The Ampersand Prize

The 2017 Ampersand Prize will open for submissions in July, with submissions now accepted over three weeks instead of two. 

Each year, the team at Hardie Grant Egmont throws open the doors for the Ampersand Prize and puts out the call for manuscripts by unpublished writers. The Ampersand Prize aims to find brilliant debut novels by writers of young adult and middle-grade fiction. If we fall in love with a manuscript, the writer receives an advance against royalties, a publishing contract, and full editorial development to bring their book to market.

Established in 2012, the Ampersand Prize is the premier award for debut novelists in Australia and New Zealand. It has launched the career of a number of successful and award-winning writers, including Melissa Keil (Life in Outer SpaceThe Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl, The Secret Science of Magic) and Erin Gough (The Flywheel).

2015 Prize-winner Cally Black will release her debut novel In the Dark Spaces in August 2017, and last year's winner Rhiannon Williams was awarded the prize for her debut fantasy adventure for middle-grade readers, Little Ott Colter (coming 2018).

This year the Ampersand Prize will open submissions from Monday 10th July and close Friday 28th July 2017. The winner will be announced in October 2017.

Keep up to date on all the latest Ampersand Prize news.

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Rhiannon Williams announced as Ampersand Prize winner

Sydney writer Rhiannon Williams has been awarded the Ampersand Prize for her debut fantasy adventure, Little Ott Colter.  

Selected from over 160 entries and a shortlist of six, this exhilarating novel from Williams marks the first time a middle-grade manuscript has won the Ampersand Prize. 

The first in a planned trilogy, Little Ott Colter follows the journey of 12-year-old Ottilie, who must disguise herself as a boy to rescue her brother from a secret organisation of monster hunters. 

Williams, a Creative Arts graduate from Flinders University with a background in theatre, is thrilled. ‘This story means so much to me and I can’t wait to share it with everyone,’ she says. ‘Winning the Ampersand Prize is a dream! I’m so glad that Little Ott Colter found its home at Hardie Grant Egmont.’  

‘I knew from the first page that we had an incredibly special debut on our hands,’ says Publisher Marisa Pintado. ‘Rhiannon has threaded a heartbreaking sibling separation into an exciting adventure with terrifying monsters – and done it utterly beautifully. I can’t wait for readers to be kept awake at night by this story like I was!’

Williams' debut adventure has definite girls-can-do-anything appeal. ‘I wanted to write about an ordinary girl doing extraordinary things,’ says Williams, ‘and when Ottilie emerged I knew she belonged at the heart of an epic adventure.’ 

This year's shortlist was very strong, but with its masterful storytelling and highly visual world-building, Little Ott Colter was a firm favourite throughout the judging process. 

Little Ott Colter will be published by Hardie Grant Egmont in 2018.