Varuna's Publisher Introduction Program 2017

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 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 six leading Australian publishers — Pan Macmillan, Random House, Scribe Publications, Text Publishing, UWA Publishing or UQP. 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, click here. (applications open from 15 September, 2016)


Getting started

To be eligible for one of 12 one-week fellowships you will need to submit your manuscript and a cover sheet including title, logline and brief synopsis by 30 October 2016. 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 five manuscripts to each of our six publishing partners: Pan Macmillan Australia, Random House Australia, Scribe, Text, University of WA Press and University of Queensland Press. We ask Editors from each publishing house to select 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

The 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

Having finished my manuscript after five long years, I fully expected to hang rejection after rejection on a railroad spike, adopt a grizzled countenance for a few years and wait out a long literary winter. Instead, I was awarded a Varuna Publisher Fellowship and found myself editing my manuscript at Eleanor Dark’s writing desk. The professional consultation I received at Varuna was insightful, intelligent and invaluable. Amongst other things, it allowed me to solve a long-standing problem with the contemporary strand of my novel. All of this would have been more than enough for an emerging writer but I am very pleased to say that because of this Fellowship, University of Queensland Press will be publishing my novel, entitled 'Letters to the End of Love', in April 2013.

Y. E. Walker, Perth, Western Australia (2011 Publisher Fellowship recipient)

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.

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 15 September 2016 and must be received (electronically) by midnight (AEST) on 30 October 2016.

Shortlisted applicants will be announced on the Varuna website (Varuna News) on 15 February 2017.

Final selections will be available on the Varuna website by 15 April 2017.

Costs To Applicant

$110 (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 $350 towards their seven-night residency. Publisher Introduction Fellowship residencies include all board and accommodation and a consultation with one of Varuna's writing consultants.

No travel fund is available, but 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)



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.


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 September 15, 2016)