Top 5 Writing Competitions for Unpublished Authors in Australia

Memories, even your most precious ones, fade surprisingly quickly. But I don_t go along with that. The memories I value most, I don_t ever see them fading.-3

As I’m actively pursuing publication for a completed manuscript, I am not only querying agents and researching publishers but I’ve also looked at what other opportunities are available for writers with complete, unpublished manuscripts. I’ve come across various writing competitions available in Australia which I think are worth having a look at.

  1. The Premier’s Award in various states: Unfortunately the NSW Premier’s Award seems to only accept published manuscripts but Victoria, Queensland, and South Australia host similar awards and some of these awards are open to unpublished manuscripts. In WA there’s the biennial T.A.G Hungerford Award and the annual Dorothy Hewett Award (by UWA Publishing).
  2.  The Richell Prize for Emerging Writers: Submissions have just opened for this award. The prize is judged on the first three chapters of your manuscript and your synopsis. The winner receives $10,000 in prize money donated by Hachette Australia as well as a 12 month mentorship with a Hachette publisher.
  3. The Australian/ Vogel’s Literary Award: Entries are now open for one of the most prestigious awards for an unpublished manuscript by a writer under thirty-five years of age. It offers publication with Allen & Unwin inclusive of an advance and prize money totalling $20,000. The careers of Kate Grenville and Tim Winton were launched with this Award.
  4. The Ampersand Prize: Will open to submissions in July 2017. The award is hosted by the publisher Hardie Grant Egmon who hope to find a debut novelist of young adult and/or middle-grade fiction. A publishing contract and advance against royalties is up for grabs with this award.
  5. KYD Unpublished Manuscript Award: Entries close on March 31st, 2017! This award is hosted by the Kill Your Darlings magazine- one of it’s founders is Hannah Kent. If you’re a Hannah Kent fan then this one is for you because the winner will not only receive a $5000 cash prize but mentorship with Hannah Kent (fiction) or Rebecca Starford (non-fiction).

Writing competitions offer a great place to test your writing, gain some constructive feedback and build awareness about your writing projects. If you intend to enter any of these competitions then I encourage you to read through the guidelines carefully and give yourself enough time to enter the best possible version of your manuscript that you can.

If you’ve had any experience with entering these competitions then I’d love to hear from you. Leave me a comment below.


  • Hi Lauren,
    There are two WA awards for unpublished manuscripts:
    The City of Fremantle—TAG Hungerford Award is biennial with a $12,000 prize as well as publication with Fremantle Press. I think only WA residents are eligible.
    The Dorothy Hewett Award runs annually, and has a $10,000 prize and publication with UWA Press. I don’t believe you have to be a resident of WA to be eligible, but I’m not sure about that.
    My novel was shortlisted for the 2014 TAG Hungerford Award, and although it didn’t win, the shortlisting opened doors that eventually led to a publishing contract.
    Hope that’s helpful!
    Louise 🙂

    • Thank you so much for your input, Louise. I didn’t deliberately want to leave out WA but i did have a brief look at at the TAG award and saw that it was biennial but I didn’t know about the Dorothy Hewett Award so that’s great to know. That’s so amazing that the TAG Hungerford Award launched your publishing career. Not long now until that book is out in the big wide world 🙂

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