Jennifer Down, Rajith Savanadasa, Julie Koh and Josephine Rowe have been named Sydney Morning Herald Best Young Australian Novelists for 2017.

The awards, which recognise emerging writing talent, are open to writers aged 35 years or younger when their books are first published.

This year’s awards were judged by SMH arts and books writer Linda Morris, author Michelle de Kretser and deputy director of the University of Western Sydney’s Writing and Society Research Centre Matt McGuire.

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Photo of Julie Koh courtesy of Hugh Stewart

Macquarie University has published a report examining Australian book readers, the third and final stage of its three-year research project on Australia’s changing book industry.

The book readership stage of the research project surveyed just under 3000 Australians, and was conducted in partnership with the Australia Council for the Arts, which provided additional funding and collaboration.

As with the previous two stages of the research project, which examined how authors and publishers are responding to global change, this stage investigates how book readers are changing their reading habits as they adopt new technologies. In particular, the survey explores how the advent of ebooks, online book retailing and social media have affected the ways in which Australians interact with books and engage in reading.

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Retailer David Jones has launched a fundraising campaign with former AFL footballer Adam Goodes to increase awareness of the Indigenous literacy gap and raise money for the Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation (ALNF).

David Jones is donating 10% of each book purchased from 22-29 May to ALNF, with the money to fund an Indigenous literacy program. The retailer has also collaborated with the Byron Bay Cookie Company to produce a charity biscuit that will be available at every David Jones point-of-sale, with two dollars from each sale going to ALNF.

The campaign is also being promoted on the David Jones website.

In a statement, Adam Goodes said: ‘Being able to read and write is a basic human right, and yet Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are three times less likely to meet the national minimum literacy and numeracy standards. ALNF educates the teachers and aunties, enabling the community to help itself, and in doing so, enables generations of our children to write their own bright future.’

The winners of the 2017 Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIAs) were announced in Sydney on 25 May:

General fiction book of the year

  • The Dry (Jane Harper, Macmillan)

Literary fiction book of the year

  • The Last Painting of Sara de Vos (Dominic Smith, A&U)

General nonfiction book of the year

  • The Road to Ruin (Niki Savva, Scribe)

Biography of the year

  • Working Class Boy (Jimmy Barnes, HarperCollins)

Book of the year older children (8 to 14 years)

  • The Bone Sparrow (Zana Fraillon, Lothian)

Book of the year for younger children (0 to 8 years)

  • The 78-Storey Treehouse (Andy Griffiths, illus by Terry Denton, Pan)

Illustrated book of the year

  • Penguin Bloom: The Odd Little Bird Who Saved a Family (Cameron Bloom & Bradley Trevor Greive, ABC Books)

International Book of the Year

  • Commonwealth (Ann Patchett, Bloomsbury)

Matt Richell Award for new writer of the year

  • Fight Like a Girl (Clementine Ford, A&U)

Small publishers’ adult book of the year

  • The Australian Native Bee Book (Tim Heard, Sugarbag Bees)

Small publishers’ children’s book of the year

  • My Sister is a Superhero (Damon Young & Peter Carnavas, UQP)

Audiobook of the year

  • The 78-Storey Treehouse (written by Andy Griffiths, read by Stig Wemyss, Bolinda).

Author Di Morrissey was presented with the Lloyd O’Neil Award for service to the Australian book industry, and literary agent Margaret Connolly received the Pixie O’Harris Award for service to Australian children’s literature.

The NSW Premier’s Literary Awards were announced on Monday 22 May at the State Library of NSW, with a total of $300,000 offered across 13 prizes. NSW Premier, The Hon. Gladys Berejiklian MP said: “The diversity of tonight’s winners is impressive, both in terms of the writers’ backgrounds and the subject matter of the works. It reflects the outstanding and continuous achievements of the Australian literary community.”

According to Senior Judge, Suzanne Leal: “Australian literature is in fine form. This is confirmed by strong shortlists in each category of this year’s Awards and winning entries that explore the world with lyricism, whimsy, sorrow, fury, passion and humour.”

