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Pitch essay based on blog post?
Posted - 5/6/2013 4:54:20 PM | show profile | flag this post
I want to pitch an essay to a national mag based on a post on my personal blog. I changed some components so it's not verbatim, but most of it is pretty similar. I'm new to freelance writing, so I didn't know if this was frowned upon? My blog is not widely read. If it's okay to pitch, do I need to mention in my pitch that portions of this first appeared on my blog, or do I not reference it at all? Thanks!
Posted - 5/9/2013 4:12:07 AM | show profile | flag this post
You won't get a right or wrong answer on this one. Generally, most magazines would shy away from buying an essay that's been published on the web, and they'd want to know.
Personally, I am pragmatic. If the only a very few people saw it on the Internet, I would take it down and sent it out without telling the editors.
My feeling is telling them might hurt the chance of a sale. The chance of anyone ever finding out is very very small. On the rare chance that did happen after it was published, and they asked about it, I'd say, "I put an early version of it online and a few people read it, but I just regarded that a critique group before I sent it out. Is there a problem with that?"
I appreciate some people might disagree with that approach, but that's what I would do.
Posted - 5/16/2013 10:37:53 PM | show profile | flag this post
Ditto on that. The NYT Modern Love feature considers stuff from a blog to be already published and hence won't consider it, but if your blog is only read by a limited number of people, I'd just take the post down while the essay is being considered.
Posted - 5/29/2013 5:45:56 PM | show profile | flag this post
When you say "pitch an essay," do you mean you're going to submit a version of the blog post as an essay already written? Because that (submitting it on spec) is the only way I've ever sold essays. In that case I would not submit it unless it states in the mag's guidelines, or you happen to know, that they're OK with previously published work.
But if this mag accepts actual pitches for essays, I'd write something like "I wrote a blog post about X [link to it] and that made me want to explore the topic further. I'm thinking of writing an essay in which I could expand on X and also include my experience with Y and Z." And so on. The blog post is essentially how you got the idea for the essay, and it also displays your capacity to write about it. But make it clear to them that you won't simply be repeating what you've already written - you're selling them something more.