Frequently asked questions
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1. Who will assess the applications?
2. How do I show that I meet the author-based selection criteria?
There are four requirements:
- Tell us what you seek to get out of this scheme in 300 words or less, explaining how you’ll personally benefit from this opportunity. Have you previously encountered any specific ways in which the publishing industry was inaccessible to you? If someone is nominating you, they’ll write this section.
- You need a one-page letter of support from someone who can vouch for your capacity to deliver the work. If you’re being nominated, this letter is optional and can come from the person nominating you, or someone else.
- You need to provide a brief summary of your writing sample (maximum 200 words). This may include the inspiration, the context of the sample in relation to the full work, or anything you'd like the judges to know about your work.
- You need to provide a writing sample. For fiction/non-fiction prose, 10,000 words of a book-length work-in-progress (with 10% leeway either way, i.e. a minimum of 9,000 and maximum of 11,000 words); for poetry, 10–15 completed pages with a view to producing a book length work of poetry (i.e. over 50 pages), not a chapbook; for a graphic novel, 15–30 pages of a work-in-progress. For hybrid works, or those not covered here (e.g. a verse novel, or a work that mixes prose and poetry) please contact us to discuss the preferred sample length.
Details about the selection critera can be found here.
3. How do I demonstrate capacity to deliver a finished work?
The support letter should be written by someone who knows you well, and who can vouch for your commitment to writing – and your ability to complete your manuscript during the specified timeframe of The Next Chapter. It could be an employer, an educator, a member of your writers’ group, or a relative or friend, but make sure it’s someone who has witnessed your work habits and practices.
In addition, the fact that you can submit a work sample that meets the word count requirement suggests you’re the right person to apply.
4. Are there any individuals who won’t be considered for the scheme?
All applicants will be considered, but remember that The Next Chapter aims to celebrate writers who reflect the diversity of Australian identities and experiences, and to offer opportunities to writers from marginalised communities. As such, grants in any given year will be distributed amongst writers from a diversity of backgrounds.
5. What do you mean by ‘diverse’?
We recognise all diverse experiences, including (but not limited to): First Nations people; refugees and asylum seekers; people with disability*; sexually diverse writers; writers of any gender, including non-binary or genderqueer; writers from regional and remote areas; and writers from socio-economically, culturally, and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
* We subscribe to a broad definition of disability, which includes but is not limited to physical, sensory, cognitive, intellectual or developmental disabilities, chronic conditions, and mental illnesses (this may also include addiction).
6. I've read that The Next Chapter aims to support a new wave of writers. Is there an upper age limit for eligibility?
No, this scheme is open to all writers aged over 18, and applicants of all ages are encouraged to apply.
7. What kinds of writing projects are eligible? What kind of manuscript do I need to be working on?
Fiction and non-fiction works for readers aged 13 and above are eligible. This includes works of memoir, biography, history, narrative non-fiction, verse novels, novels of all genres, and collections of short stories or essays by a single author. Illustrated works, including graphic novels, are eligible, provided the sample of work meets the stated requirements. Poetry is also eligible.
Ineligible works include: academic textbooks, self-help books, books for children under 13, plays and film scripts.
8. What is a book-length work?
In the context of this scheme, the definition of a book-length work varies across genres:
- For fiction or non-fiction prose, we consider book length to comprise at least 50,000 words;
- For poetry, any work over 50 pages;
- For graphic novels, any work over 40 pages.
9. Does my 10,000-word sample need to be a contiguous piece – or can it be a variety of excerpts from my work?
Your writing sample may be made up of excerpts – but you should be sure that it offers a sense of the subject, tone and style of your work, and that at least 75% of it consists of the work you intend to develop as part of the scheme. You can outline or explain this further in your 200-word summary.
10. Does my writing sample have to consist of one body of work, or can it be made up of a combination of works?
Your sample can be made up of a combination of works – but the majority of the sample (at least 75%) must consist of the work you intend to develop as part of the scheme. Please do not include a synopsis or summary with your sample – the 200-word summary field can be used for this purpose.
11. Are there any particular formatting requirements for the sample?
There are no compulsory formatting requirements. However, we recommend using 1.5 line-spacing, 12-point type, and Times New Roman or a similar easy-to-read font. Please do not include your name on your sample.
12. Can my work sample be presented in a language other than English?
Your work sample must be presented in English. Bilingual editions where one of the languages used is English are also eligible.
13. Are illustrated books or graphic novels eligible?
Yes, as long as the sample you submit either meets the required word count for prose, or the page count for graphic novels (15–30 pages of a work-in-progress).
14. Can I apply with a co-author?
No. The Next Chapter is awarded to ten individuals. Joint applications are not permitted, and proposed projects submitted for the scheme must be individually-created works. Co-written prose and poetry and co-created graphic novels are not eligible.
15. Do I need a university degree or proof of previously published work to apply?
No, you don’t need any specific education qualifications or a record of previous publication to apply.
16. I’ve had a book published before. Am I eligible?
Yes. Given this scheme is in part dedicated to writers who’ve had trouble breaking into the publishing industry, yours will be a harder case to make – however, we recognise and support the need for published writers to continue to build on their work and career longevity, so we’re open to hearing about what you feel you have to gain from this scheme. You can incorporate some published work as part of your sample, as long as it doesn’t make up more than 25% of the work.
