Applications open for the 2021 CompleteMS Programme on 1 March in any given year.

Members only service badgeThe NZSA CompleteMS Programme is for writers who have progressed a specific piece of work to an advanced stage (i.e. have taken a completed manuscript through a number of drafts) and require the objective view of an experienced assessor. The programme is open to all writers, particularly those working in a new genre.

The successful applicants will have their manuscripts read and will receive a detailed report on its strengths and weaknesses and suggestions for improvement. The assessor may also suggest suitable publishers who might consider the applicant’s work.

The assessment also includes an optional 1 to 2hr Q & A with the assessor (either in person or via phone / Zoom / Skype).

An assessment can assist an author to improve the quality of their work. While publishers may favourably consider manuscripts which have been revised after an assessment, there is no guarantee of publication. This ultimately depends on the publishers’ list, what else is being published in your genre and a number of other factors which impact on the literary or commercial viability of a book.

The selection panel will choose the successful applicants who will be matched with an assessor who specialises in the genre of the manuscript submitted. It is expected that the applicant’s manuscript will be of a standard that reflects the more advanced skill level of the writer.

There are 13 assessments available this year.

Each assessment that is granted is worth an average of $700 to $1000 to the recipient.

The application deadline is: 28 May in any given year.

Successful applicants will be notified by 1 July and will be asked to send their complete manuscript to National Office by 13 July – applicants must be prepared to send in their manuscript promptly or their place may be forfeited.

The decision of the selection panel is final and it is unable to provide feedback on unsuccessful applications.  If any applicant contacts a member of the selection panel with regards this programme their application will not be admissible.


  • This programme is open to financial members of the New Zealand Society of Authors Te Puni Kaituhi O Aotearoa (PEN NZ) Inc
  • All fiction (including plays) and non-fiction will be considered (excluding screenplays, picture books).
  • Please note that the maximum length is 100,000 words – word count must appear on the MS. We cannot accept applications for any manuscript that is longer than 100,000 words.
  • Incorrect word counts will result in disqualification.

The selection panel will be looking for applicants who:

  • Have progressed their work to a more complete stage but require the objective view of an experienced assessor to provide constructive critiquing of a specific piece of work.
  • Have attained a standard that reflects a more advanced skill level than applicants for the NZSA Mentor Programme.
  • Require only one or, at most, two assessments to bring their work to a publishable standard.
  • Demonstrate a commitment to excellence.
  • It is expected that the selection panel will endeavour to select a balance of work from each genre group, but not to the point of selecting non qualifying work to make up the numbers.
  • This year, as part of New Zealand Society of Authors Te Puni Kaituhi O Aotearoa (PEN NZ) Inc commitment to diversity, 3 assessments are tagged for emerging writers identifying as Maori, Pasifika, and Asian.

Additional information about filling out your application

  1. The application fee for this programme is $25.
  2. Applicants must submit an online application by 28 May.
  3. Applications should include:
  • Completed application form
  • A PDF of up to two page synopsis or outline of your project (1.5 spacing)
  • A PDF of a sample of your work-in-progress (for example, the first 1-2 chapters of a prose work, three short stories, 12 poems, a first act). Format should be 12pt, 2.0 spacing, wide margins both sides.

Tips on the correct format for writing samples

  1. Use a plain font. (Black, 12-point, Times New Roman, Ariel or similar are ideal.) 
  2. Use standard A4 page size with wide margins on all sides
  3. Set alignment to left justified
  4. Use a single space after full stops
  5. Use double-spaced line spacing
  6. Format paragraphs according to genre standards. (Fiction authors usually use indented paragraphs. Nonfiction authors may opt for no indentation so long as paragraphs are separated by a full paragraph break.)
  7. Number your pages

All the best with your application!

This programme is made possible thanks to support from Creative New Zealand.