Varuna's Publisher Introduction Program 2019

A pathway to publication

It’s every writer’s dream — to work in peace at a beautiful mountain retreat with a respected literary mentor, knowing that a major publisher is waiting to read the finished manuscript.

Varuna’s unique Publisher Introduction Program is one of Australia’s most dynamic literary partnerships, opening important doors for writers in a creative, collaborative process that aims to deliver finely honed manuscripts to leading publishers.

Each year, the program gives up to 12 selected writers of novels, short stories and literary non-fiction the chance to nurture their manuscripts to publication stage with:

1. Private writing time

Immerse yourself in the natural drama of the Blue Mountains with a one-week residency at Varuna, where there is nothing to do but write. Of course, you can also indulge in fine food, celebrate your breakthroughs with the four other resident writers or walk to nearby World Heritage rainforests and towering sandstone escarpments.

2. A literary mentor

Your time at Varuna is about creative solitude, but you can also tap into the expertise of Varuna’s experienced consultants, all current writers working on their own projects. You will be matched with a mentor who understands manuscript development and knows the publishing process. Your mentor will be there when you need a fresh perspective, offering friendly, professional guidance to bring your work to fruition. And the support doesn’t end when you leave Varuna — your mentor will read your final work, when you are ready, to help make sure the final draft is true to your vision.

3. A date with a publisher

Having your work read by the right people is a critical step towards publication, but standing out from the crowd can be hard. The jewel in the crown of the Publisher Introduction Program is the guarantee that your manuscript will be read by one of eight leading Australian publishers — Black Inc., HarperCollins, Pan Macmillan, Penguin Random House, Scribe Publications, Text Publishing, UQP or UWA Publishing. Your writing mentor will support you in the process of presenting your final manuscript to the publisher for their consideration.

4. Be part of a writing community

We all know about the isolation of a writing life. Varuna helps writers forge enduring friendships through the Varuna alumni community. And for Publisher Introduction Program writers who need a little extra help, there’s also the Writer Development Program.

For more information on how to apply, see the link below to guidelines and application procedure. (applications open from 1 October, 2018)


Getting started

To be eligible for one of up to 12 one-week fellowships you will need to submit your manuscript and a cover sheet including title, logline and brief synopsis by 30 October 2018. Your pages should express the idea behind your writing project and illustrate your style as a writer.

Selection Process

A panel of three Varuna Consultants read all applications and make a shortlist of thirty manuscripts. From this shortlist Varuna then sends four to five manuscripts to each of our seven publishing partners: Black Inc., HarperCollins, Pan Macmillan Australia, Penguin Random House Australia, Scribe, Text, University of Queensland Press and University of WA Publishing. We ask Editors from each publishing house to select up to two writers to award a PIP Fellowship. An idea on what different Publishing houses are looking for is included in the Program Details below.

The Award

Up to 12 writers awarded a PIP Fellowship each receive a one-week residency at Varuna including a consultation on their manuscript with one of Varuna's writing consultants during their residency. When the writer has further refined their work the Consultant will then re-read the manuscript and provide further advice to the writer prior to Varuna submitting their work to the Publisher, who originally selected the work, for their consideration.

Please note: The publisher awarding the residency will not generally have any contact with the writer until the manuscript is submitted in its finished form.

From a writer who has been awarded a Publisher Introduction Fellowship

It’s a 40 year old dream starting with smurf-inspired short stories to full length novels, but I'm finally able to announce that Pan Macmillan have signed me up on a two book deal having won the Publishing Introduction Program through Varuna House in 2016. I'll be working with the same editor and publisher who edits for Markus Zusak (The Book Thief), Cloudwish (Fiona Wood) and Andy Griffiths (13 Storey Treehouse series). I am very humbled to be in this position and when I went to meet the publisher for lunch I nearly sat down on the floor under the Pan Macmillan sign and cried--with pure happiness. A new chapter begins. I must thank Varuna House and the Publishing Introduction Program; it's amazing mentors and supporters have helped me get to this point in my writing career. Writing dreams really do come true!

Taryn Bashford, PIP 2016

ACT Writers' Centre Blog
on Varuna and the Publisher Introduction Program in 2012.


Who should apply

We encourage writers working on the development of a new work of fiction, narrative non-fiction or writing for young adults to apply for Varuna's Publisher Introduction Program. Drafts submitted may be for full-length works or collections of short stories.

