The Ampersand Prize


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the team at Hardie Grant Egmont throws open the doors for the Ampersand Prize and puts out the call for manuscripts by unpublished writers.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.

Since its launch in 2012, the Ampersand Prize has become the premier award for debut novelists in Australia and New Zealand. Previous winners include Melissa Keil (Life in Outer Space), Erin Gough (The Flywheel), Cally Black (In The Dark Spaces) and Rhiannon Williams (Ottilie Colter and the Narroway Hunt). Last year’s winner, Lisa Siberry, will publish her winning middle-grade novel in 2019.

Please note that the Ampersand Prize is on hiatus and will not run in 2019. It will resume in July 2020.

Hardie Grant Egmont Award 2018 Ampersand Prize to Frances Chapman

Hardie Grant Egmont is delighted to announce that Sydney-based journalist Frances Chapman has won the 2018 Ampersand Prize for her ‘vibrant’ debut YA novel, What it Takes

Selected from nearly two hundred submissions, What It Takes is a beautifully written own-voices LGBTQ novel about 16-year-old Lily, whose band gets a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make it big – sending her on a rollercoaster ride through overnight fame, complicated friendships, and a compelling love triangle between her bandmate, Carter, and the superstar singer, Addie. 

‘I am honoured and delighted!’ Chapman said. ‘I've followed the Ampersand Prize for years, and this is my second time entering. When I started writing the book almost three years ago, I really couldn't have imagined that this is where we'd end up, and I want to thank everyone at Hardie Grant Egmont for their kind words and the faith they've shown in the manuscript .’ 

Pitched as Almost Famous meets Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist with an LGBTQ spin, What it Takes will be published by Hardie Grant Egmont in 2020. ‘I am thrilled to be awarding the Ampersand Prize to such a brilliantly deserving debut author,’ said Marisa Pintado, Publishing Director at Hardie Grant Egmont. ‘Frances’s novel was an instant favourite among the judging team, and we all loved its exploration of the music world and the push-pull tensions of modern fandom and romantic connection in the age of social media. I can’t wait to share it with readers!’

Hardie Grant Egmont decided not to release a shortlist for the Ampersand Prize in 2018, and thanks all entrants for their time, talent and enthusiasm.




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