds of issues, including climate change and the recent pandemic. One highlight was the liveable and detailed world-building in each of the entries. I enjoyed being transported to Paris, travelling to an intergalactic planet, and exploring a small town which has been turned upside down by animals on the run.
I was also pleased to see plenty of humour in the entries, particularly in the picture book and children’s writing categories. Even when some middle-grade and YA stories were serious in tone, there were still fragments of light-heartedness. Picture book entries carried a playfulness in words and rhythm that made them ripe for read aloud fun.
The entries that stood out to me had voices that yearned to be heard. They took a familiar story and put their own irresistible spin on it. I wanted to keep reading to see how their dilemmas unfolded, a promising sign that these stories will hook their intended audience.
I am proud to have settled on a top 10 that covers a variety of genres, from science fiction and historical fiction, to contemporary stories that will speak to kids today. I admire the finalists’ steely determination to unearth their manuscripts’ true potential, as well as humility in acknowledging that they seek help because they don’t have all the answers. This mindset will reap rewards in their writing and illustrating journey.”
– Oliver Phommavanh
“I really enjoyed reading these stories. What a range of ideas, styles and approaches. But, creating a shortlist means good writing and ideas will miss out. Please do not think your story was not worthy if you did not make the list. The amount of entries was huge and the quality high.
The stories that shone had strong, intriguing, believable characters from the moment you met them. They got to the point quickly and dispensed with over-explaining or over-writing.
Most ideas were original, most of the writing was engaging, but only in a few stories was the voice clear and strong. Publishers often say they are looking for your style as an author, a voice that is compelling, as well as your great story.
Congratulations to everyone who entered. It takes courage and determination to be a writer and just by entering you have shown yourselves to have both!”
– Deborah Abela
“This year’s applications were diverse, from crime novels and thrillers to historical, literary and speculative fiction, collections of short stories and popular fiction. Making a decision was extremely difficult, as many manuscripts showed much promise, and the dedication and passion of the authors was strikingly evident. It’s wonderfully heartening to see writers continuing to engage with fiction as a way of representing and examining our ever-changing world.
It was very helpful in making these selections to have a well written, clear and comprehensive accompanying 300-word statement, indicating what kind of a book the writer has set out to write (including examples of similar published works) and – this is just as important – what the writer would hope to get out of a mentorship. All of the winning manuscripts were submitted with 300-word statements of a very high quality. Many of these identified the aspects of the manuscript that the author was able to see were not yet working – this bodes well for a fruitful mentorship.”
– Peggy Frew
“When I agreed to be an assessor for the 2021 Australian Society of Authors Mentorship Awards, I had no idea how difficult the task would be. Every single application I read showed promise, dedication and a huge amount of passion, and I was reminded how many fabulous writers there are in Australia. As an author, I’ve trained to avoid cliches, but here’s one anyway: everyone who entered is a winner!”
– Christian White
“The general quality of applications for narrative non-fiction was gratifying. Many of the entries were the outcome of years of persistence and the passion with which the majority of authors pursued their writing was obvious. Those authors who missed out on this year’s awards should not be discouraged from honing their ideas and exploring story-telling techniques. Migration stories and the experience of multiculturalism, often in the form of memoir or autobiography, were the most popular theme in this year’s entries, followed by biographies. Historical non-fiction was a notable absence.
There was little separating the top half-dozen entries which stood out for the quality of their writing and the choice of subject matter. The winning manuscripts were chosen for the strength of their story lines driven by compelling characters and personal experiences. What drew me to the shortlisted entries was their rhythmical prose, the balance between colour and context and their ability to immediately engage with the reader. The confidence apparent in the writing bodes well for further manuscript development and, ultimately, the strong possibility of seeing the works published.”
– John Zubrzycki
“Of the eight applicants for a poetry mentorship three submitted manuscripts which, with a little editing and judicious revision, would be suitable for publication. Each of them had a strong individual voice, a clear understanding of their themes and subjects, and a solid grasp of a poetic line. Clearly, they were familiar with contemporary poetry. Two applicants showed promise in flashes but their manuscripts were of inconsistent quality and needed far more development. The three weaker applicants, though they could write and had ideas, submitted manuscripts which revealed little knowledge of the qualities which made successful poetry.
The poems submitted by the eventual winner were sharp and refreshing; they displayed an easy, unforced and flexible style which was suited to a sense of inquiry and discovery; the ideas were interesting and the lineation confident.”
