ACT Writers Centre

2015 HARDCOPY development program applications open



What’s this all about?
HARDCOPY is a professional development program that builds the capacities, resources and aptitudes committed emerging Australian writers need to reach their potential. By creating an environment that is educative, vigorous and nurturing, HARDCOPY:

  • helps writers develop their projects towards full-length-manuscript status;
  • significantly increases industry knowledge;
  • facilitates relationships between writers and literary professionals; and
  • breaks down the barriers of location and geography.

The focus for the 2015 program is nonfiction.

Who is this for?
HARDCOPY is open to all emerging Australian writers of nonfiction who are serious about their practice and have a project in development.

By emerging we mean writers who are yet to have a nonfiction work published by a recognised publisher (i.e. a publisher that is active, has editorial rigour, and enables distribution including through a website).

By serious we mean writers who are dedicated to the work they do: write regularly and frequently and perhaps are starting to build a list of publications in journals or magazines; seek and build on feedback; are patient and self-reflective; and aim to have the right project published at the right time by the right publisher.

Applicants should have confidence in their project’s direction, and be excited about its ongoing development and how it might find a life in a public form.

What does ‘nonfiction’ mean?
HARDCOPY applies the Australia Council’s approach to nonfiction, which includes autobiography, biography, memoir, essay collections, histories, literary criticism or analytical prose. Narrative development, polished prose, and context awareness and reflection are some of the hallmarks of nonfiction excellence. As a general rule, how to’ guides, travel guides, self-help, and cook books are ineligible for HARDCOPY 2015.

What will I get out of HARDCOPY?
If your application is successful you will:

  • significantly enhance your skills in progressing nonfiction projects;
  • be informed about what publishers are currently looking for in a nonfiction manuscript;
  • connect with established Australian writers and industry professionals;
  • learn all the ins and outs about writing/publishing in Australia; and
  • have the opportunity to discuss your work with agents and publishers.

Important note: HARDCOPY will help you develop your project/manuscript, and you will meet industry professionals, but being published is not the primary goal.

What happens and when?
The Program comprises two main rounds.  Places for Round 1 will be capped at 30 participants.  Only 10 Round 1 writers will progress to Round 2.

Round 1
(applications selected by a panel of high-profile Australian writers – see below)
‘Towards the Best MS’ – a three-day project/manuscript development intensive masterclass with professional freelance editor Nadine Davidoff – for more information see below Friday 29 May to Sunday 31 May 2015.  Venue: Canberra Youth Theatre, Gorman House Arts Centre, Canberra.  The intensive will be preceded by a reception to be held on Thursday 28 May.  Venue: Canberra Contemporary Art Space
Manuscript development
(July-August) – writers work under their own steam to develop their projects
June – August 2015
‘Intro2Industry’ – three-day seminar on all facets of the publishing industry (e.g. contracts, copyright, knowing your market, e-publishing, social media etc).  All presenters will be recognised in their fields Friday 11 September to Sunday 13 September 2015.  Venue: QL2, Gorman House Arts Centre, Canberra


Round 2
(applications selected by a high-profile professional literary agent; only those who have participated in Round 1 are eligible)
‘Going public’:

  • one-on-one consultations between writers and publishers
  • publishers panel Q&A
Saturday 28 November to Sunday 29 November 2015.  Venue: QL2, Gorman House Arts Centre, Canberra

Who is on the Round 1 selection panel?
The Round 1 selection panel is Paul Daley (journalist and author of Beersheba: A Journey Through Australia’s Forgotten War, MUP 2009, Canberra, New South 2013, and the novelChallenge, MUP 2014); Dr Jen Webb (University of Canberra, co-editor of Axon: Creative Explorations, and, with Tony Schirato, author of the Sage book series Understanding Contemporary Culture); Dr Frank Bongiorno (Australian National University, author of The Sex Life of Australians, Black Inc, 2012), and Biff Ward (author of In My Mother’s Hands, Allen & Unwin 2014).