2017 winners

  • Book of the Year ($10,000) The Drover’s Wife, Leah Purcell (Currency Press and Belvoir in association with Oombarra Productions)
  • Christina Stead Prize for Fiction ($40,000) The Museum of Modern Love, Heather Rose (Allen & Unwin)
  • UTS Glenda Adams Award for New Writing ($5,000 – sponsored by UTS) Letter to Pessoa, Michelle Cahill (Giramondo Publishing)
  • Douglas Stewart Prize for Non‐fiction ($40,000) Our Man Elsewhere: In Search of Alan Moorehead, Thornton McCamish (Black Inc.)
  • Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry ($30,000) Ghostspeaking, Peter Boyle (Vagabond Press)
  • Patricia Wrightson Prize for Children’s Literature ($30,000) Iris and the Tiger, Leanne Hall (Text Publishing)
  • Ethel Turner Prize for Young People’s Literature ($30,000) One Thousand Hills, James Roy and Noël Zihabamwe (Omnibus Books, Scholastic Australia)
  • Nick Enright Prize for Playwriting ($30,000) The Drover’s Wife, Leah Purcell (Currency Press and Belvoir in association with Oombarra Productions)
  • Betty Roland Prize for Scriptwriting ($30,000) JOINT WINNERS: The Code, Series 2 Episode 4, Shelley Birse (Playmaker Media) Down Under, Abe Forsythe (Riot Film Pty Ltd)
  • Multicultural NSW Award ($20,000) The Hate Race, Maxine Beneba Clarke (Hachette Australia)
  • The NSW Premier’s Translation Prize ($30,000) Royall Tyler
  • Multicultural NSW Early Career Translator Prize ($5,000) Jan Owen
  • People’s Choice Award   Vancouver, #3 in the series Wisdom Tree, Nick Earls (Inkerman & Blunt)

The State Library of NSW has announced the shortlist for the 2017 Russell Prize for Humour Writing.

The shortlisted titles are:

  • Going Out Backwards: A Grafton Everest Adventure (Ross Fitzgerald & Ian McFadyen, Hybrid Publishers)
  • True Girt: The Unauthorised History of Australia—Volume 2 (David Hunt, Black Inc.)
  • A Toaster on Mars (Darrell Pitt, Text)
  • Error Australis (Ben Pobjie, Affirm Press)
  • Quicksand (Steve Toltz, Penguin)
  • The Anti-Cool Girl (Rosie Waterland, Fourth Estate).

More information

In November 2015, over the course of a weekend, I met seven publishers and two agents – who had all read a sample of my manuscript – to discuss their thoughts on my writing. Among the guests were some of the biggest names in Australian publishing, including Henry Rosenbloom, founder of Scribe, and representatives from Hachette and Random House. The 30 minute discussions were daunting, nerve-wracking, and incredibly enlightening. This was round two of the ACT Writers Centre’s HARDCOPY program.

It began the previous March when I was procrastinating and found a link from a QWC email to the HARDCOPY application page. It was due in a few days, but I pulled together an application and found out a month later that I had been accepted. Then I read the fine print: the program would involve at least two trips to Canberra.

“[HARDCOPY] is the only national program that combines manuscript development, industry awareness, and feedback from agents and publishers.”

The timing, the distance (from Far North Queensland), my financial situation and my children needing childcare for days I would be away, all presented problems as to why I might not be able to attend. But this was the opportunity I’d been craving for years while I’d been working on my book about the Daintree blockade, an environmental protest that happened at Cape Tribulation in 1983-4. I applied for and received an Artslink Quick Response Grant to cover one of the trips to Canberra, and stumped up the cash for another.

Then, in May, I dug out some winter clothes and braved the Canberra cold. The first long weekend entailed a masterclass in nonfiction writing. Among the 25 participants were many memoirists, and a scattering of historians, philosophers and science writers. The masterclass facilitator, editor Nadine Davidoff, helped create a trusting and creative environment for us to share our stories.  I particularly enjoyed Nadine’s discussions about finding your voice and staying true to the story.

