By Tom Watson
Most editors I work with generally do not accept previously-published submissions – and understandably so. However, there is nary an assignment or photo trip where I am not thinking of how to turn one outing’s material into many submissions.
Instead of being concerned about sending the same story, I gather enough background information, quotes and photos to generate several stories for each targeted publication.
A sidebar topic for one magazine becomes the subject of a separate article in a competing publication. Loyalty to an editor will assure he or she gets the first and foremost story as well as suggestions for other pieces that might stem from the primary article. However, if the editor passes on any follow-up story, I can develop the idea for a new publication.
Reworking a piece not only adds freshness to an exiting article but assures the editor the same piece won’t appear in another publication. My camping column articles are often rewritten with a kayak or canoeing focus for my paddling column and vice versa. Both come from the same experience, field trip or research venture but are written specifically for different audiences.
Along with the reworking of copy for each article, I go back and see what photos will work best. I rarely submit the same photo with similar articles. If I have one so strikingly suited, I will let the editor know this – and still offer alternatives. Many of those other choices are merely second and third composition shots of the first subject. Sometimes they are cropped segments of one master photo (shot specifically with cropping in mind). Most often, however, they are separate photos captured sequentially for the purpose of being used in similar articles.
On rare occasions, I come across a publication well suited for an article I wrote several years earlier. I will mention in my query that it is a rejuvenated piece, the original publication and year, but offer new photos to support the piece.
Even though multiple submissions are often frowned upon or not accepted at all, using a strategy that works to expand and enhance an initial piece is an effective way to increase the frequency of being published in a competitive market.
Tom Watson is a freelance writer, columnist, book author and active member of OWAA and the Association of Great Lake Outdoor Writers. He writes from Appleton, Minn. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.