Your manuscript should be well advanced in its development with your application clearly showing that you are confident of both your direction and the voice for the work. For the strongest application, your manuscript should be complete. Any partial submission of a manuscripts should be at least 75% complete, with a clear indication of where further development is intended to occur.

We expect most submissions for Varuna's Publisher Introduction Program to be from new or emerging writers, but only writers who are actively contracted to a particular publisher for the submitted work are excluded from applying.

For this program we do not accept proposals for instructional non-story genres eg handbooks, guidebooks, cookbooks, self-help books, textbooks or poetry collections, junior fiction or for play or film scripts.

Publisher Introduction Fellowships are only available to writers aged 18 years and over and who are Australian citizens or permanent residents.

Important Dates

Applications are accepted from 1 October 2018 and must be received (electronically) by midnight (AEST) on 30 October 2018.

Shortlisted applicants will be announced on the Varuna website (Varuna News) on 5 February 2019.

Final selections will be available on the Varuna website by 15 April 2019.

Publisher Introduction Fellowships are generally taken between July and August (subject to availability in the house) with residencies running from Monday (arriving any time after 2.00 pm) to the Monday of departure (vacating by 9:30 am).

Costs To Applicant

$120 (GST free) per application. Fees cover administrative costs and help sustain this program.

Please note that all successful applicants are asked to make a contribution of $385 towards their seven-night residency. Publisher Introduction Fellowship residencies include all board and accommodation and a consultation with one of Varuna's writing consultants.

Varuna now has The Varuna Travel Assistance Fund which you can apply for, if eligible, and State and Territory arts departments are often willing to provide a contribution for travel expenses to support genuine professional development opportunities.

What the publishers say about the program (Selection Criteria)


Black Inc.

Black Inc. is an independent Australian publisher of quality nonfiction and fiction. We love ideas and stories, and are passionate about discovering new Australian writers and developing their careers - and partnering with Varuna assists us with that endeavour. We are looking for interesting and compelling narrative and creative nonfiction; and stylish, engaging fiction including YA.


HarperCollins Publishers Australia

HarperCollins is Australia's oldest publisher, with a rich literary legacy behind us. We are looking to continue that legacy by publishing fresh new Australian voices across fiction and non-fiction. In fiction we're after strong voices and compelling stories across all adult genres, and authors we can work with to build a career. In non-fiction we are looking for stories that make us think, make us question and make us feel.


Pan Macmillan

We are looking for original voices who are skilled in the art of storytelling, as well as the craft. Fiction that is compelling and distinctive, and serious non-fiction that engages with the world at large.


Penguin Random House

Varuna is renowned as a centre offering writing time, feedback and space to writers new and established. Like all workplaces these days, publishing houses are busy, busy hives and it can be difficult to pull your head out of the work of writers you have been working with for a while and point your nose into environments where you can discover new talent. Varuna's Publisher Introduction Program is a wonderful opportunity to read new voices.

I am looking for fiction (no science fiction or fantasy) and narrative non fiction featuring a strong voice, interesting ideas and confident storytelling. Books with something to say. I receive hundreds of fiction manuscripts each year but not enough non fiction.



Varuna’s Publisher Fellowship Program is a wonderful way for us to connect with writers early on in the writing process, and to spot talented authors and potential books that would suit Scribe’s list. It enables us to make connections with writers whose careers we would like to launch and/or develop further.

At Scribe we’re looking for quality non-fiction and fiction. In terms of non-fiction, it’s books that matter and make a difference, and are well written and informative. In terms of fiction, it’s novels that are distinctive and outstanding, with a strong narrative voice and a compelling story.


Text Publishing

At Text we publish a very broad range of fiction and non-fiction, for adults and young adults. We are looking for original voices and quality writing.


University of Queensland Press (UQP)

We are interested in Australian works of adult fiction, issues-based and narrative non-fiction and literary young adult fiction.

We are always looking for innovative and imaginative books. Working with Varuna and their upcoming writers is a great way for UQP to search for new Australian talent and to keep involved with the local writing community. UQP is a proud publisher of Australian authors so it’s nice to be able to read new voices that are supported through Varuna’s amazing program.


UWA Publishing

I'm particularly interested in fiction and non-fiction for adult readers, with a big interest in genre-crossing and 'challenging' literary work. Terri-ann White, Director UWA Publishing

For Guidelines and Application Instructions please click HERE
: (applications open October 1, 2018)