Monday, June 09, 2008

Simultaneous submissions. Go for it. There's nothing to lose and lots to gain.

My absence was too long. Don't worry I have excuses. I'm busy. And I'm having computer issues. I think. I'm not really sure what's going on with me anymore.

Now onto a subject I've been meaning to write about for a while. Submissions. A few weeks ago someone came to this blog searching for advice on whether or not to obey the rule when certain publishers say "no simultaneous submissions". And it was just a few days ago that I got a submission back in the mail that got me really motivated to finally write about it.
Just to clear things up for anyone who has no clue as to what I'm talking about, with magazines, agents and book publishers, some will look at work only if it's been sent to them exclusively, others don't care.
Obviously, most writers prefer places that accept simultaneous submissions. Rejection rates are high and it takes most publishers/agents a while to respond. On average a few months but sometimes up to a year. So if a piece of work is not sent out to more than one potential at a time, it could take years before it finds the right place to be published.
Part of me thinks that it seems unreal that publishers would actually expect a writer to not send submissions simultaneously. Of course, I can understand their point-of-view. They spend LOTS of time going through LOTS of submissions. So no simultaneous submissions would cut down on that pile. Also, how frustrating would it be to spend so much time reading subs, finally find that perfect story, then find out it had been sold to another publisher while it had been lost in the pile. I can see how that would be annoying.
Some publishers get around this problem by requesting that a writer tell them in a query letter if the work has been sent to more than one publisher and to let them know if the piece they submitted is accepted elsewhere. Fair enough, I think.
So the question comes down to, does a writer listen to the publishers who say "no simultaneous submissions"? Honestly, how would they ever know that you had sent it elsewhere? Besides, in a subjective world full of rejection, what are the odds that two publishers would both accept the same story? And what could they do to a writer if they did send a simultaneous one to a publisher that didn't accept them?

My thoughts on the whole thing is that I have been respectful and always mentioned in my cover letters that my submissions are sent out simultaneously. And I don't send them to magazines that request not to get simultaneous subs. However, I do get frustrated with publishers that don't list their policy either way, then when you send them a submission that you labeled simultaneous, they send it back without a glance because they don't accept simultaneous submissions.
Postage, supplies and time wasted for the writer for being honest and the company would have looked at it if the writer had just failed to mention it had been sent elsewhere.
So my new policy has become that I will send simultaneous subs to anyone that accepts them. If they don't accept them, I guess I'll continue to respect that. But if they don't say one way or the other, I'm sending them anyway, but not telling them so because life is too short to wait for your dreams to come true.

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