Since when were prizes all about the winners? In the publishing industry, being on the shortlist for a prize will lead to interest in your work from other publishers, and frequently a publishing contract results! Shortlistees are sought after by publishers and agents and manuscripts are requested from the authors within hours of being listed for a prize.
Last year it was the tenth anniversary of the Text Prize, and we had so many talented authors on our hands that we ended up publishing our entire shortlist as well as the winner, Adam Cece. This is the first time we’ve published the whole shortlist, and an industry first.
July sees us publishing the last of those shortlisted authors, and we checked in with them all on how the publishing process has been, and to see what their publishing journeys have been like over the last year.
What made you decide to enter the Text prize?
Adam Cece (AC): I’d heard of and been following the prize for a few years. I had a friend (Vikki Wakefield) who was published with Text and I was speaking to her about it, and she advised me to enter it. I’d had Huggabie Falls sitting in my desk drawer for ten years and I thought, well, why not, so I put it in and that was it, pretty much.
Carly Nugent (CN): I had been working on The Peacock Detectives for about four years, and it had been through multiple drafts and workshop groups. I was looking for somewhere to submit it, and the Text Prize appeared in my social media feed. It was perfect timing, really!
Brendan Lawley (BL): Text had published a few books I liked, so I always had them on the list of publishers I planned on sending the novel to. I didn’t have an agent or any friends in the biz, so entering the Text Prize seemed like the best way to be sure some eyeballs would scan over it.
Sharon Kernot (SK): I sent my manuscript to Danielle Binks at Jacinta di Mase agency to have a look at and she suggested I send it in for the Text Prize. It was a little short of the 20,000 word count, but it sounded like a good idea and so I wrote a few more poems to get it over the line and entered. I’m so glad I did.
What has the publishing experience been like for you as a first-time author?
AC: I wasn’t a first-time author when I won; it was my second book. But as far as the whole experience went, it was really great. Text feels like a big family and was very welcoming. I had a great relationship with my editor and the whole process was incredibly smooth. Text was enthusiastic about the book and the series, and has done a great job promoting it. It was a very positive experience, overall.
CN: The publishing experience has been wonderful. Text has been so supportive. Right from the beginning I felt like I was being welcomed into a literary family. I was a little nervous about the editing process, but Jane Pearson was fantastic to work with. We had many great discussions about edits, and it was a really collaborative process.
BL: Pretty good. I didn’t really know what to expect. It wasn’t particularly difficult – there was consistent editing work over the year, so no mad late nights or anything. The launch night was great fun.
SK: This is my first YA novel and my first book with Text, and the experience so far has been fantastic. Jane Pearson, my editor, has been super supportive and meticulous. Her feedback and suggestions were valuable and insightful. Everyone at Text has been wonderful. I’m really pleased with the final product – the cover is gorgeous and the book is just beautiful.
What has the impact of the prize been on your writing?
AC: Good question! It’s given me a lot more confidence as a writer. Text being so enthusiastic about Huggabie Falls – a book I always liked but wasn’t sure if a publisher would – has given me a lot more belief in my ability. It’s been a fantastic experience that has really motivated me. Especially because after winning the prize, I was suddenly writing a three-book series, so I became very busy! It taught me not to doubt my work so much. I’d had this book sitting there for so long and I think as a writer you have to be able to put it out there, and not be afraid of rejection. The Text Prize has really reinforced that.
CN: It has made me more confident as a writer, and more disciplined. The writing process itself isn’t any easier (and I don’t think it should be), but I find it easier to sit myself down to work each day.
BL: I guess it’s made me relax and not feel like I have to write much for a while. I wrote on so many ideas I had about life when putting the book together, so I think it’s going to take a while to have enough new ones to write something interesting again. I reckon all writers should try and do a lot of living before they worry about writing novels.
SK: Being shortlisted in a competition like the Text Prize is a real boost and a reminder to keep writing. Finding a publisher can be difficult – there are the inevitable rejections – and so when your work is shortlisted it makes it all feel worthwhile.
What has the exposure been like for you as an author?
AC: Absolutely brilliant. How do I even sum that up! Basically, I now go places where people have heard of Huggabie Falls. The prize has a high profile, so I go to events and people have heard of the prize and have often heard of me and my book. I do lots of school visits and lots of kids have read it, which is really cool. I’ve also been getting offers for podcasts, radio and all sorts of things, so it’s been amazing.
CN: I live in a small town, and I also teach at a local primary school. The support from the school and the wider community has been so lovely. It’s wonderful to be able to chat to kids about The Peacock Detectives, and to run into people in town who have read the book.
BL: Well, I wasn’t an author at all before, so the exposure has defined me as one – in certain conversations. Text have also hooked me up with a bunch of writers’ festivals across the country, and they should be a bit of fun.
SK: It’s been great! I’ve had quite a few more speaking invitations since the announcement of the shortlisting. I’ve done some talks and workshops, a few Q&As, and I’ve been invited to participate in the Melbourne Writers Festival Schools’ Program. It’s been fantastic.
Adam Cece is the author of The Extremely Weird Thing that Happened in Huggabie Falls.
Adam Cece lives in Adelaide. His first book, Wesley Booth Super Sleuth, was published in 2015. In 2017, Adam won the Text Prize for Young Adult and Children’s Writing for The Extremely Weird Thing that Happened in Huggabie Falls. The Unbelievably Scary Thing that Happened in Huggabie Falls is the second book in the Huggabie Falls trilogy.
Carly lives in Bright in Victoria. Her short fiction has featured in numerous publications, including the Bellevue Literary Review and Award Winning Australian Writing. The Peacock Detectives is her first novel.
Brendan is a writer living in Melbourne. Bonesland is his first novel.
Sharon writes poetry and fiction. Her work has appeared in a variety of journals, magazines and anthologies including Island, Mascara Literary Journal, Best Australian Poems and Australian Love Stories.
Publishing these authors has been an equally rewarding and exciting experience for the Team at Text and we look forward to publishing many more future Text Prize winners and shortlistees.
All three shortlisted books, as well as the Text Prize winner, The Extremely Weird Thing that Happened in Huggabie Falls by Adam Cece are available now in all good bookshops, on the Text website (free postage) and as eBooks.