Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Simultaneous Submissions: To Do or Not To Do

Most online and print publications clearly state their preference for simultaneous submissions. Some will accept them; no problem. Some will accept them with stipulations. Some will absolutely not have anything to do with them.

By definition, a simultaneous submission is a completed manuscript (and here you can insert whatever specific type you choose: poem, flash fiction, short story, novella, novel, etc.) that the writer sends out to more than one publisher / editor. Every publication has a different response time, so the idea is for the writer to submit copies of their work to multiple publishers, thus increasing the chance for a ‘timely’ acceptance / rejection notification.

Examples of publisher preferences for simultaneous submissions:
Yes— Sundog Lit
Yes (with stipulations)— Boston Literary Magazine

If a writer’s work is accepted by one particular journal / magazine/ online pub/ press, it then becomes her responsibility to contact all the other publications she submitted to and inform them her work is no longer available for consideration.

This is where editors often run into a problem. They might love this writer’s work and want nothing more than to publish it but, unknown to them, it’s been accepted somewhere else… and the writer may have forgotten to communicate this fact. They may have already cleared the page space and closed submissions for their latest issue, and now they’ve lost the opportunity to present this writer’s work.

I guarantee this writer will never be welcome to submit to them again. For reals.

In my own opinion— and as the majority of publications I submit to are unpaid gigs— I see very little benefit in simultaneous submissions. Using myself as an example, I don’t let just any stranger hold my baby (my crafted words). I carefully choose where and to whom my work is sent. I want that publisher to take their time and really give my submission a fair shake before passing judgment. If rejected, I move on to plan B (always have a plan B thru Z) and submit elsewhere. And in reality, what’s the big hurry anyway? Use that anxious waiting time to continue creating new works.

The only time I consider submitting the same work to more than one publisher at a time is when there’s an opportunity to receive payment (if the selected publisher is open to this option). The benefit here is obvious— ker ching, ker ching… $$. BUT, if you’re lacking follow up skills, don’t bother as failing to alert publishers of acceptance elsewhere may burn bridges you may like to one day walk across.

In a nutshell, for me, I just don’t do it.

How do you feel about it?


  1. Funny you should talk about sim subs today...I seem to do sim subs even when I don't mean to. Just today, in a strange turn of events, a venue I thought I had withdrawn a story from back in July wants to publish the story in 2013. So now I have to make sure the story is withdrawn from the other venue I sent it to back in July.

    I try not to send sim subs to those venues that frown upon sim subs, but sometimes it happens anyway. However, I have been known to send stories and poems to more than one venue at a time, when those venues are okay with sim subs. I might not be as patient as I should be, but that's just the way I am.

  2. BTW, if a venue doesn't respond to status queries, I figure it's fair game to send the piece in question elsewhere. I don't believe in letting my works linger in limbo indefinitely.

  3. I don't do it because I do lack follow up skills! I could definitely see myself forgetting to contact a publisher.