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Writing Competition

Tell Us Your Story!

Paul Knight, now an assistant editor for Texas Monthly, earned first place in the Mayborn’s 2012 manuscript contest for Devil on the Plains, the true story of John Coffee Hays and his fearsome company of rangers on the Western frontier. The book was sold to Penguin. No release date has been set. Susannah Charleson’s Scent of the Missing was published by Houghton Miffflin. Tony Schwalm’s “Trek,” won first place in the Mayborn’s personal essay contest. The essay was transformed into a book, The Guerilla Factory published by Simon and Schuster in 2012.

Doug Swanson, author, Blood Aces: The Wild Ride of Benny Binion, The Texas Gangster Who created Vegas Poker, credits the Mayborn Conference for the publication of his book by Viking in 2014. "This book was born at the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference, the annual North Texas gathering of which George Getschow is director, guiding force, and tribal chief...It's no exaggeration to say it never would have happened without him. George has changed the lives of many writers much for the better. I am one of them." 

Enter the Mayborn Writing Competition for a chance to win cash prizes and have your work published.

Conference attendees will once again have the opportunity to submit their best writing samples to the 12th annual Mayborn Writing Competition. Winners can win cash and prizes in three categories: personal essay, reported narrative and book manuscript. Don’t miss out! Details can be found below in each of the applications. Applications are due June 1.

As part of the 2016 Mayborn Writing Competition, separate workshops will be held prior to the conference for the top 50 reported narratives and personal essay submissions and the top 20 manuscript submissions. Entrants pay an additional fee above the registration fee. You may enter more than one category. For example, you may submit to our book manuscript contest, our reported narrative contest and our personal essay contest. However, you can only be in one workshop and win one prize. Winners are recognized at the Literary Lights Dinner at the Mayborn Conference. Cash prizes are mailed to winners after the conference. Our three categories are:

Reported Narrative Application

  • 1st Place - $3000
  • 2nd Place - $2000
  • 3rd Place - $1000

Personal Essay Application

  • 1st Place - $3000
  • 2nd Place - $2000
  • 3rd Place - $1000

Book Manuscript Application

  • 1st Place $3000 and book published by UNT Press
  • 2nd Place $2,000
  • 3rd Place $1,000


The ten best narratives will be published in Ten Spurs, a literary nonfiction journal published by the Mayborn Graduate Institute of Journalism. The 2015 winners’ pieces will be in the 2016 Ten Spurs and will be published just prior to the 2016 Mayborn Conference. The ten narratives are comprised of the three winners of the reported narrative, the three winners of the personal essay and four runners-up selected from these two categories.

The winner of the book manuscript competition earns a cash prize, and an option to sign a provisional book contract with UNT Press.

The 2016 book manuscript winner and the 2016 writers selected for publication in Ten Spurs will participate in book signings at the 2017 Mayborn Conference.

NOTE: Any person who is employed full-time or part-time in any capacity with the Mayborn School of Journalism or Mayborn Graduate Institute of Journalism is not eligible to participate.

For any questions, please contact Jo Ann Livingston:

Jo Ann Livingston
Writing Contest Coordinator