Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Come again?

Sarah Radev emailed me to share a few positive moments of joy, which then leads onto a question.

I was pleasantly surprised this week when I received an unexpected cheque through the post for a letter I wrote to Spirit and Destiny as part of Assignment 4. I have also received an email from Best of British to say they would like to retain an article I submitted about a local Folk Festival. I had submitted another article to them and they wrote to tell me that they were not going to publish it because it was too similar to something they had done in the past. However, they told me that they did really like the article which they thought was very well written and advised me that they would be glad to receive any more articles I wished to submit.

I would actually like to ask your advice on submitting more than one article to a magazine. I have quite a number of ideas for articles, but they are usually all suited to the same few magazines. Is it okay to submit another article to a magazine that has an article of mine on file, such as Best of British now do? Also, is it alright to submit more articles to magazines that are still considering articles? The Lady has had an article of mine that has been being considered since last July, and which after liaising with the editors assistant I have now resubmitted, but I have lots of other ideas for articles that would be suitable for this magazine. Should I wait until the first article is accepted, or published? Or is it okay to keep submitting articles?

Well, congratulations on the success with the letter and the good news from Best of British. And can I also say well done for the piece with The Lady. You'd be surprised the number of students who submit work, get asked a question by the editor to rejig the piece and for some reason are struck dumb into doing nothing at all, which is ridiculous. If you do what the editor asks the chances of acceptance and publication are even higher then!

But I can see what you mean about sending more work to magazines who are still holding onto previous submissions. To answer your question, I would say ‘yes’. If you find magazines that you enjoy writing for, then keep sending them material. You obviously enjoy writing in that magazine’s style, and this enjoyment will show through in your writing. There is nothing wrong in submitting articles to magazines who are currently considering other submissions from yourself. I have never come across a ‘one-at-a-time’ policy. With regards to Best of British in particular, because you have had one piece ‘retained’, the editor now knows your name, and it’s always a good idea to submit another article to an editor who has recently accepted your work. Strike whilst the iron is hot, as they say.

The reason I say that it is okay to do this is because the editor is always considering the actual material they have in front of them. I always say that people are frightened of rejection because they think editors are rejecting THEM. They are not, They are merely rejecting THAT particular piece of work at THAT particular piece of time. This is why it’s okay to send more submissions if the magazine already has some of your work under consideration. They are not considering you as a writer, but the actual piece of work in front of them. So if you’re getting the ideas – then go for it! Write them up and send them in!

The only time I would suggest that you hold off from submitting more work, is if it is a new magazine you are approaching and you don't know whether they accept work from freelancers or not. It would be a waste of time to write three or four pieces of a period of months, only to have the first piece come back rejected because they don't accept freelance submissions.

There is a general principle of life that many things adhere to the 80/20 rule. This basically means that 80% of your work will go to 20% of your customers. In other words, you'll end up sending most of your work to many of the same small group of clients. It's good to do this, because an editor will get to know you as a reliable contributor. But you must also continue to develop the other 20% of your work that you submit to the other 80% of your clients. Because one day, one of the clients in your 20% bracket may change their policy and you'll find that for whatever reason the work with them dries up, forcing you to look elsewhere for a client to fill that gap. This is where one of those other clients from the other 80% comes in.

So yes, submit work to editors who are currently considering other pieces of your work.

Good luck.

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