Thursday, March 5, 2009

Multiple Subs vs. Simultaneous Subs

What's the difference?

This was one of my first newbie questions, and for a while - even after I knew the answer - I was still confused. Call me slow, but the concept didn't really sink in until I started submitting manuscripts in earnest. So, in case you are also confused, here's the low-down:

Multiple submissions:
This means that you are submitting more than one story (poem, novel, whatever) to the same market at the same time. Or that you are submitting a work to a magazine (publishing company, agent) when you already have one waiting in their slush pile. So let's say, for example, that you've mailed your short story, The Flight of the Walrus, to the magazine The Walrus Review. If you turn around the next day and mail a second story to this same market, then you are submitting multiple stories.

Generally, most markets frown on multiple submissions (although poetry is sometimes an exception). Read the submission guidelines carefully before sending in your work. Some markets even have a policy that states an author should wait a certain length of time between submissions.

Simultaneous submissions:
This takes place when you send a single story (novel, poem, whatever) to more than one market. So, using the previous example, you send your short story, The Flight of the Walrus, not just to The Walrus Review but also to Walrus Weekly and Walrus World.

Most of the time it is okay to send your work out to more than one market. It certainly can save time! But it is considered proper etiquette to let the markets know that you are doing this. You needn't tell them precisely where you are sending your work, but at least mention it in your query letter (something along the lines of, "I'm considering other markets" or "I have submitted this piece to other magazines as well as yours").

A caveat, however...
If you are submitting to a short story market, it is usually best to simply submit to one magazine (e-zine, anthology) at a time. Yes, it does mean you will have to wait longer for a reply, but most of these markets won't waste their time with simultaneous subs (especially when a new author is involved). The website Writing World has an excellent discussion on this, if you're interested.

The best time to use simultaneous submissions is when submitting a novel to an agent. But, again, it is very important to let the agent know that you are doing this.


Rebecca Nazar said...

Thanks for the Writing World link. I'm always looking for helpful resources.

Kiley said...

Hm, I look forward to reading what you have to say on this topic. I'm getting ready to start prepping one of my stories for the process.

Thanks for following my blog, too!

Elle Scott said...

Hey, congrats on sending out a story! It's exciting. Good luck : )

The Tenacious Writer said...

Your distinction between multiple/simultaneous submissions is clear and well-stated.

Journals and magazines will note in their submission guidelines whether or not they accept simultaneous submissions. Some ask that you state in your cover letter whether you have sent your work for consideration elsewhere. I suspect, however, that some journals use this to weed out submissions.

The most important thing is to notify any journals where you have submitted work if that work has been accepted somewhere else.

Elle Scott said...

Definitely. Thanks for mentioning that!

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