Merlyn Myer Biography Stipend

In honour of the 30th anniversary of Merlyn Myer’s death, and to celebrate the importance of acts of memory both public and private, the Merlyn Myer Biography Stipend has been established to assist Australian non-fiction literary writing through the art of biography.
In 2013, two stipends valued at $50,000 each will be awarded to Australian authors undertaking a major biography under commission from an Australian publisher.

The Stipend and The Commission
The stipend is paid directly to the author and is intended to assist with living expenses, research (including travel) and incidental costs during the writing of the work. Most particularly, the stipend is paid as a supplement to the author’s contracted fees, allowances and/or advances. Subject to the author’s proposed time-frame for the work, the Fund reserves the right to pay the $50,000 in instalments. Acquittal of the stipend will be a three page report from the author and publisher plus copies of the final work. Evidence of expenditure of the stipend will not be required.
The stipend will be awarded on the basis of a recent commission, being one contracted on or after 1 January, 2012. Alternatively, the stipend will be conditionally awarded on the basis of a commission-in-principle. In this circumstance, the stipend only becomes payable once the commission has proceeded to a fully executed contract – and in any event, no later than 30 June, 2013.

Assessment Criteria
A Biography Panel made up of experts in the field of non-fiction literary writing and publishing will assess proposals and select the two most outstanding projects.
Assessment criteria will focus on an author’s previously demonstrated
• excellence in non-fiction, narrative writing
• liveliness and readability of structure and style
• rigor and perspicacity in biographic and/or historical research.
While the subject of the biography need not be Australian born or have resided in Australia, the Biography Panel will give priority to projects where a study of the subject’s life has the potential to cast original perspectives on contemporary Australia’s understanding of its culture and social history.
Biographic studies which focus on more than one individual may be considered. Memoirs and autobiographical works are not eligible. .

Making Application
The Sidney Myer Fund invites Expressions of Interest from biographer/publisher teams to establish the eligibility and essential qualities of proposals. It is estimated that up to five Expressions of Interest will be selected and invited to submit a Full Proposal. Full Proposals will be assessed by the Biography Panel and two will be recommended to the Sidney Myer Fund Trustees to receive a Merlyn Myer Biography Stipend.
All applications to the Fund must be submitted online by midnight EST on Friday 15 March, 2013.

Expressions of Interest
An Expression of Interest will be no more than 1,500 words in length and should be jointly prepared by biographer/publisher teams. It should be submitted online by the author.
The Expression of Interest will contain the following information:
1. Is the work under current commission (contracts must have been signed on or after 1 January, 2012) or is the project a commission-in-principle?
2. What is the proposed time-line for the project?
3. A brief biography of the author including extracts of peer review and/or published criticism.
4. A brief statement by the author concerning:
a. the significance of the biographic subject;
b. the significance of the project to the author’s vocational development.
5. A brief statement by the publisher concerning:
a. the author’s qualities as a writer/researcher and their appropriateness for the commission;
b. the contribution the author has made and/or could make to the field of non-fiction literary narrative;
c. the significance of the project to their publishing objectives.
Support material for the Expression of Interest will be limited to extracts of peer review, letters of recommendation and/or criticism of the author’s previous work and must be submitted as part of the online submission.

Full Proposals
Full Proposals will be at the invitation of the Fund and will be jointly prepared by biographer/publisher teams and submitted by the author.
They will be no more than 2,500 words (plus support material).
The Full Proposal offers an opportunity to expand on the initial submission while including responses to the following:
1. How will a study of the proposed subject’s life cast original perspectives on contemporary Australia’s understanding of its culture and social history?
2. Is the biography authorised? If so, please provide details.
3. What are the particular challenges likely to be faced by the author and/or publisher in completing the work (this could relate to identifying documents, securing access to individuals and objects, obtaining permissions, etc.)? What strategies are in place to manage these challenges?
4. Who is the likely readership for the published work and how will it be promoted (nationally and, where appropriate, internationally)? How might the project contribute to the development of the genre and professional opportunities for Australian biographers?

Essential support material for the Full Proposal will include:
• soft copy extracts of the author’s previous work; OR
• hard copies X 5 of extracts of the author’s previous works.

Submissions to the Fund are protected by strict privacy protocols.

Time-frame and Deadlines
Submissions are now invited.
Click Here to commence your submission.
All enquiries regarding the Merlyn Myer Biography Stipend should be directed to Program Manager, Stephen Armstrong by email in the first instance:
A. Expressions of Interest must be received by Friday 15 March, 2013.
B. Short-listed applicants will be contacted by Thursday 28 March, 2013 and invited to submit Full Proposals.
C. Full Proposals must be received by Friday 19 April, 2013.
D. Successful applicants will be notified no later than 31 May, 2013.

The proposal must be for a biographic study.
Multiple biographic subjects will be considered.
Autobiographic works and memoirs are NOT eligible.
Only one submission per author/publisher team will be considered.
The author must be an Australian citizen or permanent resident.
The work must be under commission* by an Australian publisher:
• Extant works must have been contracted on or after 1 January, 2012
• Commissions-in-principle must proceed to being fully executed commissions before the stipend is payable and in any event, no later than 30 June, 2013

* Special Note
The terms and conditions of the executed contract between the author and publisher must at a minimum reflect current industry standards. Once applications have been submitted, applicants will be contacted by the Program Manager to verify the terms and conditions of the commission (as executed or proposed). This information remains strictly confidential and will not be made available to the Biography Panel or other third parties.
The stipend must not take the place of or in any way reduce the value of the commission/advance payable to the author. Commission agreements which do not reflect reasonable industry standards as advised to the Fund by The Society of Authors will not prove competitive in the assessment process.