National Magazine Awards FAQ
Updated for 2015
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, 2015. 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. Are full-book entries eligible in written categories?
In most cases, entries in written categories are open only to individual articles. However, in the case where the entire issue of the magazine constitutes a single article (such as a listings issue), that issue may be eligible as long as it fits the category definition. The NMAF reserves the right for its judges to determine whether a full-book entry is eligible.
The written category Editorial Package is specifically open to a collection of articles on a related theme in a single issue. Where the entire issue of a magazine consists of a single editorial package, that entire issue may be eligible in this category.
12. We’re a small magazine. Is there a special offer for our entry fees? UPDATED
Yes! The NMAF offers a Small Magazine Rebate to print and digital magazines with an annual revenue of under $200,000. The small magazine rebate entitles all eligible publications to enter a second entry AT NO COST when they submit at least one entry. The deadline to apply for the small magazine rebate is January 4. Read more here.
13. 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. Digital content is eligible in most categories. See specific categories for restrictions.
14. 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.
15. 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.
16. Are there categories just for digital publications? UPDATED
The NMAF is proud to launch a new program this year exclusively open to Canadian digital publishers: the Digital Publishing Awards. The DPAs is a national, bilingual awards program facilitated in the same rigorous and transparent way as the NMAs. Digital publications are invited to submit their best work of 2015 for awards in 15 categories. The Call for Entries will open in January 2016.
Although no category is solely reserved for digital publications, tablet magazines and magazine websites are eligible to enter most categories, including Editorial Package. See the list of categories for details.
17. How do I submit an individual entry that appeared in a tablet edition?
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.
18. How do I submit a full-book tablet edition for consideration?
These include tablet magazine entries for Art Direction for an Entire Issue and Best Single Issue. The submission form for these categories will require the iTunes URL to your magazine app. We request that the issue be made available for free or that a promotion code be provided. If judges are required to pay for content, the NMAF will invoice the submitter for the additional expenses. A PDF is also required for these categories; for full-book categories, submitters may upload a PDF of just the cover of the issue.
19. 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. Judges will have access to both printed and digital (PDF) versions of all entries as well as the editorial mandate of the publication.
20. Is a blog eligible for a National Magazine Award?
Yes. Blogs are explicitly eligible in the category Columns provided they meet the category definition.