David vs. Goliath(s)

Once upon a time (like in the ’90’s), my Op-Ed pieces, letters to the editor, etc. were regularly published by The Star Tribune, City Business, and even The New York Times.

I stopped counting, but not before the tally reached several dozen pieces.

In the intervening 20 years or, I don’t think that I’ve become a worse writer, or have less to say.  😉

Meanwhile, I don’t exactly think the so-called Main Stream Media (“MSM”) have improved over that interval (sorry, Mr. Murdoch).

So, why the drought?

You Read it Here First — Guaranteed

One factor undoubtedly is that I don’t have a publicist, and am hardly a public figure.

But neither of those things was true of me twenty years ago, either.

And no doubt competition for the truly high-profile Op-Ed pages (NYT, Wall Street Journal, etc.) is intense.

But, lots of people submitted their work then, too — and fewer people read those papers (paper-lesses?) today than 20 years ago.

So, what does that leave?

My hunch is that my, oh . . .  zero-for-157 success rate submitting pieces the last few years has a little something to do with this blog.

Not Playing By the Rules — Their Rules

Specifically, I insist on publishing my own work here first — which runs afoul of the MSM’s “exclusivity” requirement.

Here is The New York Times’ policy on submissions:

We accept opinion articles on any topic. The suggested length is 750 words, but submissions of any length will be considered. We ask that all submissions be sent exclusively to The Times. We will not consider articles that have already been published in print or online.  (my emphasis)

We read all submissions promptly and will contact you within three business days if we are going to publish your article. If you have not heard from us within three business days, please assume that we will not be able to publish your article.

The New York Times

Here is my submission policy:

Ideas for truly original, topical opinion pieces are both scarce and perishable (time-sensitive).

Every day that I “self-embargo” my material while waiting for you to review it is lost, valuable time.

It also increases the risk that someone will scoop me with my own idea(s).   

Having had previous submissions paraphrased or excerpted — without permission or attribution — I reserve the right to publish my own work on “City Lakes Real Estate,” at any time.

On a good day, my blog attracts perhaps several hundred hits — an infinitesimal fraction of your Internet traffic.

If exposure on a tiny blog poses a threat to your business model and/or violates your “exclusivity” requirement . . .  so be it.  

–Ross Kaplan

Great — and Mediocre — Minds Think Alike?

Is this an instance of “cutting off my nose despite my [Op-Ed] face?”

Aren’t there benign explanations for similar ideas appearing in other people’s work (“great minds think alike,” or something to that effect?).

“Perhaps,” and “absolutely” — at least some of the time.

But there’s nothing more infuriating than waiting to hear back on a terrific submission — then seeing your idea(s) serve as the “inspiration” for someone else’s published work elsewhere.

And knowing you can’t prove it.

Journalistic “David’s” know never to pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel.

Ditto for taking on folks who publish online by the megabyte.

P.S.:  And yes, as a former auditor, I actually do know ways I could definitively prove that somebody ripped off (borrowed?) my ideas; for one, I could mail myself my own submission and keep the unopened, postmarked envelope.

But then someone will just say I faked the evidence.

And no, I don’t think this post will increase the odds of my getting published by any of the “biggies.”

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

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