National Magazine Awards > Frequently Asked Questions

This post has been updated for 2012. With the annual NMA submissions season about to begin on December 1, the NMAF is rolling out some answers to some general questions about the awards. If you have a question not addressed here, leave a comment or contact us. [Version française ici]

1. Who wins National Magazine Awards?
NMAs are awarded to content creators. In most categories this means it is the individual writer, photographer, illustrator or stylist who receives recognition and the award (and the prize money). In certain package and full-book categories the editors, art directors or a team of staff and contributors are rewarded. The magazine or website that published the winning work shares in the bragging rights and enjoys a spike in popularity. To search for past winners by year, category, individual or magazine, visit the NMAF Awards Archive.

2. What is the prize money?
A Gold NMA includes a cash prize of $1000. A Silver NMA includes a cash prize of $500. Where there is more than one creator named on a single winning entry, the cash prize will be split evenly between those creators. If there is a tie for Gold or Silver between two or more winning entries, both entries will receive a share of the stipulated cash prize. (When there is a tie for Gold in a categor, a Silver award is not given. If there are three or fewer nominees, then only a Gold award will be given.)

3. Where does my submission fee go?
The NMAF is a non-profit organization and all entry fees go towards prize money, the administrative costs of sorting submissions and facilitating the judging process.

4. Who is eligible for a National Magazine Award?
To be named as a creator on any submission, you must be a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident. Your work must be original (not stock or previously published in any form), commissioned by the magazine or website and published within the eligible calendar year. Magazine and websites must be a majority Canadian owned, publish at least two issues per year and meet Canadian magazine industry’s Code of Reader & Advertiser Engagement. See the NMAF’s Eligibility and Rules for full details before submitting.

5. What is a magazine?
The NMAF’s guiding principle for magazine publishing is that the publication, whether print, tablet or website, must self describe as a magazine; be editorial in nature (that is, it must have and submit a clear editorial mandate); be the product of an editorial process; and be published regularly. A print or tablet publication must be published at least twice per year. A magazine website must have been launched before December 1, 2012. All magazines must meet the requirements of the NMAF’s Eligibility and Rules.

6. In which category is my work eligible?
It is the responsibility of the submitter to determine which of the NMA Categories is best suited to your work. Most written and visual work may be entered in more than one category except where specific restrictions are stated. (There is a separate fee for each individual entry.) The judges—not the NMAF—will determine whether your entry is appropriate to the category’s definition. Any entry deemed by judges to be entered in the wrong category will be disqualified.

7. Who are the judges for the NMAs?
Each year the NMAF relies on the expertise of more than two hundred volunteer judges to evaluate and rank all submissions. In composing its judging panels the NMAF strives for diversity of geography, language and expertise. Judges are recognized experts in a particular field of magazine publishing, editing, design, content creation and business, and may have an expertise in a subject relevant to a particular category.

8. How many judges evaluate my work?
Submissions in written categories are evaluated in a first tier by separate English- and French-language juries for each category. A shortlist of top entries from those panels, proportional by language, goes on to a second, bilingual jury for each category. Thus by the time a winner is selected, six judges have weighed in equally on all finalists. Submissions in visual, integrated and special award categories are evaluated by juries of 3-5 members, one or more of whom is bilingual.

9. What are judges looking for?
Judges in written categories look for excellence in writing style, content, overall impact and successful engagement of the intended reader, as well as the entry’s relevance to the category’s definition. Judges in visual categories assess the aesthetic as well as the practical concerns of each entry, evaluating the functionality of the visual material and its appropriateness to the category, to the text it accompanies and to the magazine medium. Judges in integrated and special categories follow the guidelines of each category’s definition. See the NMAF’s Judging Process for full details.

10. What happens if a category does not receive enough submissions?
Categories are offered on a trial basis when they are first introduced. If not enough submissions are received to provide a legitimate competition, the NMAF reserves the right to cancel that category after submissions are complete. In the event of a category cancellation all submissions fees will be refunded in that category.