We are now in the second year of the new Award Mentorship Program, which has been made possible by the generous funding support from the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund. The ASA has been able to offer twenty 20-hour mentorships with an experienced writer, editor or illustrator. In addition, the winners receive a one-year membership to the ASA, a free ticket to our popular Literary Speed Dating event and access to the Pathways to Publishing Program. The Program is a series of industry talks, and discussions with writers and illustrators on a closed Facebook page. The five highly commended winners receive an appraisal on the first ten pages of their manuscript or portfolio, as well as the Pathways to Publishing Program.
This revamped version of the Program has accepted applications from both established and emerging writers so that all writers and illustrators had the opportunity to seek professional development in order to take their skills to the next level.
The ASA received 240 applications this year and the overall standard was very high. We very much appreciate the time and effort given by our wonderful team of assessors, who have shared their comments below.
Winners and Highly Commended
Adult Fiction Winners
Narrative Non Fiction Winners
Children’s, Young Adult, Picture Books Winners
The calibre of this years’ applicants for an ASA Fiction mentorship was so exceptional, it was hard to narrow it down to a handful of winners. I was honoured to spend the time reading through the broad range of entries, ranging from speculative and historical fiction, to literary and experimental manuscripts. Living at a period in time where fact is more often stranger than fiction, these emerging writers provide a unique lens that deepens our understanding and compassion for our battered planet, and for the beings that inhabit its rapidly-changing landscape. We are living through unprecedented times, and now more than ever, we need strong voices that speak with passion, rage and empathy, compelling us to hold on to what it is to be human. I am buoyed by the powerful range of Australian voices on this winners list.
It’s a privilege to judge the ASA mentorships, and also a responsibility. This year, the quality was outstanding. Some work was gorgeous on a sentence level, and I thought a mentorship might help tighten the plot or improve the narrative pace. Other manuscripts were driven by ripping stories but felt flabby on the line or peopled by undeveloped characters. My decisions were based not only on the quality of the manuscript as submitted, but also on its potential to become a substantial and satisfying piece of long-form fiction, regardless of the genre or style. I’d like to commend all the applicants on the originality of their applications this year, and also remind next year’s applicants that it’s impossible to read every manuscript through to the end. The first twenty pages should be as polished as you can make them. The accompanying statement, also, should convey something about why you find this project so compelling. To the unsuccessful writers, I’d urge you to keep working on your manuscripts; there were enough deserving applications to justify three times as many mentorships.
Narrative Non Fiction
While the number of applications for Narrative Non-Fiction was not as high as previous years, the overall quality of submissions this year was an even greater improvement on previous years, with very little to separate winning submissions.
Many applicants have clearly worked on their craft, having completed academic and vocational creative writing courses, workshops and fellowships, as well as having extensive publishing histories, including a number of awards.
Some entries were more suited to self-help than creative, narrative non-fiction, but the most successful submissions brought both journalistic and scholarly rigour and literary imagination to their work.
What distinguished the best applications were not only original ideas, but intriguing premises, innovative structures, distinctive voices and evocative and engaging writing, offering not only glimpses into worlds or lives many of us can barely imagine, but insights relevant to all of us and our world today.
Of the seven applications for a poetry mentorship five were very competently written, interesting, and had the potential to be developed into manuscripts worthy of publication. Two of these stood out, for different reasons. One was a sophisticated, intellectual investigation of its subject, written in a variety of modes, and employing myriad allusions to literature which broadened and deepened the personal nature of this highly developed manuscript. The other, also a personal journey of discovery, was notable for its consistently striking imagery, especially visual imagery, its easy and effective control of the line, the unforced way in which the language enacted the emotions, and the convincing development of the narrative. This was the manuscript which, after much deliberation and not a little anxiety, I chose for the mentorship.
Children’s, Young Adult, Picture Books
It was a very strong crop of entries this year and extremely difficult to reduce to a top ten. For me, the strongest entries dropped us into the middle of things. We landed in the story and we discovered character in action. The best entries showed that the writer really knows what it’s like to be a kid or teen and what might be important to someone of that age. Themes or issues were explored subtly and story and character were primary. The stories gave space for the reader to make their own judgements and to fill in the gaps. They trusted the reader. And, like any good story, they followed the old ’show, don’t tell’ rule. I loved being part of it and I hope that everyone who submitted continues to hone these stories and to write others. Good luck!
