Monday musings on Australian literature: Emerging or debut writer awards

Almost as important for emerging writers as the unpublished manuscript awards, about which I wrote recently, are the awards devoted to new, mostly defined as debut, writers. That is, these awards are for writers lucky enough to have been published – and who knows, some may have won an unpublished manuscript award to get published – but are just starting their careers, and may not be quite as polished as the Tim Wintons and Kate Grenvilles of the world. New writer awards must surely help get them and their books noticed.

These awards too can vary in their intentions and therefore their eligibility rules. Here are the main ones I found:

  • Dobbie Award: Established in 1994. Awarded to a first published fiction or non-fiction work by a female writer that can be described as ‘life writing’. Offers $5,000. Recent winners include works which went on to be shortlisted for the other awards such as Favel Parret’s Past the shallows, and Deborah Forster’s The book of Emmett. Tara June Winch, who’d won the David Unaipon unpublished manuscript award went on to win this award with the published version, Swallow the air.
  • FAW Anne Elder Award for first book of poetry: Awarded to a first book of poetry of at least 20 pages, not previously published locally or overseas, and containing contributions from between 1 and 4 poets. Offers $1,000. (National and state Fellowship of Australian Writers groups support a large number of awards in a wide variety of forms and genres, and with all sorts of eligibility conditions. I’ve listed this one as an example.)
  • New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards UTS Glenda Adams Award for New Writing: Established in 2005.  Awarded to a book of fiction by an author who has not previously published a booklength work of fiction. Offers $5,000. Tara June Winch also won this with Swallow the air, as did Andrew Coome’s Document Z (my review) and Michael Sala’s The last thread (my review).
  • Readings New Australian Writing Award: Established in 2014 by the Readings independent bookshop in Melbourne. Awarded to a the first or second published work of fiction by an Australian author. Offers $4,000.

There aren’t so many of these which is probably not surprising. I’d be interested to hear, though, of any others that you know are currently being offered/awarded.

11 thoughts on “Monday musings on Australian literature: Emerging or debut writer awards

  1. As you’d be aware, Sue, I am sure my book was not entered for the Dobbie Award: I had long since been ordered not to try entering it myself for anything.
    Must I suppose that it’s now too late to enter it for next year’s, d’you think ? – the site is not at all helpful in this regard.

  2. Always a tough call – submission for awards – as this involves keeping up to date, sending off copies or having your publisher do so. Every so often I do an award check-up but it’s so easy to lose interest! And there are so many short story competitions around lately. Not sure in Australia, but in the UK/Ireland there are endless competitions every month. I do think these are worth entering if you can cough up the entry fee. I just won a minor one so of course I’m going to say that!

    • Congratulations, Catherine. It does seem that there se particularly a lot of short story awards, even available to Aussies I think here and OS. I notice too that they seem more likely to have entry fees. I haven’t really got into the application process … Which ones cost, which awards you apply for and how. I read one, perhaps the new Readings one, that said they will choose which ones they consider.

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