Alex Adsett Publishing Services is a full service literary agency, representing quality works of fiction and non-fiction for children, teens and adults. We also provide freelance consultancy services for Australian publishers and authors, including commercial review of publishing contracts.

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Dinuka-McKenzieAfter the exciting news last week that emerging crime novelist Dinuka McKenzie has signed with Alex Adsett Literary, we are beyond thrilled that this week she has won the Banjo Prize for fiction with Harper Collins!

Dinuka’s debut crime Flood Debris, is an incredible tense and exciting new work of fiction, and will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Harper Collins writes:


HarperCollins Publishers Australia is delighted to announce that the winner of the 2020 Banjo Prize is Dinuka McKenzie for her unpublished manuscript Flood Debris.

Flood Debris is the first novel in a crime series featuring Detective Kate Miles. It’s a gripping, pacy police procedural which will appeal to fans of Dervla McTiernan, Susie Steiner, Sarah Bailey and Val McDermid.

Heavily pregnant detective Kate Miles is a week away from going on maternity leave when she’s asked to review the case of a local man who died in the recent devastating floods in northern NSW. But what should be a straightforward, box-ticking report turns into something much murkier. As she is also investigating an assault on a teenage girl during a robbery, the two cases come together in surprising – and dangerous – ways.

Anna Valdinger, Fiction Publisher at HarperCollins, says: ‘Flood Debris is a cleverly plotted, satisfyingly twisty mystery that was a huge favourite with the HarperCollins reading team. I adored it. Dinuka McKenzie is a fabulous writer and Kate Miles is a brilliantly fresh addition to the crime fiction scene: ambitious and determined, while also juggling the demands of family life, with a toddler and a baby on the way. I am so excited to share this book with the thousands of readers who are going to love it as much as we all do.’

Dinuka McKenzie says: ‘Thank you to HarperCollins for this amazing opportunity. I am thrilled and humbled by the judges’ decision. I entered this competition with nil expectations and was blown away to be shortlisted amongst such talented writers. To win feels like a complete dream. Mostly, I am so excited to have the opportunity to work with the brilliant Anna Valdinger and a team who believes in my manuscript as much as I do! Detective Kate Miles has been cooped up in my laptop for too long and she can’t wait to stretch her wings within the pages of an actual real-life book!’

HarperCollins has also announced three runners-up who will each receive a written assessment of their manuscript from HarperCollins. The runners-up are The Tuesday Afternoon Murder Club by Karli Florisson, The List by Megan Albany and Roses of Budapest by Rachael Keene.

HarperCollins Publishers Australia launched The Banjo Prize for Australian fiction writers in 2018 in a quest to find Australia’s next great storyteller. In 2020, The Banjo Prize received nearly 250 submissions. Applicants were required to submit a full manuscript of adult commercial fiction, a 500-word synopsis and a 200-word biographical statement.



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Screen Deal for McAlister’s Valentine

3E02180A-40ED-40C7-924F-79A65C6C6F48Alex Adsett Literary is delighted to announce that the incredible YA supernatural series Valentine by Jodi McAlister has been optioned for screen by Like A Photon Creative.  The trilogy, Valentine, Ironheart, and Misrule, published by Penguin Random House features a team of teens all born on Valentine’s Day, as they face up to mysterious events surrounding the disappearance of one of them. Like A Photon is an award winning production company of short and feature films, including forthcoming Combat Wombat and The Wishmas Tree.

Agent Alex Adsett says, “Jodi’s Valentine series is the perfect YA package – strong female characters, great friendships, romance, and murder fairies. I’m thrilled this amazing story is heading for the screen!”.

Author Dr Jodi McAlister, lecturer in writing and literature at Deakin University, says:  “My Valentine series is full of smart, tough women, and I’m delighted to be working with the smart, tough women of Like a Photon in bringing it to the screen – although I hope we don’t have to face off with quite as many terrifying fairies as Pearl and co do along the way!”.

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Sarah Epstein’s Small Spaces optioned for Film

Small Spaces film contract instaSarah Epstein’s award winning young adult thriller Small Spaces has been optioned for film by the award winning and highly regarded producers, Triptych Pictures and US producer, Rebecca Green. In a deal brokered by agent Alex Adsett, Small Spaces is in development as a tense and exciting feature for the domestic and international market.