The second long weekend took place in September (another cold month in Canberra). Billed as a mini writers festival, Intro to Industry exceeded my expectations. We received insights from a variety of industry insiders, including an agent, Penguin’s digital marketing guru, and a book reviewer, among others. The quality of the presenters was exceptional, and there were ample opportunities to chat with them during breaks.

Before reconvening in September, participants were invited to resubmit their work. This time, our writing was vetted by respected publisher and editor Mary Cunnane. Ten writers were chosen by Mary to attend round two of HARDCOPY 2015. I was fortunate enough to be selected. We then got feedback from Mary before sending our work in again, this time to be assessed by the publishers and agents. I found this process of submitting and resubmitting the work one of the most rewarding aspects of the program.

So, to round two, and a third trip to Canberra to meet the agents and publishers. Nigel Featherstone, HARDCOPY program coordinator and published author, and Mary Cunnane were on hand to mentor us through the weekend. It was intense, but extremely satisfying. The feedback was very diverse, but overwhelmingly encouraging. If there was a universal thread, it was to get to the heart of the story a little quicker and stick faithfully to the main theme of the story. My next edit reduced the word count by 10 000 words.

HARDCOPY was a life changing experience for many participants: for me it led to an offer of representation from an agent. In the end I declined the offer and went ahead with plans to self- publish. Only time will tell if this was a good decision, but I’m proud of the book I’ve created. Being involved in HARDCOPY pushed me to make The Daintree Blockade the best book it could be.

HARDCOPY is a unique program. As Nigel Featherstone says, ‘It is the only national program that combines manuscript development, industry awareness, and feedback from agents and publishers.’ As well as these experiences, I now have great writing network, most commonly accessed through the HARDCOPY Facebook page. Two of the 2015 intake also did thorough edits of my manuscript.

HARDCOPY alternates each year between fiction and nonfiction. Applications for 2017 have closed, but follow the social media feeds of the ACT Writers Centre for information about next year’s program. I suspect HARDCOPY will become one of the most well regarded programs on the emerging writer’s calendar.

Queensland participants are advised to take plenty of warm clothing.


Bill Wilkie lives in the small sugar town of Mossman, in Far North Queensland. his first book, The Daintree Blockage: The Battle for Australia’s Tropical Rainforests, is available to purchase online at

We are delighted to announce a very special event – Hugh Lunn in conversation with Kristina Olsson on Memoir.

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Congratulations to Inga Simpson who has been longlisted for the Miles Franklin Award for her novel Where the Trees Were. Inga was a Hachette MS development program graduate and supports QWC through the Olvar Wood Mentorships as part of the Fellowships and Access program.


You don’t need convincing. The question is, how do you independently publish your work to the standard of a traditional publisher without feeling like you’ve been robbed and left in the desert in your underwear? As much as we like to think we’re super talented, chances are you’ll have to hire some help to get your work out in ebook and print. This article will take you through the key roles to fill to independently publish your work, the cost range, and how to evaluate if that service provider is the right one for you.

Many writers have been caught by dodgy contracts from providers who try to place authors under a traditional publishing contract when they are not a traditional publisher.

All in One Services

For as long as publishing has existed, there have been services who claim they can do it all for you. What sets these ‘all in one’ services apart from traditional publishers is they expect you to pay for all (or part) of the publication process, while a traditional publisher won’t charge a cent. In many cases, you can piece together what you need more cheaply with individual service providers. However, if you insist on going with an assisted publishing service, ask the following questions before you sign up:

  • Are they asking you to sign a contract? Why? If it locks you into only publishing with them, or all payments go through them rather than your bank accounts, get legal advice. Many writers have been caught by dodgy contracts from providers who try to place authors under a traditional publishing contract when they are not a traditional publisher.
  • Do they provide a full structural- and copy-edit? You will need both. Will they fix missed typos without additional charges? If not, be wary as this expense builds quickly.
  • For cover design, you want the design, as well as the rights to it (and the images/fonts on it). Ask them how many revisions they include in their price (unlimited is best, but you need a minimum of 3 and 2-3 initial choices).
  • Do you own the ISBN? It is better that you do as you may want to switch printers later.
  • Do they offer to do print copies? Ensure you own the rights to everything you pay for (including files and ISBNs). You don’t want to be locked into an expensive printing option when cheaper ones become available.

