General Question

JonnyCeltics's avatar

Can I write about one subject at more than one outlet?

Asked by JonnyCeltics (2716points) May 29th, 2013

I am a freelance writer. I’ve had some success, but I’m relatively green in some of the pitching/placement processes:

I recently sent out an article pitch and received mostly positive feedback, ultimately landing a few potential placements. In fact, three were interested. In my original pitch I outlined three potential story lines, so there’s lots of space for different angles, particularly in the interviews I could include and other historical takes. In other words, I could write without repeating.

Of the three that are interested, one stands out the most and I’m committed to it—it’s international and in print and will most likely pay the best. The other two are reputable as well (and online) and I’d like to build relationships there. As a freelance writer I know this is ground for both opportunity and careful walking. My question is – what do you suggest? Should I reach out to the other two and let them know of my commitment(s)? How could I state this without scaring them away…?

As a freelance writer, I know one needs to squeeze out all the miles one can get on a gas tank…and I want to learn how to do it well, professionally. Please help.

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5 Answers

elbanditoroso's avatar

I have done some writing, but never as a free-lancer, so I may not be of much help.

But it seems wrong to me to shop the same general subject to multiple places at once. My thinking is that if the first place catches on with you, they may want additional stuff on the same subject, and you will have foreclosed that possibility by offering to/selling to the others.

But in the best case, let’s say you sell to all three. The problem there is that you have boxed yourself in on subject matter. You’re now the expert on “XYZ” to the point that you have three articles to your credit. You may have narrowed your future sellability by having so narrowly defined your area of expertise.

So for those two reasons, I would submit on different subject areas to the other two.

JonnyCeltics's avatar

Thanks for the response, @elbanditoroso

I received a response from another, more experienced writer, who said the same thing: pitch to only one place at a time. As I mentioned, I’m a bit new to this so it’s half that, and half the fact that I don’t have the contact with editors yet who I know will respond. But I’m getting there.

Per your last piece of advice, I also received advice from a writer (a separate one at that) who said that it’s good these days to specialize…

downtide's avatar

Most publishers will only pay for “first rights” which means they will not pay for an article that is already published elsewhere, and they frown on writers who send out the same manuscript to more than one publisher at a time. Because, what if it gets accepted by more than one? One of them will have to be pulled, and that gets you a bad reputation. By all means try the others if one is rejected, but once you have an offer of publication, that’s it.

However if you want to broaden your readership, then (depending on the terms of your contract) you may be able to send an already-published article to other non-paid venues such as blogs etc.

JonnyCeltics's avatar

@downtide – I sent a pitch, not a written article…

filmfann's avatar

Go solely with the bigger (and better paying) publisher.
After the piece has been published, you can offer comment to the others.

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