“We don’t pick and choose what to be afraid of. Our fears pick us.”

Tash Carmody has been traumatised since childhood when she witnessed her gruesome imaginary friend Sparrow lure young Mallory Fisher away from a carnival. Now seventeen, Tash starts to see Sparrow again as disturbing memories resurface, and Mallory is the key to a dark secret connecting them.

Small Spaces is a beautifully crafted psychological thriller for ages 14 years and up. It is tense, gripping, and messes with your head in the best possible way.

Triptych, best known for international blockbuster The Babadook and TV mini-series, Wake In Fright, and Rebecca Green, the producer of It Follows, have combined forces with writer/director, Shelly Lauman on this adaptation. Shelly Lauman’s latest short, Birdie, screened at the Toronto International Film Festival and was acquired by Fox Searchlight. Producers Kristian Moliere and Rebecca Green say:

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Pitching opportunities in a time of COVID

I am pretty clear on my submission guidelines that authors who would like to submit to the agency need to have met a few criteria – they need to be recommended by someone I know and trust (Sidenote #1 this means you have to ask someone I know to actually get in touch and recommend you, not just have vaguely mentioned my name one time), or they need to have met me somewhere and had a bit of a chat. This includes formal pitch sessions, at a pre-book launch mingle, or over the morning tea cupcakes at a conference. (Sidenote #2: if you’re an emerging author who has been bumping into me at conferences for years, this counts as an invitation to pitch!) .  I understand that event cupcakes and in-person book launches are not as available as they were before, but there are still plenty of online opportunities to meet me, or many industry people, if you keep an eye out for them.

I have been getting a lot of submission queries about how people can meet me, and while this is a little frustrating because I’ve been doing so many online events,  I thought I would do a shout out for a Pitching Workshop that New England Writers Centre and I have just agreed to move from in-person to online, and open it up to everyone. There are just a few spots, but book in for this Thursday 13th August from 4 – 6.30pm, and get an overview of agents, publishing, pitching, and the chance to pitch your manuscript to the room for feedback.

The Perfect Pitch with Alex Adsett

Thursday 13th August 4 -6.30pm

Hosted by New England Writers’ Centre

This will probably be my last one of these until November, although I’m also appearing online at Romance Writers Conference this weekend, talking about The Top Ten Tricks and Traps of Publishing Contracts.

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Lack of diversity in Australian publishing

ToniM-01 if you are free“If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else” – Toni Morrison

Like everyone, I have been shocked and horrified by the violent racial discrimination exploding once again in the US, and shamed and horrified by the ongoing racial discrimination here in Australia. I have not been silent about it, but I know there is always more I could be doing to help stop the discrimination.

In my industry of publishing, there is some acknowledgment of the lack of diversity in what is published, with earnest attempts to redress the balance, but much more, of course, needs to be done.

As an agent, I believe stories have the power to make a difference, and while I have been looking for diverse stories and authors since I started, I want to make it clear that despite my officially closed submissions, the door is always open to authors from different backgrounds to the mainstream of Australia – First Nations, authors of colour, authors from different cultures, neurotypical authors, authors with disability, authors from varied socio-economic circumstances. I want a great story, told well. I want stories that will change the world for the better. And I want to work with authors who have those stories.

Saying that, we can’t admit the unequal representation of diverse authors, without also confronting the publishing industry itself is even more lacking in diversity.  So, for what it is worth, if any people of colour, First Nations, or anyone outside neurotypical, affluent, white suburban Australia wants to chat about career options in the publishing industry and ways to break in, please get in touch and I would love to find time for a call or email.

There are some amazing groups and initiatives trying to support diversity in the publishing industry, so I’m just adding my voice to offer advice if it might be helpful to anyone.  Please get in touch if this might be you. I’m not in a position to be hiring anyone, but talking about the industry I love, its problems and joys, is some small thing I can do.

  • If you’re interesting in chatting about a career in publishing, email me at alexadsett[@]alexadsett.[com.]au.
  • If you’re an author who fits the submission criteria, please following the submission guidelines here and email agent[@]alexadsett.[com.]au.

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