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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Simultaneous Submissions: The One Rule you Must Follow

If you're a regular reader of my blog, you may already know that I’m a big fan of reslanting, or taking an article idea and coming up with new angles or approaches and then pitching it to other markets. I often send the same idea to different markets (a/k/a "simultaneous submitting") at the same time—with one major caveat. I simulanteously submit all the time--as long as the markets involved aren't competitors.

Let me explain. Say I come up with a story idea on developing a better relationship with your in-laws. I might send that query to a bridal magazine like Bridal Guide and then tweak it to apply to marriages of all types (not just new ones) and send it to Family Circle at the same time. My logic is that readers of one magazine aren’t likely to be reading the other—and the publications aren't competing against each other for readers. (Note that if both pieces are assigned, I’ll write two different articles, with different angles, different sources, and different approaches.) However, I won’t query the same idea to Bridal Guide and Bride's at the same time—even if it’s timely and I want to get an assignment as soon as possible.

Here’s why: what happens if editors at both bridal publications want the story? Even if my contracts allow it (and one or both may prohibit me from covering the same topic for a certain time), I guarantee one of them (and possibly both!) is going to be rather upset when she discovers I’m also covering the topic for her competitor! There goes my relationship with the editor and the magazine...likely for good.

Freelancing isn't just about getting assignments. It's about building relationships with editors. So, if Bridal Guide doesn’t want the story, sure, I’ll query Bride's (and no, I won’t say, “hey, so Bridal Guide isn’t interested…are you?” in my pitch!) But I don't simultaneously submit to competing markets—ever. I’d rather lose some time on a pitch than run the risk of losing an editor—or a market—for good.

What about you? Do you simultaneously submit, and if so, do you ever pitch competitors at the same time? Why or why not?