Contest Procedures and Ethical Considerations

Ethical Considerations:

Tupelo Press endorses and abides by the Code of Ethics developed by the Council of Literary Magazines and Press (CLMP):

CLMP’s community of independent literary publishers believes that ethical contests serve our shared goal: to connect writers and readers by publishing exceptional writing. We believe that intent to act ethically, clarity of guidelines, and transparency of process form the foundation of an ethical contest. To that end, we agree to:

  1. Conduct our contests as ethically as possible and to address any unethical behavior on the part of our readers, judges, or editors;
  2. To provide clear and specific contest guidelines — defining conflict of interest for all parties involved; and
  3. To make the mechanics of our selection process available to the public. This Code recognizes that different contest models produce different results, but that each model can be run ethically. We have adopted this Code to reinforce our integrity and dedication as a publishing community and to ensure that our contests contribute to a vibrant literary heritage.

Tupelo Press is fully committed to fairness, and we believe that contest procedures should be transparent. If you have questions about our policies or practices, please do not hesitate to inquire by email.

Tupelo Press is a nonprofit educational organization certified by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3), tax-exempt corporation.

How We Judge Contests:

To be certain that each manuscript submitted to one of our prize competitions receives the fairest and most thoughtful consideration, all manuscripts are given to readers anonymously and are judged anonymously.

When a manuscript is received, all identifying material, acknowledgment pages, cover letters and biographical information are removed and filed for reference at the conclusion of the competition. The manuscripts are then sent to readers, who are instructed to “grade” each manuscript on a scale of 1-5, and to make notes and recommendations on each of the “5” and “high 4” manuscripts. All of the “5” and “high 4” manuscripts are then returned for further consideration by the editors of Tupelo Press. That process, too, is anonymous. In a given competition, we often find about 75—150 manuscripts in the “high 4” to “5” category.

The editors then narrow the field to 50 semifinalists, which are then “ranked.” Generally, the top 25 manuscripts become finalists. After a winner has been announced, all decisions about which additional manuscripts are to be published are made by the Editor-in-Chief, in consultation with other editors. Tupelo Press uses new readers each year. All readers are nationally recognized poets trusted and respected by Tupelo Press. Tupelo Press does not use students or interns as readers at any stage of its competitions.

Tupelo Press is thoroughly committed to safeguarding the integrity of our contests.

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