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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?


  1. Hi Kelly! I have a question about simultaneous querying. Over at the Renegade Writer Blog, this concept was recently discussed. Linda says, "I would pitch the same idea to competing pubs and write it up for the first one to accept it. And if by some lucky chance I got an acceptance from another magazine, I’d tell them I already sold the idea."

    What do you think about this? Do you feel like submitting the same query to competing magazines is acceptable if you only agree to write the article for one magazine?

    If I'm trying to place an article on, let's say, closet organization, would you recommend that I pitch the story to several magazines at the same time (even if they are competitors), but only accept an assignment from one (assuming at least one magazine wants it)? I know you recommend pitching different slants to non-competing magazines (which is a great idea!), but it can be difficult sometimes to wait around (maybe forever) to hear back from one editor before pitching your idea to another editor. What do you think?

    Thanks so much!

  2. Hi, Kate--

    Thanks for your post, and question. Linda and I agree on just about everything, but here I'd stick to my guns and start with one (competing) publication at a time. However, I would follow up pretty quickly, and if no response from the FU, move on. Check out my August 1 post for more on follow-ups.

    Hope this helps! :)