You Ask, I Answer: Can I Send Similar Ideas to Different Magazines?
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James asks: There’s a topic that is very timely that I’d like to write about and that has potential for a number of angles to suit the individual focuses of different publications. Is it OK for me to send out simultaneous queries to Publications A, B, and C on this topic, each query reflecting a different angle on the topic? If I do, and if more than one query is accepted, do I have any obligation to tell the editors that I’m writing a related article for one or more other publications? Or should I submit my query to the publication I’d most like to write for (Publication A) and wait to hear back before submitting to Publication B, then wait again to hear before submitting to Publication C?
You shouldn’t pitch similar ideas to competing publications with the intention of writing up a similar topic for each of them, even with different angles. For example, I wouldn’t pitch Redbook on a cool non-profit and then offer a profile of the founder to Ladies’ Home Journal. However, 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.
I would also pitch different slants to non-competing magazines: For example, a profile of the founder of a non-profit that helps kids with MS to a women’s magazine and then a profile of the non-profit itself — or a round-up of several such non-profits — to a magazine targeted to people with MS and their family members (yes, those publications are out there!). You can hedge your bets by making sure that the magazines differ on several points; for example, one might be a consumer pub for women and the other might be a trade for non-profits, or one could be for Atlanta-based parents and the other for a general California audience.
If you sell different slants to non-competing markets, there’s no need to let the editors know unless you get a gut feeling that you should do so. I’m big on going with your gut!
I should mention that if I have a relationship with a magazine and I plan to pitch them as well as other, competing mags, I give the editor I have a relationship with first chance to buy the idea before I send it en masse to the rest of the editors.
I hope that helps!
If you liked that post, you might also like:
- You Ask, I Answer: What If I Don’t Have Relevant Clips?
- Why I Haven’t Written a Query SInce 2010–And 5 Ways You Can Stop Querying But Still Make a Living as a Freelance Writer
- You Ask, We Answer: Should I Charge to Write a Query?
- Are Queries Dead?
- You Ask, We Answer: Is It OK to Send the Same Query to Two Mags at Same Publisher?