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Simultaneous Query – Worst Fear Comes True – Ask Anne The Pro Writer

questions-about-writingHi Anne,

I have a query (the other type) and I may as well ask it here.

Yesterday was the first time I have ever approached an editor.

I didn’t write a query letter; I just wrote an email. I had written an article and wanted to get it published. I searched magazine websites for appropriate names and addresses and found two. I emailed both editors, who both responded, and both requested to read my piece – which I duly sent. They both want to buy it!


The question is:

Is trying to pitch to two editors at the same, with the same piece, acceptable?

I’ve tried to find this answer myself and I have about 50/50 split between yes/no.

Can someone help me with this?

Thanks & regards,

Bruce

Hi Bruce,

First of all, congratulations!

Yes, you’ve got a problem, although it’s one many of us would like to have. You’ve done what’s known as a simultaneous submission.  If you read market listings you’ll find many say something like “no simultaneous submissions.”

You’ll also find many, including me, who ignore that direction because the editors in question are essentially asking for an option on our work without paying. It’s always a bit of a gamble.

Now, what should you do? First, think through the markets for both publications. If, as is most likely, they have a large overlap,  I’d take a deep breath and tell the editor of the publication that either paid the least or had the least prestige that I was a newbie and had, not knowing I shouldn’t, queried two editors and both wanted it. I’d be crystal clear I was withdrawing the piece and I’d be profusely but briefly apologetic. You can get away with this because it is your first time.

If by some chance the markets are quite different you’ve got a couple of options. One is to quickly rewrite one so it’s quite different and sell both pieces. Or you can tell one editor of your gaff and offer to rewrite it. Or just tell one editor about your mistake and ask what they want you to do.


If I got caught in that I’d have to take a different tack because I’m far from new at this. If I couldn’t reshape one or the other pieces quickly,  I’d probably say something like  “I got caught.” Then I’d explain my feelings quickly, withdraw the piece, apologize and move on.

You may also want to read What About Simultaneous Submissions?

I’m sure you’re not the only one who has had this happened. If you’ve faced this tell us what you did.

Got a question about freelance writing? Email me with Q&A in the subject line and I’ll probably answer it here.

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