Editor – $200-$2000

You’re not the best judge of your work (sorry!). Each book you produce will need a structural edit a line edit and a copy edit. Each of these edits is a different pass through the story. When considering potential editors, make sure they edit regularly in the genre you write in. Ask for a sample edit of five pages to determine if their style suits yours (expect to pay for their time to do this). Get them to quote for the entire project rather than by the hour. Editors work at different speeds, and you can’t guarantee how quickly they work. Ask for two contactable references for their work, and ask those references how easy they were to work with, whether they stick to timelines, etc.

Formatting – $0-$300

You will need to format your manuscript to produce the two major ebook files, epub and mobi, and a PDF file to create print copies. There are many providers who can produce these for you for a fee, or you can do it yourself (I do!) using easy tools like Pressbooks, which will create all three files at once. The advantage of something like Pressbooks is you can fix or update text easily. If you hire a formatter, you’ll have to pay for their time for the update. When hiring a formatter, ask for a sample copy of their work. Again, get them to quote for the project, not an hourly rate.

Cover Design – $50-$350

When hiring a cover designer, make sure you’re familiar with their work and that it fits with the style of the books you’ll be competing against. Ensure the cover designer hands over the copyright for the cover and images/fonts used (you will use them for promotional material). You want at least 2-3 initial covers to choose from, and then 2-3 (or unlimited) cover revisions to get it perfect. If you want both an ebook and print book cover, it will cost you a little extra. You will normally be asked to pay 50% upfront, and 50% upon completion.

ISBN – $44-$88

You require an ISBN to sell your books in stores. These are purchased from Thorpe-Bowker. You need one ISBN for your ebook formats, and one for your print book. A single ISBN costs $44, and a block of ten costs $88. Buying ISBNs yourself means that you can use the same number across multiple platforms or printers, as you own it and can decide what services to use it with.

Print on Demand – $30-$80/year

Thanks to Print on Demand technology (POD) it’s cheap to have your books in print. Examples of POD include Amazon CreateSpace and Lulu, but I recommend Ingram Spark. Ingram Spark has printers across the world and will print and ship in the closest country to the customer, cutting costs for the reader. To use a POD service you will need your print cover (which includes a front, back and spine) and the interior PDF with your text. You will be charged for the initial upload of the book (around $50) and a yearly catalogue fee. If you choose to update the files at a later date, you will be charged for that change. The POD company will put your book on an online catalogue which makes it available to online bookstores worldwide. You can also order boxes of your books at cost price to sell direct to readers.

Hopefully with this guide you’ll be able to pull together your crack commando team of book producers which you can use time and again as your backlist grows.

NOTE: QWC does not endorse any particular service mentioned in this article. Always read your contracts closely and seek legal advice if you have any concerns.

Emily Craven is a YA author (The Grand Adventures of Madeline Cain) and the previous Digital Producer for QWC. She blogs about ebooks and indie publishing and runs Story City, an interactive, real-life choose-your-adventure project for which she was awarded the Brisbane City Council Innovation Award and the QLA Young Writers & Publishers award.

The Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) will partner with The Party People, the market leader for party supplies online in Australia, to celebrate CBCA Children’s Book Week 2017.

CBCA Children’s Book Week is an iconic event in Australian children’s literature and begins immediately after the announcement of the CBCA Book of the Year Awards in August. This year’s theme of Escape to Everywhere will see children of all ages, as well as teachers and some parents dressing up as their favourite book characters to celebrate story telling and the joy of reading. Libraries, schools and communities across the country will showcase Australian literature with imaginative book displays.

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