5 Competitions to enter your unpublished manuscript in 2018 (Australia)

Getting a handle on plot points-2

Another year, and many more opportunities to get noticed as a writer. I have an unpublished manuscript (well, a few actually) and I’ve been looking into what competitions are available this year (in Australia) for unpublished authors. Here’s what I found:

  1. KYD Unpublished Manuscript Award: Entries now open and will close on March 31st, 2018. Hosted by Kill Your Darlings Magazine, the winner of this award wins not only a $5000 cash prize, but also a mentorship with Hannah Kent (OMG!) if you’re a fiction writer or Rebecca Starford if you write non-fiction.
  2. The Richell Prize for Emerging Writers: This award has become hugely popular as the winner receives $10,000 in prize money and a 12 month mentorship with a Hachette publisher. Entries should open around March.
  3. The Australian/ Vogel’s Literary Award: One of the most prestigious awards for an unpublished manuscript for writers under thirty-five years of age as it comes with a publication deal with Allen & Unwin. Entries currently open and will close 31st May 2018.
  4. The Ampersand Prize: Will open to submissions on 2nd July and close on the 20th July 2018. The award is hosted by the publisher Hardie Grant Egmon for writers of young adult and/ or middle-grade fiction. A publishing contract and advance against royalties is up for grabs with this award.
  5. The Premier’s Award in various states: Unfortunately the NSW Premier’s Award seems to only accept published manuscripts but VictoriaQueensland, and South Australia host similar awards and some of these awards are open to unpublished manuscripts.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).

Best of luck to any aspiring authors who intend to enter any of these competitions this year. I entered the Richell and the Vogel last year and was unsuccessful but it was a really good experience to practice my pitch and the submissions process and it was a good feeling to know i’d put my manuscript out there. Fingers crossed for this year!


  • Thanks for this list; it’s definitely helpful. I have a question though — do you have a copy editor go through your manuscript before you submit or is it just edits and redrafting you’ve done?

    • Hi Sanch, you’re welcome 🙂
      I haven’t used an editor before but i have just booked one to do a structural (developmental) edit for my manuscript for the first time. I’m hoping it will help me polish it up to a publishable standard. I don’t think a copy edit is necessary, particularly for a competition. I tend to get my critique partner look over the first couple of chapters first, just to make sure I haven’t missed any obvious mistakes before i submit to a competition.

  • Oh my goodness! I can’t believe it’s nearly time for the Richell Prize to open again! It feels like barely any time has passed since I entered last year, and while my manuscript is so much stronger than it was then, it’s still nowhere near ready to go through that again. Or maybe, just maybe, you’ve planted a seed in my mind…
    Good luck with any competitions you enter this year 😊

    • I can’t believe it either, Marie. Almost a year has passed by since we entered and here it is again! It sounds like you’ve spent a lot of time on your manuscript. It’s amazing what a year can do for your writing, huh? Best of luck if you do enter again! x

  • Thanks Lauren. This is a great post. I would have bookmarked this post for next year given my first draft is only half finished but some advice from Allison Tait and Valerie Khoo on the So you want to be a writer podcast last week has been just the push to use these competitions as an incentive to get the first draft done. You could also add the Harper Collins Banjo Prize to the list – I think it opens this Friday (23 March)

    • Thanks Ange. I’m glad you found the post useful 🙂 I use the competitions as a way to get my WIP into shape and to make sure i get cover letters and synopses sorted. It’s good practice! Thank you for reminding me- I will add that new comp to the list.
      I love that podcast too!

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