Posted in Books, Getting published, writing

Getting published in Australia

I wanted to put in a piece about the world of publishing because I think that is what first started me as a blog-reader (apart from the research I did for Destroying Avalon). I wanted to read about Aussies who’d got a deal, recently, in Australia. I wanted to know WHAT to do, HOW to do it and what was the likelihood of success?

Let’s wind the clock back…..

It’s 1997, I finish my first manuscript (about 45 000 words YA Lit) and looked into getting published.

To my horror I discovered MOST publishing houses won’t accept unsolicited manuscripts. To have a solicited manuscript you must have a publishing history, or an agent. To get an agent you must have a publishing history or a contract. To get a contract you must have a publishing house accept your manuscript. Most publishing houses won’t accept unsolicited manuscripts…..

Looks futile doesn’t it? But read that first sentence again- it says MOST. There still are publishing houses who will read your manuscript, you need to get online and carefully read their submission guidelines and prepare yourself for rejection. (I know YOU think you’re different- you’re the one who’ll defy statistics and get plucked from that first slush pile and given a three book deal. And you SHOULD think that way- because DETERMINATION is the key to the publisher’s door!!!)

Anyway, send off the first three chapters (or whatever they ask for), synopsis, covering letter- check out Miss Snark’s blog if you need some direction in what NOT to put in a query letter!!! If you get a rejection letter keep it in a file so you can laugh at it later when you’re richer than JK, but remember this- if the publisher takes the time to address you personally (instead of the standard proforma) take encouragement from that. Not all rejection letters are bad. Some (and it’s not often) come with a bit of critique- know this- you got that little bit closer.

The other way in is to win a competition! Enter everything you can (afford to)- short stories, essays etc. Not only do you stand the chance of winning, and learning to write to a deadline, but you can also create a publication record too. Contact your State Literature Centre and join a local writer’s group. That way you get notified of upcoming competitions and Writer’s groups often offer mentorships and workshops. If you’re serious, take on anything you can that will give you an insight into what’s going on in Australian literature and how to be a part of it.

 In most states there is an award for an unpublished manuscript with the prize being money (handy??) and publication (the golden snitch!!) In WA it is the TAG Hungerford Award – which was just won by Alice Nelson. Of course if you’re still under 35 there is the Australian Vogel Prize – this country’s richest award for an unpublished manuscript- and you don’t even have to win to make publication. Some of the runners up have gone onto successful literary careers. Also if you get noticed you can be invited to join a workshop (I think they still run that- it’s a Masterclass). It’s all acknowledgement and development of you as a writer.

Join the Australian Society of Authors (you don’t have to be published) and enter their Mentorship program. Look up Varuna and see what they’ve got to offer writers at the moment. But know this. Publishers DO want new work, exciting writing, fresh talent, it still is possible to crack into the world. If you keep refining your craft, and keep writing, and keep submitting you will get the acknowledgement you deserve. Be prepared to toughen up, accept criticism, be open-minded- maybe this story isn’t very good, or that suggestion might make it better. But whatever you do persevere.

Someone once said to me “writing is 1% insipiration and 99% perspiration!”


I am an Australian author of YA and Adult fiction. My first novel Destroying Avalon (2006) published by Fremantle Arts Centre Press is about cyber bullying.My second novel In Ecstasy (2008) is about friendship and drugs. My third novel Beautiful Monster (2010)focuses on body image . Crashing Down (2014) was my fourth novel and is about teen pregnancy. Saving Jazz (2016), is a novel that looks the world of social media and what happens when your mistakes go viral. In 2019 I released a non-fiction book The (mostly) English Teachers' Survival Guide To Marking which outlines a coded marking and feed-forward system, designed to save teachers about 50% of their marking time. My first adult book Double Lives is being released in 2022. I live in Western Australia, with my husband, two daughters, a cat and two Maltese Shih Tzus.

10 thoughts on “Getting published in Australia

  1. I am an author of a novel of about 99000 words.Will you please help me in finding a literary agent or a publisher?

  2. Hi Rambler,
    As I said in the post it’s a tough slog to get someone to read your work and unfortunately it’s something you have to do yourself. The rejection process is such that it serves to improve your work by providing criticsm from a publisher’s perspective. You need to investigate the things I outlined above- and be determined.

    Good luck!

  3. Wow! Just going through some of your posts! This was really helpful! A writer’s group sounds fun! ^^

  4. Hi Kate,

    I have an idea for a book of my own influential quotations. I’m not sure where to start. I’m 20 years of age and have been writing since age 16. I have shared some of my work with some of my old school teachers who have been quite impressed. Can you point me in the right direction?

    I’ve begun looking into the links you’ve provided above but was wondering if you had any clue as to the need / want / possibility of a book of this sort. You’re much more an expert than I am.


  5. Hi!
    So I’m a little confused. I sent my book of to random house (which also has a GREAT unscolicited manuscript program) and they replied asking for the rest of the book to consider it!!
    But what does that mean?? Does it me- yes we want to publish. Does is mean hmmmm probably not. Does it me it could use some work but one day we will publish- I’m so confused!!!!!

    1. Oh yeah- just mentioning it for all u authors out there- text publishing, one of the major houses in Australia publish unscolicited fiction really well so check it out!! They’re also really conciderate- they have me very positive feedback and asked me for the next book I wrote 🙂 look them up!!
      But yeah I’m still confused about my problem- please if someone answered that’s be great!!

    2. Hi Charlie the way I would look at it is they like your story and there is a chance that they want to publish it 😘

  6. It’s only about five years since you posted this post… but I must say, it’s encouraged me. I’ve read so many negative-yet-truthful blogs in the past day, and this just put a smile on my face… and got a couple of giggles out of me.

    So I’m just going to to your most recent posts and see what’s goin’ on!:D

  7. Hi Kate I’m really young (like 13 young) and would love to get something published. Would their being any publishers that would take me seriously? P.S I entered a short story competition at the begining of the year and although I didn’t win they are publishing it in a collection of short stories and poems by Aussie kids

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