Peter Cowan Writers Centre Inc. is a not-for-profit writing centre. Our centre’s focus is on conducting writing workshops, groups and competitions. We are not a publisher, or a literary agent, and therefore do not accept manuscripts for review, assessment or publication. We also do not offer manuscript editing services. Please do not send us manuscripts.
The following information is a guide to some helpful writing organisations, information on Australian publishers and manuscript prizes, and where writers can get assistance with manuscript assessments, editing and contract reviews. Writers need to do their own due diligence on organisations mentioned in the following information. The PCWC do not endorse any particular organisation or service, and we do not receive any financial compensation for promoting these organisations or services.
Australian Publishers & Manuscript Prizes
Please see our page on Australian Publishers at: https://pcwc.org.au/australian-publishers/ which contains information on Australia publishing houses and the prizes some of these publishers conduct. For Manuscript Prizes and Mentoring Opportunities in Australia with some international opportunities, please see: https://pcwc.org.au/manuscript-prizes-mentoring-opportunities/
State Writing Centres
Each state in Australia has a state writing organisation. In West Australia, our peak body is WritingWA. The WritingWA website has information on the publishing process, writing competitions, events and a list of qualified authors/editors/manuscript assessors (paid services) which can be found in the Literati section. WritingWA also produces free e-newsletters which writers may subscribe to here. In other Australian states, please refer to:
ACT Writers rebranded as Marion
Advocacy and Support for Writers
The Australian Society of Authors is the professional association for authors and provides Advocacy, Support and Advice to its members. Some resources on the site are free and writers can sign up to their free e-newsletter.
Editing and Manuscript Assessors
For editing and manuscript assessment services in West Australia, see WritingWA’s list of Editing and Manuscript Assessors, or check the Literati Directory.
You will also find a data base of editors on The Institute of Professional Editors (IPEd) website HERE. IPEd also has branches in most Australian states or territories. For further information, see: https://www.iped-editors.org/
For writers in other states, please also check with your state writing centres, or in some cases, check with your local writing centre. Please see the section above: State Writing Centres.
Review of Publishing Contracts
For authors who are not represented by an agent, the Australian Society of Authors has information on Fair Contracts: https://www.asauthors.org/campaigns/fair-contracts and a resource on Ten Principles for Fair Contracts: Ten Principles for Fair Contracts
The ASA also has information on Authors Legal, a not-for-profit law firm providing low- cost legal advice to authors and illustrators. See: https://www.authorslegal.org/home
WritingWA has webpages devoted to Resources for Writers including information on Arts Law who can be contacted for legal advice. Arts Law also publishes useful sample agreements, guides and checklists.
Negotiating your Contract
The ASA also recently posted a series of articles (July/August 2021) on Contracts with helpful information for writers regarding questions to ask when negotiating the money, questions to ask before granting rights, and questions to ask your publisher about their sales and marketing plan for your book. These articles can be accessed on the following links:
- Questions to ask before granting rights: https://www.asauthors.org/news/questions-to-ask-before-granting-rights
- Questions to ask about your publisher’s sales and marketing plan: https://www.asauthors.org/news/contracts-questions-to-ask-about-your-publishers-sales-and-marketing-plan
- Questions to ask when negotiating the money: https://www.asauthors.org/news/contracts-questions-to-consider-when-negotiating-the-money
The Australian Copyright Council provides free information for writers on different copyright issues. There are a number of free downloadable resources on their website, as well as publications you can purchase on different copyright topics, such as the Writers and Copyright resource. The ACC also conducts online webinars (paid) on different aspects of copyright.
Finding An Agent
In Australia, it is not essential for an author to be represented by an agent before approaching a publisher. Authors can submit to publishers and manuscript prizes without being represented by an agent. An agent, however, can be very beneficial in handling contract negotiations between authors and publishers.
Literary agents try to find a publishing house that will purchase the author’s manuscript. They handle contract negotiations and may act as the author’s manager. They also handle media deals and look after most of the author’s business affairs.
If you would like to pursue trying to find a literary agent to represent you, please visit the Australian Literary Agents’ Association website for a list of their member Australian agents and information on the type of authors and manuscripts each agent represents:
Australian Literary Agents’ Association (austlitagentsassoc.com)