Multiple Submissions Etiquette

Q: Is it proper to send out the same article to multiple publishers at the same time? What happens if several magazines accept the article?—Casey Magan

A: Hmm, did you send this same question to other magazines, too?

Sending out the same query to separate publications (simultaneous submissions) gives you more opportunities to get published, but it can also ruin your chances with editors if they know it’s been submitted elsewhere—especially to a competitor­—unless they accept simultaneous submissions.

With multiple acceptance, it’s easy to burn bridges. As you sign a contract, you’ll find most publishers want first serial rights, or the right to publish the article for the first time in any periodical. If an editor puts in the time to read and accept your submission, she won’t be happy to find out that you’ve sold it to another publication.

If you want to submit the same idea to multiple sources, the best approach is to mention it in your cover letter so the editor knows up front. If it’s too late for that, the ethical thing to do is accept the first offer you receive and politely decline the others.

To avoid these dilemmas in the first place, refine the query/article specifically to fit the needs of each individual magazine. The theme of each magazine is different. The audience is different. By angling the same idea a little differently for each publication, you’re less likely to run into such problems.

Brian A. Klems is the online managing editor of Writer’s Digest magazine.

Have a question for me? Feel free to post it in the comments section below or e-mail me at with “Q&Q” in the subject line. Come back each Tuesday as I try to give you more insight into the writing life.

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0 thoughts on “Multiple Submissions Etiquette

  1. april

    I am new to professional writing and have run into a quandary. I would like to submit articles to various publishers on the same subject but from different angles. Is this or is this not considered multiple submissions? Is it considered bad form?

    My article is about a historic site with a religious background. I would like to submit info to religious magazines on the religious side of the site. I would like to submit to historical magazines about the history of the site. Then maybe submit to travel or art magazines but from their view.

    Thanks for your time.