Here's the dilemma I received from a reader:
I'm hoping you can advise me on the best way to correct a huge mistake I made, if possible – or at least to minimize the damage. I entered the same painting in two separate exhibitions. What I was thinking was the exhibition dates are separated by a few months, so no problem if the same painting was accepted into both. Well, it was accepted into both. Then it dawned on me that if it sold at the first, it would not be available for the second. Okay, I'm an idiot. Is there anything I can do other than learn my lesson and pray it doesn't sell? I understand I can't renege, but am I being dishonest by not mentioning the dilemma to the galleries or the organizations sponsoring the exhibitions?
Dear reader, first, you are not an idiot. We all make mistakes and this is human error. I hope your painting does sell in the first exhibit! But, you're right. You do have a problem in that case.
I have learned that it's always best to be up front and to say "I have made a mistake." So, if it were I, I would contact the second gallery immediately. Tell the gallery you just had an epiphany and want to do everything you can to correct the error before it blows up. Then ask the gallery "How would you like for me to handle this?" That shows that you are (1) asking for the gallery's professional opinion and (2) owning up to your responsibility to take care of it.
If you wait and pray it doesn't sell, you'll be a nervous wreck for two months and that won't help anyone. You need that energy to go into making new work.