I’ve just had a cheery email from the Tusculum Review to say they’re extending the deadline for their competition, judged by Amy Sturgis, to 1 June – from 1 April! Competitions try to present an extended deadline as them being nice and giving more time, but in fact it’s very unfair to the people who made the effort to meet their original deadline, especially if they are offered no chance to make further revisions (and that never happens). What’s particularly odd here is that their website still gives the original deadline – so who else do they think is going to enter a competition which appears to have closed over a month ago? Surely they could not be extending the deadline for the benefit of particular people they already know?
I have asked them to withdraw my entry, and I would advise anyone else who played fair to do the same. It’s not to be expected that they will be honest enough to refund entry fees, but I think the point needs to be made.
I received the following response from Kelsey Trom, for which I am grateful. There are a couple of misunderstandings here which I will not try to unpick.
I’m truly sorry to hear that our decision to extend the deadline of the contest is unethical in your view, and I especially regret that you feel ill-used and swindled by our organization. I have withdrawn your entry as requested and am happy to send you a refund of the entry fee. Our organization is small, so our means of refunding entries is by check–if you’ll send me your W-9, I’ll have the business office send you a check for $15.00.
We, the genre editors, discussed the decision at length, and felt that it was in line with the contest guidelines as published–we have always reserved the right to extend the deadline if we don’t receive the anticipated number of submissions. On occasion, we have exercised that right. This year, in particular, seemed like a time in which an extended deadline would give more authors the time to enter, so we would be able to give the final judge, Amy Sturgis, more than a dozen stories to weigh.
It was in the name of equal access that we made this decision: when we announced the contest in November, we did not anticipate the ways that writers with children, sick relatives, or compressed school schedules would be unable to meet an April 1 deadline. When we saw the low number of entries–much lower than usual–we understood.
We have not changed our rules–all submissions are still in the running. For my communication missteps that apparently made this unclear, I apologize.
I pointed out to Kelsey that I wouldn’t be able to cash an American cheque, but that Submittable has a refund facility. I haven’t heard back on that so far, but they have updated the information on their website.