Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Q&A a la Ann Landers: On Multiple Submissions

Question:

I have contacted you before and think [The Frugal Book Promoter] is great. I may have missed this in your book, but I wanted to know if you send articles to magazines, is there anything wrong with sending the same one's to different magazines at the same time?

Thank you so much,
Diana Dodson

Answer:

There isn't anything ethically wrong with sending the same article to several different magazines at once as long as you let the magazines you are contacting know when one of the others accepts your idea. The same is true for sending queries to literary agents and book publishers. In fact many who ask for exclusive submissions are aware that the practice is patently unfair to the author and rigged in favor of the convenience of the publisher or agent. One can hardly blame them for trying to make their jobs easier.

One of the reasons that some publishing entities object to the practice is that when writers do submit many at a time they sometimes forget to tailor each of the query letters for the publisher they are approaching.

Looking at it this way, these editors have good reason to expect exclusive submissions. Each magazine, newspaper, blog, or Web site will have a different style and will have published different articles in the past (maybe one similar to your idea), etc. So, unless you've done the research, the scatter-gun query technique usually doesn't work very well. Further, your query letter will have a better chance at success if the editor can tell that it is to directed solely to her and her magazine. But if authors and freelance writers tailor their letters as if they are exclusives but still send several at once, well--that seems to be a fair balance to me.

The query letter approach is the accepted one in the freelance world. The idea is to ascertain if the magazine has an interest in your story idea rather than writing your whole article first. You might want to write a couple lead paragraphs so that an editor can get a feel for your voice, but beyond that, you'll save yourself lots of time by waiting to do the rest. When an editor accepts, she may even suggest you take a whole new tack to the one you suggested.

As you know, you'll find a general template or two for query letters in The Frugal Editor along with information on how to avoid certain query letter booboos. You'll also find query letter samples and media release samples in The Frugal Book Promoter.

Hope that helps, Diana
CHJ

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Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and two how to books for writers, The Frugal Book Promoter: How To Do What Your Publisher Won't and The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success. Her FRUGAL book for retailers is A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. She is also the author of the Amazon Short, "The Great First Impression Book Proposal". Some of her other blogs are TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor blog.

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