Monday, April 23, 2012

Simultaneous Submissions Dilemma, Take 2

The nationals make it clear that they won’t take simultaneous submissions. But there’s a grey area when it comes to regional parenting magazines. While they’ll take simultaneous submissions, they also require “regional exclusivity” – which means they don’t care if you sell the same article to dozens of other publications - as long as nobody else in their area of circulation publishes it. So the question is, should you simultaneously submit your piece to publications in the same region?

Here’s what happened to a writing friend of mine:  she submitted her article to dozens of parenting magazines that took simultaneous submissions, and it was accepted by magazine #1 (who hoo!). The editor of that magazine asked that she not sell the article to any other publications in the same region – a standard request that ensures readers won’t see the same article in two different local papers. She agreed, and didn’t sell it to anyone else in the area. Or so she thought.

As they sometimes do, an editor at magazine #2 published her story without giving her a formal acceptance or any heads up. And it just so happened that magazine #1 and magazine #2 were in the same region. Needless to say, editor #1 was very upset, and ended up blacklisting the writer from future submissions – despite her attempts to explain what happened.

But should the writer have been on the hook?

This story and others like it had convinced me and others to avoid the problem - and the question - by only sending simultaneous submissions to magazines in different regions. However, doing so also means reducing the markets for any one article by about 1/3.

And so it makes sense to find a way around the dilemma, without jeapardizing relationships with editors. Some ideas:
  • I recently sent an article to ALL of the parenting markets I have, and added a safeguard to the cover letter, specifically asking editors to “please let me know if you would like to purchase this article so that I can ensure regional exclusivity.” 
  • I've also read advice suggesting that if you simultaneously submit and then get an acceptance, to send an email notifying involved publications that you're withdrawing your submission because it's been accepted elsewhere. However, I've only seen this advice in relation to poetry/creative writing publications.

What do you think? Do you follow the rules when it comes to simultaneous submissions?

Have you found additional ways to ensure regional exclusivity?


Tara said...

I've been tempted, but it just doesn't feel right. Unfortunately I think it's part of the writing life!

Cindy said...


I tried it once. I got a "maybe" from one editor and freaked out that another would want it, too. As it turned out, nobody bought the article. I haven't tried it again since.