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Emerging Writers Festival announced for Melbourne, online in June 

The program has been announced for this year’s Emerging Writers’ Festival (EWF), which will run from 15–25 June, with events to run both online and at locations across Melbourne.

Of particular note for authors is the professional development series, which includes events such as ‘Masterclass: Editing for writers’, ‘Writers’ Night School: Intro to narrative audio’ and ‘Pitch perfect’, each led by experts in their field.  

Other program highlights include ‘Writing the Stars’, a screening and spoken word event held at the Melbourne Planetarium presented in partnership with Scienceworks; ‘Bodies of Sound’, a collaboration between musicians and poets; ‘Amazing Babes’, at which the winner of the Rachel Funari Prize will be announced; and ‘Closing Night: Lie to me’, while the annual National Writers’ Conference will be headlined by writers including Yassmin Abdel-Magied, Jennifer Down, Jamie Marina Lau, Jeanine Leane and Oliver Reeson.

 The program includes a total of 50 events—half of which will be accessible online. For more information and to see the full program, visit the EWF website here. 

Booktopia CEO steps down as earnings, share price tumbles

Booktopia co-founder Tony Nash will step down as CEO of the Australian online book retailer after the company posted a 65% drop in profit for the nine months to 31 March. 

 The latest earnings report comes after an interim report in February showed the company’s profits had halved on the back of slowing revenue growth during the first half of the financial year.

In a statement, Booktopia said its third quarter earnings fell by 65% to $1.5 million ‘due to the combined impact of increased operating expenses and lower academic book sales’. The retailer also reported it expects its net profit after tax (NPAT) for the year to be a loss and warned its full-year results ‘may also be impacted by a penalty from the ongoing proceedings by the ACCC’.

Booktopia’s share price closed at $0.39 per share on 16 May after listing on the ASX in December 2020 at $2.86 per share. The company has begun the search for a new CEO and Nash will remain in the position until a replacement is appointed. 

Booklife Prize for Nonfiction finalists 

BookLife and Publishers Weekly have announced the four finalists for the Booklife Prize for Nonfiction, worth $5000.

The BookLife Prize is an annual writing competition in two contests (fiction and nonfiction) sponsored by BookLife and Publishers Weekly. It seeks to support independent authors and discover great written works in nine categories across the two sections.

The four nonfiction titles, chosen as the winners of their respective contest categories, are:

Business/personal finance

  • Mission First People Always: The Definitive Guide to Balancing People and Performance (Mike Patterson)


  • Butterfly Awakens (Meg Nocero)


  • The Burning Light of Two Stars (Laura Davis)


  • Stigma: Breaking the Asian American silence on mental health (Tanaya Kollipara).

The BookLife Prize for Fiction contest is now open until 31 August. To see previous prize winners, click here. For more information about the prize, visit the BookLife website here.  

New Wattpad CEO as co-founder departs

Allen Lau, CEO of the popular publishing and reading platform Wattpad, has announced he’s leaving the role, but will remain involved as executive advisor to South Korean parent company Webtoon.

In a company blog post, Lau said: ‘I am amazed at what I’ve accomplished together with my co-founder Ivan Yuen and the entire Wattpad team. What started as a place to read and write stories on your mobile device, has grown into a product and community loved by close to 100 million people.’ 

Wattpad, which is based in Toronto, Canada, was sold to South Korean internet search engine conglomerate Naver (which owns digital comics platform Webtoon) last year in a deal worth an estimated US$600 million (A$870m). 

Wattpad president Jeanne Lam—who has been with the company for seven years in roles including head of audience, general manager and chief business officer—will step into the role of CEO. Lam told Publishing Perspectives: ‘As president, I’m laser-focused on helping writers grow their readers and fandoms on Wattpad, while also enabling as many writers as possible to earn a living on the platform. As we look to the next phase of Wattpad’s growth, I’m committed to finding new and transformative ways for our creators to maximize their stories’ readership and earning potential.’ 

Latest award news 

In literary awards news over the past month, poet Evelyn Araluen was crowned this year’s winner of the $60,000 Stella Prize, presented to the best literary work by an Australian woman or non-binary writer published in the previous calendar year, for her collection Dropbear (UQP).

Overseas, winners have been announced for the Pulitzer Prizes and the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards, while locally, the shortlists for the Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards were also revealed.

Latest competitions 

Penguin Random House Australia (PRH)—with support from the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas (JNI) and the Copyright Agency—has a new initiative to provide experience and mentoring to longform writers.

The Long Lede initiative will pair 10 writers with 10 mentors to develop a 5000-word piece of longform factual writing, to be published in a PRH anthology. The mentees will have the opportunity to develop their skills in crafting and pitching ideas, conducting research, interviewing subjects, fact-checking and editing, and will attend a series of masterclasses taught by longform practitioners.

Open to early to mid-career writers, the program will run from October 2022 to April 2023. Applicants must be Australian residents, have some previously published work, and should have a desire to build their portfolio in longform writing.

For more information about the program, see the JNI website.

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