The Emerging Writers’ Festival work, learn and play largely on the land of the Kulin nation, and pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

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The Ampersand Prize

The Ampersand Prize

Presented by Hardie Grant Egmont, in association with Emerging Writers' Festival

About The Ampersand Prize

Every two years, the team at Hardie Grant Egmont throws open the doors for the Ampersand Prize and puts out the call for manuscripts by unpublished writers. The Ampersand Prize aims to find brilliant debut novels by writers of young adult and middle-grade fiction. If we fall in love with a manuscript, the writer receives an advance against royalties, a publishing contract, and full editorial development to bring their book to market.

Since its launch in 2012, the Ampersand Prize has become the premier award for debut novelists in Australia and New Zealand. Previous winners include Melissa Keil (Life in Outer Space), Erin Gough (The Flywheel), Cally Black (In The Dark Spaces) and Rhiannon Williams (Ottilie Colter and the Narroway Hunt). The most recent winner, Lisa Siberry, published her winning middle-grade novel, The Brilliant Ideas of Lily Green in 2019.

Entry Process

The Ampersand Prize is open to young adult and middle-grade novels across all genres. To be eligible for the Ampersand Prize, writers should not have already published a novel for these audiences with a trade publisher anywhere in the world.

Writers should enter their complete submissions as one combined PDF or Word document via the submission portal.

To be considered eligible, submissions MUST contain these four items in the following order:

1. A cover sheet, with the following information:

  • Author name
  • Author’s postal address
  • Project title
  • Genre(s)
  • Word count
  • Two-sentence pitch of your novel
  • A short author bio
  • If this is the second time submitting the project, a short explanation of how it has changed.

2. A one-page synopsis, that presents a clear indication of all key plot points and character development. And YES, you have to give away the ending!

3. A 100-word overview of why you wrote your manuscript. This can include information such as where your inspiration came from, why you wanted to tell this particular story, whether it’s an own-voice manuscript, and so on.

4. Your full manuscript, formatted as follows:

  • A4 page-size in a 10 to 12-point readable typeface (think Times New Roman, Arial, Calibri, Cambria, etc).
  • Manuscripts should be double-spaced.
  • Include page numbers.
  • Include the title of your manuscript in the header or footer of your document.

The winner will be announced in the Weekly Book Newsletter and on the Hardie Grant Egmont website, Facebook and Twitter. They will also send an email to newsletter subscribers.

Need further info? Check out the submission guidelines.

If you have any questions about the Ampersand Prize, you can email Hardie Grant at [email protected] and they will respond as soon as they can.


A publishing contract with Hardie Grant Egmont


  • Opening date for entries: 1 July 2020
  • Closing date for entries: 31 July 2020
  • Shortlist announced: Late October 2020
  • Winner announced at Ampersand Prize Party at the end of the year.


Hardie Grant Egmont accepts submissions from any person who has not previously had a young adult or middle-grade novel published by a trade publishing house anywhere in the world. If you have had a picture book, adult’s novel, educational or non-fiction title published, you are still eligible.

Middle-grade fiction is defined as fiction featuring pre-teen characters in situations of interest to 8-12 year olds. MG novels are usually between 30,000 and 50,000 words long.

Young Adult or YA fiction features teen protagonists in situations of interest to teen readers. YA novels are usually between 50,000 and 90,000 words long.

Eligibility for the Ampersand Prize is at the editors’ discretion.

If you have any questions about the Ampersand Prize, you can email Hardie Grant at [email protected] and they will respond as soon as they can.