New partnership Sparks prize

Hardie Grant Books and RMIT Writing and Publishing are pleased to introduce the inaugural Spark Prize, a new biennial prize for a narrative non-fiction book proposal. The prize opens for submissions on 17 September 2020.

The Prize includes $2000 in prize money, a six-month editorial mentorship with Hardie Grant Books and a one-week residency at RMIT's stunning McCraith House on the Mornington Peninsula.  
This exciting opportunity, free to enter and open to all writers in Australia, presents a tailored experience for one writer to develop their project from a budding idea into a strong final piece with the support of industry professionals.   
The Spark Prize aims to foster talent in the narrative non-fiction genre. Working with the Hardie Grant editorial team with a mind to learn more about the publishing industry and its processes, the successful applicant will be given the essential tools they'll need to drive their project to publication.   
Three shortlisted candidates will also win a book bundle from Hardie Grant as well as an editorial session with a Hardie Grant editor.   
"For RMIT's Writing and Publishing Discipline, working with Hardie Grant means connecting students to a leading publisher, allowing them to think about their place in the writing and publishing ecology, and considering themselves as readers and writers," reflected Francesca Rendle-Short, RMIT's Associate Dean Writing and Publishing.  
"It's especially exciting that this is a developmental prize, one that's meant to give writers new industry contexts in which to create their work."
"We are delighted to join with RMIT Writing and Publishing to initiate the Spark Prize," says Julie Pinkham, Hardie Grant Publishing's Managing Director. "It is an accessible opportunity for aspiring authors to have their non-fiction project examined and developed – we want to encourage new voices and bring compelling projects to light and give them the best chance for publication."

To enter, applicants will be asked to submit a book proposal including a one-page synopsis of their non-fiction project, a chapter outline, and 5,000 words of their work in progress to provide a sense of the tone and direction of the proposal. Submissions will be reviewed by a Hardie Grant prize committee as well as a select team of RMIT publishing student readers.

On Friday 2 October from 12.30-1.30pm RMIT Writing and Publishing will also host an online Conversation Workshop event to offer applicants and any emerging writer an insight into what makes a strong book proposal. The event will feature Hardie Grant publisher Arwen Summers and Publisher of RMIT's Bowen Street Press Tracy O'Shaughnessy alongside Hardie Grant author Emily Clements and Lecturer in RMIT's Master of Writing and Publishing, Zoe Dzunko. The event will explore narrative non-fiction and the nature of the editor-author relationship, as well as giving writers an insight into making their book proposal stand out in the industry.     
Applications for the Spark Prize close Midnight 16 October 2020, and the shortlist and prize winner will be announced in late November.

The prize aims to unearth fresh perspectives and untold stories in the narrative non-fiction genre. With a growing list of bold and compelling titles to its name, including Troll Hunting, The Lotus Eaters and Silent Invasion, Hardie Grant Books is establishing itself as a new leader in Australia's narrative non-fiction publishing.

The Spark Prize
The Lotus Eaters by Emily Clements Emily Clements, author of The Lotus Eaters, is also an RMIT Creative Writing student

The prize will also provide RMIT students insight into the workings of the Australian publishing industry. Under the guidance of Hardie Grant, student-interns working within RMIT's Bowen Street Press will be actively involved in the administration and facilitation of the Spark Prize, gaining invaluable industry experience working alongside one of Australia's most vibrant and innovative independent publishers, while playing a role in supporting the development of new and important creative work.  
RMIT has a strong, innovative writing and publishing program, deeply connected to industry and offers a Bachelor of Arts (Creative Writing), a Master of Writing and Publishing, and an Associate Degree in Professional Writing and Editing.  
RMIT's Bowen Street Press operates as a student-led publishing house within the Master of Writing and Publishing. Zoe Dzunko, Lecturer, Master of Writing and Publishing at RMIT will oversee the student team. Dzunko said that the initiative represents an essential investment into nurturing emerging and established voices in longform narrative nonfiction and "promises to inject vitality into the broader writing and publishing ecosystem."  

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