Announcing the Iron Horse Prize

Throughout 2021, our 50th anniversary year, we will not only reflect on past publishing endeavors but also look ahead to fresh initiatives. One such venture is our new Iron Horse Prize for a first book of collected prose. 

For young and emerging writers, it has become more and more difficult to publish poetry, short stories, and collected essays. And if you hope to be commercial novelist, typically you must publish something short to get noticed. Moreover, the audience for these genres has shrunk, as has financial support from state and national arts programs, so it’s been about as hard for publishers as it has for writers.  

We at TTUP are trying to buck the trend by continuing to support the Walt McDonald First-Book Prize in Poetry. Now, we hope to create an additional opportunity for emerging writers with the Iron Horse Prize. We are proud to partner with another institution on the Texas Tech campus, the Iron Horse Literary Review 

With this, we officially announce the prize and hope to extend as wide a call as possible for submissions.  

The 2021 Iron Horse Prize will be awarded to a first book of collected prose. The author of the winning entry will be awarded $1,000 and publication of their collection as a book in summer 2022.  

We are looking for emerging writers who have yet to publish collections of their own prose, either short fiction or nonfiction. The Iron Horse Prize seeks stories from and about places and people that are often overlooked and underrepresented in contemporary letters, but we have no preferences as to subjects or themes. Although entries may come from writers who have published individual essays or stories–including works collected in the submitted manuscript–we are far more interested in strong voices, diverse perspectives, and fresh takes on what it means to be human than on publishing credentials.  

Submissions will be open from June 15 to August 15. There will be a $15 entry fee, which directly supports the series and helps make it sustainable in the long term. Submissions between 150 and 250 pages are preferred. Please indicate the genre of your submission: short stories or essays. On July 15, we will accept a limited number of submissions free of charge. If you can afford to pay the fee, we ask that you reserve the free slots for those who may not be able to swing it otherwise. While only one book is guaranteed to receive $1,000 and publication, a select number of finalists will be named and all submissions will be considered for publication.  

If you miss the July 15 free submission day and would like to submit your work but cannot pay the fee, please feel welcome to contact Travis Snyder at Texas Tech University Press ([email protected]). 

Prize finalists will be announced in November–December 2021, and the winner will be named in January 2022. The winner will be chosen by Katie Cortese, director of Texas Tech University Press, fiction editor of Iron Horse Literary Review, associate professor of English at Texas Tech University, and author of Make Way for Her and Other Stories