Announcing the Sowell Emerging Writers Prize

The Sowell Collection at Texas Tech University, in partnership with and Texas Tech University Press, invites book-length manuscript submissions of nonfiction in English on themes about and related to the natural world by writers who have published no more than one book in any genre. We are especially interested in submissions that explore the relationship between human communities and nature and may be informed by scientific inquiry and/or personal experience. The winner of the Sowell Emerging Writers Prize will receive $1,000 and publication by Texas Tech University Press.

The Sowell Emerging Writers Prize will accept submissions in nonfiction, poetry, and fiction on a rotational basis and in that order: nonfiction in 2022, poetry in 2023, fiction in 2024, and so on.

The Sowell Family Collection in Literature, Community and the Natural World at Texas Tech University holds the personal and professional papers of prominent American writers on the natural world. The Sowell Collection was established in 2001 when it acquired the papers of National Book Award–winning writer Barry Lopez. Since then, the Collection has acquired the papers of some thirty American writers including Rick Bass, David James Duncan, Gretel Ehrlich, William Kittredge, J. Drew Lanham, Bill McKibben, Susan Brind Morrow, Gary Nabhan, Robert Michael Pyle, David Quammen, Pattiann Rogers, and others. The Collection has also acquired the archives of the Orion Society and developed supporting collections of papers by Edward Abbey and Edward Hoagland. In 2003, Barry Lopez was appointed Texas Tech University’s first Visiting Distinguished Scholar, a position he held until his passing in 2020.

Texas Tech University remains grateful to former TTU Regent James E. Sowell and his family for their generous support of the Sowell Collection and the Sowell Emerging Writers Prize.

Submission Guidelines

Submissions open: August 1

Deadline for submissions: October 31

The winner will receive book publication by Texas Tech University Press and a $1,000 honorarium.

Submissions will be available through Submittable at The reading fee is $25.

Manuscripts must be primarily in English, double-spaced, and 50,000 to 85,000 words long (approximately 180–300 pages).

A list of finalists will be announced in February. The contest winner will be announced in March, with publication expected the following spring.

Submissions must be previously unpublished (publication of excerpts or individual essays in literary journals and magazines is acceptable, as are portions that contain previously published chapbooks up to 24,000 words). All forms of literary nonfiction are eligible (including but not limited to memoir, personal essays, investigative reporting, science writing, etc.). Simultaneous submissions are acceptable. Please withdraw your manuscript promptly if it is accepted elsewhere for publication. Include a bio of fewer than 100 words in your cover letter.

Do not include your name on the title page or in the header or footer of the manuscript.

The Sowell Emerging Writers Prize encourages underrepresented voices to submit their work for consideration. Current employees or volunteers of the Sowell Collection, TTU Honors College, TTU Press, and are ineligible.

Please direct all questions to [email protected]