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A Necessary Evil?

Multiple submissions are the subject of ongoing debate among many members of the scrapbook industry, and their acceptability even varies from publication to publication. Is it alright to submit the same piece of work to multiple places for consideration at once? Obviously for some things like major contests, the rules are specific that it is not acceptable to submit work elsewhere that is being entered in the contest. But what about the rest of the time? Can you send the same layout to more than one publishing outlet at a time?

I believe for several reasons that multiple submissions should be acceptable and are probably a necessary evil for both the artists and publications in the industry for the foreseeable future. This is due to editorial schedules and changing needs and styles of magazines, as well as the practicality of notifying artists when their work has been rejected.

That last reason that I listed is actually the biggest reason. As it currently stands most publications do not notify artists when their submission has been rejected, instead keeping them on file for possible future use. While this can sometimes lead to a call in the distant future for a previously submitted piece, it leaves the submitter in limbo as to whether or not their page has been rejected. Even if they are aware through professional contacts that page requests have been made for the call for which it was submitted, artists can’t be sure their work isn’t still being considered for another use. And the vast volume of submissions they are receiving makes it impractical for publications to send rejection notices, as well as the fact that this would effectively result in greatly limiting the number of layouts they have on file for future use to fill editorial gaps. So with no such thing as a rejection notice in this industry, artists would have to either commit to offering each piece of work to only ONE publication or everyone has to work with the idea of multiple submissions.

There are other reasons for accepting the reality of multiple submissions as a system that works for both artists and publications. The first is seasonality. Much of scrapbook work is seasonal. If you don’t submit that Christmas page to multiple places when all the Christmas calls are out, by the time you know for sure one place has rejected it, more than likely all the other publications have finished selecting their Christmas work. Another problem is the evolving style of the industry. Just when you think you have figured out which magazine your work fits the best, changing styles may put you over in someone else’s territory. And since this all takes place months before anything actually goes to press, there is no way of knowing this is happening until after an issue is published – too late to adjust your submissions! Allowing for multiple submissions gives artists the best chance of getting their work picked up without having make what is often little better than an educated guess at which publication’s direction it will match, and recieving a broad range of submissions allows publications to have plenty of design style options from which to choose for their editorial needs.

But if multiple submissions are going to continue to be a fact of life in scrapbook publication, there has to be respect for the system. Scrapbookers shouldn’t abuse the allowance by “blanket submitting” work everywhere in the blind hope that someone will pick it up. Submissions should be targeted to match calls or a publication’s presumed editorial style and needs. Work should be provided to the first request received for it, even if that is not the artist’s first choice of publication. Rules of contests and other calls that specifically disallow multiple submissions should be respected. If these guidelines are observed, it will discourage publications from drawing a line and deciding to completely disallow multiple submissions. And while there are some advantages to it for them, it is us artists who have the most to lose if the publications decide to change the system.

Multiple submissions are a fact of life, a necessary evil in the industry the way it is today. Let’s all play by a few rules so it can stay that way.

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