There was an impressively wide range of genres, styles and themes explored in this year’s submissions. In the YA category, contemporary realism, historical fiction and speculative fiction were all represented. The children’s category encompassed novels, picture book texts and chapter books, in a variety of fiction genres, but also non-fiction, with picture book illustration in a category of its own. There were many interesting submissions, but the outstanding ones showed a deft command of language and narrative, an engaging voice, and an immersive originality of approach. All the winning and highly commended works were also well-pitched to the age range they were intended for, and the accompanying statements were thoughtful and succinct, with authors having an achievable vision of how the work might further progress under a mentorship.
For the next three years, the new Award Mentorship Program has been made possible by the generous funding support from the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund. The ASA has been able to offer twenty 20-hour mentorships with an experienced writer, editor or illustrator. In addition, the winners receive a one-year membership to the ASA, a free ticket to our popular Literary Speed Dating event and access to the Pathways to Publishing Program. The Program is a series of industry talks, and discussions with writers and illustrators on a closed Facebook page. The five highly commended winners receive an appraisal on the first ten pages of their manuscript or portfolio, as well as the Pathways to Publishing Program.
For the first time, this Program accepted applications from both established and emerging writers so that all writers and illustrators had the opportunity to seek professional development in order to take their skills to the next level.
The ASA received over 300 applications this year, almost double that of previous years, and the overall standard was very high. We very much appreciate the time and effort given by our wonderful team of assessors and these comments from Toni Jordan and Leah Kaminsky summed up the overall feedback:
‘We were especially thrilled with the strong genre writing, and the number of more experimental extracts, and found it a little heartbreaking to have to single out the winners among such a talented and deserving pool of writers. In the end, we paired excellence in the extract with the applicants whom we felt were at a stage in their careers to benefit most from a mentorship with an experienced writer.’
Full comments by the assessors can be read below.
Toni Jordan www.tonijordan.com/
Leah Kaminsky www.leahkaminsky.com
Sunil Badami sunilbadami.com
Brook Emery www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/brook-emery
Children’s, Young Adult and Picture Books
Libby Gleeson http://www.libbygleeson.com.au/
Tristan Bancks www.tristanbancks.com
Adult Narrative Non Fiction Winners
This year, the judges received and considered 115 works of fiction, and we were delighted with the outstanding quality of the large majority of entries. This made the judging process a privilege and a pleasure, but also meant that there were twenty applications on our longlist. We were especially thrilled with the strong genre writing, and the number of more experimental extracts, and found it a little heartbreaking to have to single out the winners among such a talented and deserving pool of writers. Every entry was compelling on its own terms, with voices both intriguing and diverse. In the end, we paired excellence in the extract with the applicants whom we felt were at a stage in their careers to benefit most from a mentorship with an experienced writer.
– Toni Jordan and Leah Kaminsky
The top entries in this category all displayed gripping and evocative writing that immediately engaged the reader. Their subjects were either timely or gave an intriguing glimpse into little known worlds that were both compelling and original.
The work of the 14 applicants for the poetry mentorship varied widely in theme, form and achievement. Themes ranged from personal love lyrics, through landscape poetry, to protest poetry about politics, queer issues, domestic violence and bullying. Most of the poems were in free verse lines of varying lengths but there were some prose poems and some rhymed couplets. The work of the weaker applicants depended too heavily on ‘self-expression’ and allowed the message to overwhelm form. The work of the strongest applicants was controlled, developed and sophisticated. It displayed a sense of the effective deployment of line and image. Choosing between the top three applicants was difficult. What all the poems had in common was enthusiasm and sincerity.
– Brook Emery
Determining the mentorship winners was not an easy task. Many of the writers on the longlist wrote work with original ideas. Their writing was also of a high quality and crossed a number of genres. I have no doubt that there is a potential for publication. Some pieces not chosen in the final ten also have considerable potential for publication. Reading the final twenty entries left me with a strong feeling that there are writers and stories worthy of being selected by publishers for a long time to come. Those writers receiving mentorships are will benefit from the professional help they receive and I wish them well on the path to seeing their books in print.
– Libby Gleeson
I was very impressed by the calibre of submissions. It was difficult to narrow it to a top 20, let alone a top 10. I hope that those writers who weren’t selected for this particular opportunity will continue to wake up, sit down and develop their stories. Many of the excerpts submitted were at a publishable standard or ready to be worked on with an editor. It’s just getting the timing right. I’d recommend having a slate of two, three or four projects in development because you just never know which one will ripen first. Good luck to all the writers and thanks for letting us read your work.
– Tristan Bancks