Program to empower non-fiction and memoir writers

Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Sarah Vincent

The 2017 HARDCOPY Program

The 2017 HARDCOPY national professional development program for Australian emerging writers has just opened for applications. I was one of the lucky 2015 participants. I gained so much from this program – advice, support, encouragement, information plus a great community of fellow writers.

HARDCOPY is an initiative of ACT Writers with funding from the Australia Council. It began in 2014 and alternates each year between fiction writers and non-fiction writers. The program selects 30 participants each year and this year the focus is non-fiction. I came out of the 2015 program with a much better manuscript, increased contacts in the industry, several publishers interested in my manuscript and two agents wanting to represent it. All of this resulted in me signing with an agent and my memoir, ‘Death by Dim Sim’, being published by Penguin Random House next month.

I can’t promise the same extraordinary outcome for all participants. In fact, the program doesn’t have publication as its main aim. But when you empower writers with everything this program offers, extraordinary things happen.

Other non-fiction 2015 participants also found their writing strengthen and their pathway become clearer. Michelle Scott-Tucker, a member of Writers Victoria, found the program a genuine revelation. “At the beginning of that year I was an unpublished writer plugging away on my own in regional Victoria, wondering if I should bother to finish the project I’d been working on for several years,” said Michelle. “But as a direct result of my participation I learned about editing and structure. I gained a network of peers – and in effect, I found my tribe.”

Michelle especially enjoyed the ‘Intro to Industry’ component of the program, which she said, “was so well programmed and the speakers so interesting, well-connected and engaging, that the days flew by. I didn’t realise how little I knew, or how crucial networking is to being published.”

Michelle also came out of the program with a publishing contract. “Publishers who participated in the program provided positive feedback about my work and Jacinta di Mase, one of the participating agents, asked to represent me. My unfinished manuscript subsequently received seven generous offers from Australian and multi-national publishers.” Michelle’s biography of Elizabeth Macarthur (1766-1850) will be released by Text Publishing in 2018.

“None of this would have occurred in the absence of the HARDCOPY program,” Michelle stated. “I had approached agents in the past only be told ‘No thank you,’ or worse. I was writing in isolation and – to a large extent – ignorance. The HARDCOPY program jumpstarted my writing career and introduced me to a family of like-minded, non-fiction writers. In a way I’d never have thought possible, the program has positioned me so that I am now able to start giving back to the Australian literary community – in terms of speaking opportunities, support for peers and advice for emerging writers. I can’t recommend the HARDCOPY program highly enough.”

Other writers in the 2015 program have gained agents, publication in literary journals, spots as guest bloggers in writing festivals and board positions with writing organisations. I’m sure all would say that their manuscript is stronger and they have a much better idea of its future direction and commercial viability.

If you are a committed emerging writer with a memoir or other nonfiction manuscript in development that you are committed to finishing, do check this program out.

Expressions of interest close 4pm Friday 17 March 2017. For more information see the ACT Writers Centre website.

About Sarah Vincent

Sarah Vincent is the Membership Officer at Writers Victoria. Her memoir ‘Death by Dim Sim’ is being published by Penguin Random House in March 2017.