17. I have self-published a book (i.e. published independently at my own expense) – am I eligible to apply?
Yes. In fact, you can enter the self-published work as your sample if that’s the project you’d like to develop further as part of the scheme.
18. I have a manuscript on submission to a few publishing houses. Am I eligible?
Yes, but we'll ask you to withdraw your book from submission with publishers if you are chosen for The Next Chapter. If your work has already been accepted for publication, or you are currently under contract with a publisher, you are ineligible to apply.
19. Can I have a contract with an agent?
Only if that contract is for a previous work in a different form or genre than your Next Chapter entry. Contact us for further clarification or to check your specific circumstances.
Just as we ask you to withdraw any current work from submission with publishers if you are chosen for The Next Chapter, we’ll also ask you to defer any current agreements or contracts with agents for the first 12 months of the scheme.
20. Does it look better if someone nominates me, rather than personally applying?
It makes no difference to the judging process. Nominations are an option in order to encourage writers who aren’t necessarily inclined to put themselves forward. Applying yourself is absolutely fine too, and encouraged.
21. Can I nominate more than one writer for the scheme?
Yes. There is no limit to the number of writers you can nominate for The Next Chapter.
22. Do you accept applications from Australians who are temporarily based overseas?
We do – but you'd need to be back in Australia in time for the start of the scheme (January 2022). Ideally, some elements of the scheme (workshops, training and other aspects of the mentorship) will be carried out in person rather than online – so people living overseas for the duration of the year-long programme would be at a disadvantage.
23. I’m unable to travel, am I still eligible?
Yes. Travel commitments are not a compulsory requirement for The Next Chapter participants if personal circumstances preclude such activities.
24. I can’t commit to this scheme across a full year, am I still eligible?
We may be able to tailor a mentorship around your specific needs. Just outline your circumstances in the space provided (‘Anything else?’) near the end of the application/nomination form.
25. Is there an application fee?
No, it’s free to apply.
26. Can I enter more than once per year?
27. I’ve applied for The Next Chapter in a previous year, can I apply again?
If you've applied in a previous year, you are permitted to enter again – but not with the same 10,000-word sample of writing, unless it’s been substantially reworked. If you are submitting a reworked version of the sample you submitted in 2018 or 2019, please use the ‘Anything else?’ field to indicate how the work has changed.
28. When will I hear if my application has been successful?
The ten successful recipients will be announced in late November 2021.
29. Will I get feedback if unsuccessful?
Unsuccessful candidates will receive a standard notification. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to enter into any correspondence on the decision.
30. If my application is successful, how will my mentor be selected?
Mentors will be selected on the basis of an initial consultation with, and input from, each participant. All mentors will be chosen based on a combination of: 1) their prior teaching, writing or mentorship experience, 2) their suitability and expertise as it pertains to the recipient’s work, and 3) their availability.
31. Can I request my own mentor to work with over the 12-month period?
We will certainly invite your input on the best mentor for you, but the final match will be our decision to make, based on suitability and availability.
32. What if I don’t like my assigned mentor?
We will consult with you over the choice of your mentor and endeavour to match you with someone you feel comfortable with – even if they’re not always your first choice.
33. How often will I meet with my mentor?
You will meet with your mentor, either in person or online, at least six times across the 12 months of the scheme. We will endeavour to arrange for you to meet your mentor at least twice in person, depending on your location and theirs.
34. If my application is successful, will I receive payment up front?
The $15,000 in funds for each writer will be transferred in three payment instalments: at the beginning of the scheme, on mid-way review, and on completion of the scheme.
35. What happens if I don’t complete my manuscript within 12 months?
The Wheeler Centre and appointed mentors will be in touch regularly during the time writers are working on their manuscripts. Situations will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. In addition, payments will be made in three instalments over the 12-month period of the scheme. Each payment will be assessed in view of the progress of the mentorship and development of the writer’s work.
36. Does the scheme guarantee that my work will be published?
No. The Next Chapter is in part set up to invest time in writers who may not have had a publisher back them before for various reasons. We aim to help each participant complete a finished work by the end of their year-long mentorship. By the end of that process, we will work with the writers to identify the best publication outcomes for their work, including introductions to publishers. It may be that not all ten participants secure publishers immediately; part of the intention of the scheme is to give writers time and space to devote to their work regardless of commercial outcomes.
37. What do highly commended writers receive?
Highly commended writers receive $500 prize money and a 12-month membership to their local writers' centre. They are welcome to enter The Next Chapter again in subsequent years.
38. Do I retain the intellectual property of the work I submit and develop as part of The Next Chapter?
39. I’m happy to give you all my details, but I don’t want them to be public. Will my information be kept private?
Yes. All information shared in the application process will be kept private, only to be shared internally amongst the assessment panel and judges. Any data shared with stakeholders will remain anonymous.
40. I write, or wish to write, under a pseudonym. Can I still apply?
Yes. Please apply under your own name, and note in the ‘Anything else?’ field that you wish to write under a pseudonym.
41. I'm an Aesop employee, am I eligible?
42. What is the Aesop Foundation?
The Aesop Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Aesop. Established in 2016, the Foundation partners with not-for-profit organisations to strengthen literacy for communities in need, and to support them to share their stories across Australia.