There’s a new kid on the publishing block. Well, okay, maybe not a new kid, but an old friend wearing a new get-up.

Express Media this week launched Hologram, a new publishing project that continues their quest to assist young writers. In early 2014, Hologram will bring to the world two novella-length books by Australian writers under 30.

The two accepted submissions will be edited and published by Johannes Jakob, who has honed his editing skills at Voiceworks and The Victorian Writer. Currently he’s fiction editor at The Lifted Brow, and when he’s not pouring over words, he’s talking about them on JOMAD I Heard You Like Books? the podcast he produces and co-hosts.

Bridging the gap between literary journals and a full-length novel, Hologram’s focus on novellas will help burgeoning and emerging writers turn their pen to a form longer than the short and shorter than the long, offering a middle-ground for experimentation.

Experimentation may well be at the heart of Hologram’s agenda, with their website promoting the new initiative as a place for writing ‘too weird to go elsewhere’.

The emergence of a novella publisher is less surprising than Tupac’s holographic resurrection at Coachella, in fact, it follows a recent trend of excavating the mid-form in publishing.

In October last year GriffithREVIEW gave it a go in their annual fiction edition, The Novella Project, which featured six not-quite-novels from Australian writers Mary-Rose MacColl, Lyndel Caffrey, Katerina Cosgrove, Ed Wright, Jim Hearn and Christine Kearney. In popular fiction, Twilight author Stephanie Myer released The Second Life of Bree Banner as a novella, and cyberspace is full of self-published e-book novellas.

Jakob explains that the novella word length, between 20,000 and 60,000 words, reflects ‘the bridging aspect’ of the program. ‘We almost see it as a capstone for people who might have come through Express Media, almost like a graduating thing,’ he tells us. ‘So maybe they had stories in Voiceworks or wherever, so this is the final shove we them in going out into the real world.’

For those familiar with Express Media, you’ll know that most of their programs are for writers 25 years and under. If you’ve found out about Express Media or Voiceworks once you were 25, you’ve probably experienced the disappointment of not knowing earlier. Hologram is giving applicants an extra five years, accepting submissions for writers 30 and under.

Apart from responding to feedback that Express Media routinely receives from over-25s, Jakob believes that writers with those extra five years may have had more time to hone their craft, perfect their style and decide what they want to communicate, making the novella length the perfect stomping ground.

‘They’re in a position where that all feels settled enough for them to want to apply to a longer piece,’ he says.

Hologram is made possible through the Australia Council for the Arts’ Early Career Residency program, which is funding Jakob to broaden his editorial skills through the Hologram project.

Manuscript submissions are now open, closing on 11 August.