Expressions of interest for the 2017 program are now closed.

Established in 2014, HARDCOPY is a national professional development program that helps build the capacities, aptitudes and resources emerging Australian writers need to reach their potential.

By creating an environment that is educative, vigorous and nurturing, HARDCOPY:

  • helps writers develop their manuscripts;
  • increases industry knowledge;
  • facilitates relationships between writers and publishing professionals; and
  • breaks down the barriers of location and geography.

In 2017 the program will focus on nonfiction projects.

HARDCOPY does not specifically aim to have its participants achieve publication as a direct and immediate result of the program. Rather, HARDCOPY focuses on (1) manuscript/project development, (2) education about how the Australian publishing industry works, and (3) building connections and relationships within the industry/writing community. Any publication outcomes that may occur because of the program are considered an added bonus.

HARDCOPY aims to develop writers who will have longevity as Australian writers.

HARDCOPY is underpinned by the principle of pragmatic optimism: being aware of the challenges, but also being positive about the future.

HARDCOPY has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body. The program has also received generous assistance from Ainslie + Gorman Arts Centres and the National Library of Australia. HARDCOPY is an initiative of the ACT Writers Centre, which is supported by the ACT Government. 


HARDCOPY is open to emerging writers from anywhere in Australia who are serious about their practice and have a manuscript in development.

By emerging we mean writers who are yet to have a book-length 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 one day have a public life.

SPECIAL NOTE: writers who are already represented by a literary agent are ineligible to apply. Generally, applicants must be over 18 years of age.

HARDCOPY defines nonfiction as 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 2017. If you are in doubt, please contact us – details below.

HARDCOPY comprises two rounds and three stages. Please note that all sessions are held in the ACT.


Applications selected by a panel of high-profile Australian authors and coordinated by the ACT Writers Centre

‘The Best MS’ – a three-day manuscript development intensive masterclass with professional freelance editor Nadine Davidoff

Friday 26 May — Sunday 28 May 2017

A program reception will be held on the evening of Thursday 25 May

Manuscript development – writers work under their own steam to develop their manuscripts.

During this period the ACT Writers Centre facilitates a small number of digital conversations with established authors via Facebook. HARDCOPY participants may also establish writing groups in their home jurisdiction.

June – August
‘Intro2Industry’ – three days of presentations and panels on all facets of the publishing industry e.g. what a literary agent does, what publishers are looking for, contracts, copyright, how to get the most out of social media etc

Friday 15 September – Sunday 17 September 2017


Applications selected by a 2-person panel (Mary Cunnane and Craig Munro)

‘Going public’

  • agents/publishers Q&A panels
  • one-on-one sessions with Australian agents and publishers so participants can receive industry-level feedback

Saturday 25 November – Sunday 26 November 2017


  • places for Round 1 are capped at 30 participants
  • places for Round 2 are capped at 10 participants
  • only those who participated in Round 1 are eligible to apply for Round 2
  • participants are not compelled to apply for Round 2 i.e. if a participant does not feel ready to get industry-level feedback, they may wish to not apply to be considered for this stage
  • having access to Facebook will enable participants to engage with the closed HARDCOPY page, where program alumni share information and support each other; this will also enable participation in the digital discussions with established authors that are held during the program.

SPECIAL NOTE: for equity reasons, all those who are selected to participate in Round 1 must attend the Best MS Masterclass in May and Intro2Industry in September i.e. if you are unable to commit to attending both weekends, please decline your offer and make the space available for another writer.

The Round 1 selection panel is comprised of the following highly regarded Australian authors: Warren Brown, Kim Mahood, and Sam Vincent, as well as the Director of the ACT Writers Centre, Sarah Mason.

Nadine 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.

Mary Cunnane is a highly regarded former literary agent and has been involved with HARDCOPY as advisor since the program’s inception. Mary has worked in the publishing industry for more than 30 years both in the United States and Australia. Mary will help select the Round 2 participants (along with former publisher and editor Craig Munro – see below) and will facilitate the Going Public agents and publishers weekend in November. For more, please visit her website.

Craig Munro is a former publisher, award-winning biographer, and the founding chair of the Queensland Writers Centre. As the inaugural fiction editor at the University of Queensland Press, and later as publishing manager, he worked with many emerging writers who have since become celebrated authors, including Peter Carey and Olga Masters. Craig won the Barbara Ramsden Award for editing in 1985, and studied book publishing in Canada and the United States on a Churchill Fellowship in 1991. His books include Wild Man of Letters: the story of P.R. Stephensen and Paper Empires: a history of the book in Australia, 1946-2005 (co-edited with Robyn Sheahan-Bright). His most recent book us Under Cover – adventures in the art of editing (Scribe, 2015). Between 2012 and 2016, Craig was a judge of the Miles Franklin Literary Award.

The ACT Writers Centre is currently in discussion with a range of Australian agents and publishers to be involved in HARDCOPY 2017. However, publishers that have been involved in the program in the past include Affirm Press, Allen & Unwin, Black Inc., Blemish Books, Editia, Finlay Lloyd, Hachette, Penguin Random House, Scribe, Text, Transit Lounge, UQP and Xoum. Agents who have participated in HARDCOPY include Jenny Darling, Jacinta Di Mase, Gaby Naher, and Grace Hefeitz and Pippa Masson (Curtis Brown).

Should your application be successful, the cost for Round 1 is $600 for current financial members of an Australian state/territory writers centre and $750 for those who are not members of an Australian writers centre. The cost for Round 2 is $150.

SPECIAL NOTE: participants are responsible for all travel and accommodation costs. Should you accept an offer of a place in the program, you may wish to contact your state/territory arts funding body to see what sort of financial assistance may be available.

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 of the manuscript)

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). Please note that subsidised places are not guaranteed and are at the discretion of the director of the ACT Writers Centre. Include the title of your manuscript on your cover sheet.

Expressions of interest that do not comply with the above will be deemed ineligible.
Apply now
Please do not send physical applications to the ACT Writers Centre; these will be unopened and recycled.

Expressions of interest close 4pm Friday 17 March 2017. Extensions will not be granted, and applications received after the closing date/time will not be assessed.

Applications will be assessed by the highly qualified panel of published Australian nonfiction authors against the following criteria:

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

The panel’s decision, which is final, will be announced in late April, and we regret that the ACT Writers Centre will be unable to provide feedback.

Please phone the ACT Writers Centre on 6262 9191 between Wednesday and Friday, or email Nigel Featherstone on Please note that Nigel works from 2pm on Thursday to 5pm Friday each week and will reply to phone calls and emails during that time.

HARDCOPY has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body. The program has also received generous assistance from Ainslie + Gorman Arts Centres and the National Library of Australia. HARDCOPY is an initiative of the ACT Writers Centre, which is supported by the ACT Government.