When Jackie Bailey got the call to say that she had secured a book deal, she was standing on the beach near her home in Wollongong watching her daughter play.
"I was in shock...I was really excited, it just felt like my head was going to explode," she says.
"Relief was the big emotion because...the book had been shortlisted and longlisted for stuff so you keep thinking 'Oh it's gonna happen, it's gonna happen.' And it doesn't happen. And so, I'd kind of shelved it in my mind."
But now, after years of trying to find a home for her story, Bailey's debut work The Eulogy has been acquired by Hardie Grant Books.
Bailey never expected that it would be her entry into the 2020 SBS Emerging Writers' Competition that would get her manuscript over the line.
Bailey's submission made the competition long list, which meant that she was awarded the opportunity to have the entry published in Roots: Home Is Who We Are, an anthology of the competition's top 30 entries.
And it was Bailey's involvement in the anthology that really got the ball rolling on the book deal.
"When the editor from Hardie Grant contacted the anthology authors...I said, 'Here it is, and it's part of a longer manuscript if you want to see that.'
"It was kind of like having a champion at Hardie Grant [which] was really, really amazing."
But Bailey points out that the SBS Emerging Writers' Competition, a competition dedicated to unearthing new talent, was instrumental in even getting her manuscript in front of a publisher in the first place.
"I can say 100 per cent that I wouldn't have this book deal without that competition.
"It's really, really hard for writers in Australia to get their work into print. Statistically, it's definitely harder if you're a writer of colour."
To have a competition that seeks out storytellers from diverse backgrounds and champions them made all the difference for Bailey.
"You've got SBS kind of vouching for you in a way, and then it gets in front of the eyes of the publisher."
When SBS launched the inaugural Emerging Writers' Competition in 2020, Director of TV and Online Content, Marshall Heald said, "We're excited about the opportunity to discover and support new talent through the SBS Emerging Writers' Competition and elevate the next generation of diverse voices through this important initiative."
Bailey echoes the importance of that support, saying, getting through the door "is super hard for anybody, but I do think especially for people from diverse backgrounds. And I guess SBS realised that and set up the competition."
Reacting to news of Bailey's book deal, Heald said, "Jackie Bailey's story was one of the outstanding entries from the 2020 Emerging Writers' Competition, and we are so pleased it not only was included in the competition anthology Roots but has now been expanded into book form."
Bailey's book, The Eulogy, is scheduled to be published on 1 June 2022.