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 2018 the program will focus on fiction manuscripts.

HARDCOPY is currently closed for applications. However, if you are a tertiary-level creative writing student and wish to attend Intro2Industry (presentations an and panels on the Australian publishing industry) on 14-16 September, please click here.

HARDCOPY does not specifically aim to have its participants achieve publication as a direct and immediate result of the program. Rather, HARDCOPY focuses on:

  • manuscript development;
  • education about how the Australian publishing industry works; and
  • 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 is a special initiative of the ACT Writers Centre and funded by the Australia Council for the Arts.



Who is HARDCOPY for?

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 fiction 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 manuscript’s direction, and be excited about its ongoing development and how it might one day have a public life.

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

When you say ‘fiction’, what do you mean?

In general, we are open-minded.

Are short-story collections, novellas, and verse novels allowed? Yes.

However, HARDCOPY is not appropriate for works aimed at children i.e. readers under twelve years of age. We also don’t accept anthologies.

If you are unsure about your manuscript’s eligibility, please contact us.

Is there a preferred word length?

No, there isn’t a preferred word length, neither is there a minimum or maximum word length, but you should make yourself aware of the industry standards in terms of the genre in which you are working.

HC Digital: a new, online-only access opportunity

In 2018 there will be a new way to participate in HARDCOPY: HC Digital.

This sub-program allow up to 10 emerging Australian writers to engage in the various classes, presentations and panels via live-streaming and connect one-on-one with agents and publishers through video chat programs such as Skype.

In 2018, HC Digital will favour writers who would not normally be able to access a program like HARDCOPY, for example because of challenges associated with health, and/or income, and/or geographic isolation. To this end, this year HC Digital will preference writers who are Centrelink clients and/or those who would find travelling to the ACT difficult. Please note that you are not required to provide information about your personal circumstances.

What equipment/technology do I need to do HC Digital?

HC Digital will be completed online so you will need access to a computer that has audio capability and a reliable and relatively speedy internet connection – at least 10mbps to allow for a good stream. You can test your speeds here. Most computers purchased in the last 3 years will come with built-in microphones and speakers. We don’t recommend planning to rely on your mobile phone.

What are the advantages of attending HC Digital?

While HC Digital will not have the same level of direct contact, the program will offer:

  • live streams of the 3-day manuscript development masterclass and the 3 days of industry presentations and panels;
  • opportunities to ask questions during sessions;
  • the chance to participate in agent and publishers weekend via video chat; and
  • membership of the closed Facebook group that includes current HARDCOPY participants as well as alumni.

What are the advantages of attending HARDCOPY in person compared to attending online via HC Digital?

HARDCOPY was established in part to break down geographical barriers that are often experienced by emerging writers. Based on the feedback we have received from previous participants, most say that meeting, socialising and making longstanding connections with new writers are some of the main outcomes. So, should you have the means, we encourage you to plan to attend HARDCOPY in person to get the most out of the program.

NOTE: most state and territory arts funding bodies provides travel support to enable artists to attend professional development opportunities. Please contact the arts funding body in your state or territory for more information.

Is it possible to do a mixed version of physically attending Hardcopy but completing some elements online?

No. At this stage HC Digital is intended to give access to those unable to attend physically.

First Nations Australia Writers’ Network Scholarship:

In collaboration with the First Nations Australia Writers’ Network (FNAWN), in 2018 HARDCOPY is providing a scholarship to an emerging First Nations writer – benefits include assistance towards travel and accommodation. This support is for attending the main HARDCOPY program i.e. not HC Digital. Applicants must be members of FNAWN. For more information, please contact

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 highly regarded professional freelance editor Nadine Davidoff.

Friday 25 May — Sunday 27 May 2018

A program reception will be held at 6pm on Thursday 24 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, everything you need to know about contracts and copyright, and how books end up in the hands of readers via bookshops.

Friday 14 September – Sunday 16 September 2018


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

‘Going public’ – two days of Q&A panels with agents and publishers and confidential one-on-one sessions with Australian agents and publishers so participants can receive industry-level feedback.

Saturday 24 November – Sunday 25 November 2018


  • 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 current participants and 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.
  • IMPORTANT: for equity reasons, all those who are selected to participate in Round 1 must attend the Best MS Masterclass in May and attend 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.

Who is on the Round 1 selection panel?
The Round 1 selection panel will comprise highly regarded Australian authors and the Director of the ACT Writers Centre, Sarah Mason. We will update this page when the selection panel has been finalised.

Nadine Davidoff – manuscript development masterclass facilitator

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 – program advisor, Round 2 selector, Going Public facilitator

Mary 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. For more, please visit

Craig Munro – Round 2 selector

Craig 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.

Who are the participating agents and publishers?
The ACT Writers Centre is currently in discussion with a range of prominent Australian agents and publishers to be involved in HARDCOPY 2018. Publishers that have been involved in the program in the past include Affirm Press, Allen & Unwin, Black Inc., Blemish Books, Editia, Finlay Lloyd, Hachette, HarperCollins, Penguin Random House, Scribe, Text, Transit Lounge, UQP, UWAP, and Xoum. Agents who have participated in HARDCOPY include Jenny Darling, Jacinta Di Mase, Gaby Naher, and Jane Novak, as well as Grace Hefeitz, Benjamin Stevenson and Pippa Masson from 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 $700 for those who are not members of an Australian writers centre. The cost for Round 2 is $300.

For HC Digital, should your application be successful, the cost is $300. The cost for HC Digital Round 2 is $100.

There will be a limited number of subsidised spaces available for Centrelink clients.

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.

Okay, it all sounds great – how do I apply?

Prepare a 3-page cover letter that includes the following:

  • a synopsis of your manuscript;
  • a statement about the development of the manuscript to date; and
  • biographical statement (i.e. your writing activity/achievements).

Cover letters that go over the 3-page limit will be deemed ineligible.

The application form will ask for:

  • your name
  • your address
  • your main phone number you use
  • your email address
  • your manuscript title
  • if you are applying for HARDCOPY 2018 or HC Digital 2018
  • if you are applying for the First Nations Australia Writers’ Network (FNAWN) Scholarship
  • if you would like to be considered for a subsidised place for HARDCOPY 2018 or HC Digital 2018

Attach 30-50 pages of your manuscript. You are welcome to present your manuscript in whatever way you feel is best, noting that readability is essential. Please note that the industry standard is: Times New Roman, 12 point, 1.5 spaced, with standard margins.

Submissions are to be sent via Submittable.

Please do not send physical applications to the ACT Writers Centre; these will be returned to sender unopened.

Expressions of interest close 4pm Friday 16 March 2016. Extensions of time will not be granted, and applications received after the closing date/time will not be assessed.

Apply now

NOTE: there are no application fees.

Applications will be assessed by the highly qualified panel of published Australian fiction 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. 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 Thursday to 5pm Friday each week and will reply to phone calls and emails during that time.

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