11. We’re a small magazine. Could you help me with the submission fees?
Yes! The NMAF offers co-financing to print and digital magazines with an annual revenue of under $250,000 and that meet one of two circulations levels. Although as a charity we have a total fixed amount we are able to offer, there is no limit to the number of submissions a publication may enter.  The application process is simple and funds are allocated on a first come, first served basis. The deadline for applications is December 14, 2012. Read more here.


12. What types of digital and web-based magazines are eligible for the NMAs?
An eligible digital publication may be a Magazine Website or a Tablet Magazine. All publications wishing to enter the NMAs must meet the requirements of the NMAF’s Eligibility and Rules.

13. What exactly is meant by a Magazine Website?
A Magazine Website may be either the companion website of a print magazine title or an online-only publication that self-identifies as a magazine. Content from magazine websites may enter most awards categories with some exceptions. See the list of categories for details.

14. What exactly is meant by a Tablet Magazine?
A Tablet Magazine is a publication that produces a complete issue of a magazine but distributes it digitally on a tablet platform. Like a print magazine issue it should be a static creation, as opposed to a website that is updated frequently. Tablet magazines may enter most awards categories with some exceptions. See the list of categories for details.

15. Are there categories just for digital publications?
Yes. The categories Blogs, Editorial Package–Web, Magazine Website Design and Magazine Website of the Year are open exclusively to magazine websites. The category Tablet Magazine of the Year is open exclusively to tablet editions. The category Online Videos is open to magazine websites and tablet editions.

16. How do I submit an individual entry that appeared in a tablet edition?
Written-category submissions require three (3) sets of photocopies of the entry no matter the platform of publication. A PDF of the entire entry is required for all submissions (in all categories) and you will be prompted to upload your PDF in the online submission form. Please upload an original PDF, not a snapshot taken from the tablet edition and subsequently converted to a PDF.

17. How do I submit a full-book tablet edition for consideration?
These include Tablet Magazine entries for Art Direction for an Entire Issue, Best Single Issue and Tablet Magazine of the Year. The submission form for these categories will require the iTunes URL to your magazine app. We’ll also require one of two things: either that the issue to be judged be made free to download or a promotional code (or similar) be included to ensure that the issue may be viewed by the NMA judges for free. This step is important – requiring judges to pay for tablet entries would be like asking them to buy magazines at the newsstand to evaluate print entries. Any full-book Digital Magazine entry that requires payment to be viewed will be disqualified. A PDF is also required for these categories; submitters may upload a PDF of just the cover of the issue.

18. Can online content really compete against print in written categories?
Yes. Judges in written categories look for excellence in writing style, content, overall impact and successful engagement of the intended reader, as well as the entry’s relevance to the category’s definition. Any article that meets these requirements likely will be received well by the judges, whether it was originally published in print or online. (All submitters in written categories, whether print or digital, must submit six sets of photocopies of their work in accordance with the submissions guidelines. Judges will have access to both print and digital (PDF) versions of all entries as well as the editorial mandate of the publication.)

19. Is a blog eligible for a National Magazine Award?
Yes. New this year the NMAF is offering a written category for Blogs, which is open to submissions from a regular series of original written content produced by a magazine website that has a recognizable unifying voice or theme. Entries may consist of up to ten (10) blog posts by one or more authors. A blog or collection of blogs produced by a magazine website may be a component of an entry in the categories Editorial Package–Web and Magazine Website of the Year.

20. Who are the judges for digital categories?
Juries for the categories open exclusively to magazine websites and tablet magazines are composed of 3-4 individuals at least one of whom is bilingual. Each judging panel evaluates its assigned entries and convenes by teleconference to determine the finalists and winners. Each panel consists of at least one digital publishing editor, one designer and one writer and/or publisher. Read more about the NMAF Judging Process for all categories.

21. When do the judges evaluate digital categories?
Juries for Magazine Website Design and Magazine Website of the Year have approximately one month (from mid-February to mid-March following the submissions deadline) to evaluate live online content before meeting to decide on finalists and winners. This means that the design and content of the websites that appear during this one-month window will form the basis for evaluating entries in these categories.

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