Dear Million-Toothed Goddess of the Sea,
I am currently reading "You Are A Writer (so start ACTING like one)" by Jeff Goins. and in Chapter 10 he said something that made me feel compelled to seek your advice. In this chapter, he focuses on building writing experience by submitting writing pieces for publication in magazines.
He said, "Try pitching to several publications or publishers at once, following the appropriate guidelines for each...Now, this doesn't mean to just blast the same idea to every publication. Most publications consider simultaneous submissions to be unethical. But you can create several different articles from a single idea."
That threw me for a loop. First he said submit to multiple publishers at once (following guidelines). Then he said to don't blast the same idea, but to create several different articles from a single idea or else it'll likely be unethical. Let it be known that I have zero experience with magazines. From the book industry, we submit to multiple agents at a time for the same piece.
Obviously, Jeff's experience is more broad, but he's said some more things about magazine publishing that just aren't done in the traditional book publishing process, which equates me to the usefulness of a potato. Can you clarify the basic magazine submission process? I really don't even see magazines calling for submissions anymore [those were the days, eh Stephen King?]. Thank you, because I hate being a potato. Unless there's bacon. Always say yes to bacon!
Querying for articles in a magazine is very different from querying for books. For starters, you're going to be querying NON-FICTION articles almost exclusively. If you're submitting short stories, you follow the submission guidelines and often they DO take simultaneous subs.
For non-fiction articles the idea is to have some sort of topic that you know a lot about and come up with different stories for it.
For example, I know a lot about query letters. I might pitch The SharkBait Writer's Guide to commission an article on "Effective Queries for Fish." I'll use the same knowledge base to query the Carkoon Prison Times for an article on "How To Query From Prison." I can pitch those outlets at the same time.
Two separate story ideas, but essentially the same topic.
What I can NOT do is pitch "How To Query The Big Fish Agents" to two or more different magazines at the same time UNLESS their submission guidelines say it's ok.
See the difference?
There are a lot of places now to publish articles that don't require querying first at all. The danger there is if your writing isn't up to par, you can damage your career pretty easily.