A Smart Way to Handle Multiple Submissions

After checking out magazines on the Barnes & Noble newsstand yesterday, I moved over to the reference section where books about writing abound. It’s always fun to find out what other writers are writing about writing.

The reference section never disappoints. Last night, I happened upon Telling True Stores, a paperback nonfiction writers’ guide, edited by Mark Kramer and Wendy Call. The book includes dozens of short articles by writers, including original contributions from Nora Ephron, David Halberstam, Tom Wolfe, Gay Talese, Tracy Kidder and others.

Of course, I bought the book. While paging through it today, I found a section on “Building a Career in Magazines and Books,” that included a very helpful piece by Jim Collins called “Making It as a Freelancer.”

The writer includes lots of good practical advice. I especially liked his take on multiple submissions, an area where newcomers are likely to run into trouble, he says, because editors tend to believe writers are thinking only about their magazine.

If you have an idea that will fit more than one (magazine), tailor each query and send proposals sequentially. Each magazine should receive a unique pitch. Send the query to your top-choice publication, noting, ‘I think there might be other magazines interested in this; it’s a timely topic. Could you get back to me within a month?’ If you don’t hear back, move on to the next magazine.”

I must confess I’ve never thought of including wording exactly like that in queries for articles suitable for multiple submissions. I’ll heed his advice, though, and in the future adopt similar wording in my queries. Seems like the smart thing to do.

© 2008 by Laverne Daley

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