What is The Next Chapter?
It’s really hard to make it as a writer.
Writers earn next to no money for their books. Even the most successful, most celebrated and acclaimed literary works in Australia can struggle to find an audience. Great books disappear without a trace every day.
When the markers of success and failure are that unforgiving, having the ability to take a chance on becoming a writer is a privileged position. And if it’s hard to succeed, it’s doubly hard to take risks with the craft of writing; to learn, to play, to develop and to explore. You might find your voice. But who’ll hear it?
For nine years, the Wheeler Centre has devoted itself to making it easier and better to live in Melbourne as someone who loves books, writing and ideas. Through the ambitious, innovative and wide-reaching Next Chapter scheme, we make it easier to be an Australian writer with a story to tell.
If publishing is essentially about connecting an idea or an imaginative moment with its natural audience, then we think that making those connections needs a different set of criteria than just the marketplace.
How do we best support those voices who aren’t getting heard through conventional publishing channels? How do we help passionate, skilled writers hone and develop their work without having to constantly worry about sales and royalty rates – before they’ve even begun? And how can we uncover, nurture and grow a new wave of voices?
This scheme was born in response to those questions. It’s about giving writers time and space to craft a voice and a career – offering them support from mentors and peers, and the opportunity to experiment and develop their writing. It’s also about investing time and expertise in writers who reflect the diversity of Australian identities and experiences, and offering opportunities to writers from marginalised communities.
Each year, we pick ten outstanding writers and give them $15,000 each to develop their work. We match them with a mentor, and work closely with them on bringing their writing to life, connecting them with other writers, publishers, booksellers and readers – and guiding and training them through that experience. And we follow and support them and their work through their career, with initiatives that help publishers, booksellers and readers alike to join us in supporting these Australian stories.
This is for the stories that aren’t being told, the voices we’re not hearing, and the ideas that need patience, care and work to introduce to the world. It’s for writers. Welcome to The Next Chapter.