Can you tell me about Nadine Davidoff?
Nadine Davidoff has worked as a senior editor at Random House Australia and as a commissioning editor at Black Inc. She was also fiction editor for The Monthly magazine before starting her own freelance editing business in 2006. Her areas of interest include literary and popular fiction, general non-fiction, biography/memoir, travel narrative and health. Nadine is an honorary fellow at the Writing Centre for Scholars and Researchers at Melbourne University’s School of Graduate Research, a member of the NSW Writers’ Centre, the Writers Victoria, and a member of the Society of Editors. She lives in Melbourne.

Who are the participating agents and publishers?
We are currently in discussion with a range of Australian publishers to to be involved with HARDCOPY 2015. Those that have already agreed are Penguin Random House, Affirm Press, and Finlay Lloyd. Australian literary agent Jacinta Dimase has also confirmed her involvement. We anticipate that we’ll be able to add more publishers and agents in the coming weeks. (Publishers involved with Hardcopy 2014 were Penguin Random House, Allen & Unwin, Text, Affirm, Xoum, Finlay Lloyd and Blemish Books, with Jenny Darling and Gaby Naher the participating agents.)

Should your application be successful, the cost for Round 1 is $550 for current financial members of an Australian state/territory writers centre and $700 for those who aren’t members of an Australian writers centre. There is no cost to Round 2 but places will be limited to 10; only those who have participated in Round 1 are eligible for Round 2. Please note that participants are responsible for their own travel and accommodation costs.

How do I apply?
Prepare a concise, well-thought and targeted expression of interest that includes:

  • What the book is about and why it needs to be written (1 paragraph)
  • Who you are and your credentials for writing the book (1 paragraph)
  • A statement of work on the project done to do date, including research, manuscript development, and related publishing outcomes (for example, articles published in newspapers, journals) (1 paragraph)
  • A statement of similar or competing books that have already been published (1 paragraph)
  • A chapter-by-chapter outline (max. 2 pages)
  • Sample text (max. 15- 20 pages, ideally from the beginning)

Attach a 1-page cover sheet that includes your name, address, daytime and evening phone numbers and email address. If you are a member of an Australian state/territory writers centre, include your membership number. There will be a limited number of subsidised spaces available – if you would like to apply for one of these places, indicate this on your cover sheet along with the reasons why (e.g. student, recent graduate). Include the title of your manuscript on your cover sheet.

Expressions of interest must be presented in Times New Roman, 12 point,
1.5 spaced, with standard margins. Expressions of interest that do not comply with these guidelines will be deemed ineligible.

Email your expression of interest to  Please do not send physical applications to the ACT Writers Centre.

Expressions of interest close 4pm Friday 13 March 2015. Under no circumstances will extensions be granted, and applications received after the closing date/time will not be assessed.

The ACT Writers Centre will not be able to provide feedback on unsuccessful expressions of interest.

What happens next?
Applications will be assessed by a highly qualified panel of published Australian nonfiction writers against the following criteria:

  • clarity of vision – is the core idea exciting and succinctly expressed?
  • originality of idea, voice, structure – how unique?
  • developmental progress and potential – how much work has already been done on the manuscript and how much work is yet to be done?
  • manuscript quality – is there sufficient life and energy in the writing to engage and move a reader?
  • publishability – what is the likelihood that the manuscript will find a publisher and readership?

Please note that only successful applicants will be notified – in late April – and we are unable to give feedback on unsuccessful applications.

If you have any questions or need more information
Phone the ACT Writers Centre on 6262 9191 or email Be sure to check the HARDCOPY page on the ACT Writers Centre’s website for all the latest information.

The ACT Writers Centre is supported by the ACT Government. HARDCOPY has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.

One thought on “2015 HARDCOPY development program applications open

  1. Pingback: So you have this idea, this amazing idea | the cringe

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