To Submit Multiple or Not To Submit Multiple
A guy I know is looking to get into the writing game. He had a short creative non-fiction piece that he let me read, and it was REALLY good, so I told him to submit it. He came back with a good question so I figured I’d put it here:
Do they care if it has been published before? In other words if I sent it to ten and two were interested, can I go with both or do you choose?
When submitting to any publication, always check whether they allow simultaneous submissions or not. That goes the same for reprints as well. Most will indicate specifically that they do or don’t accept simultaneous submissions and/or reprints right on their website. If they don’t clarify, assume that they do (although this is a little risky). There may be some editors who would council against this, but I have my reasons for encouraging it. I call it the EQUALITY OF TRADE. I can’t tell you how often I hear from agents and publishers that “you writers” need to treat your writing like a business. The truth is, we DO… and time is money. So, when an editor says don’t waste his time with a submission that went someplace else, I say, don’t waste MY time forcing me to wait two months to hear ONE rejection. There’s one more thing. Even if they say they don’t accept multiple submissions, you have the option of gambling. This is your business we’re talking about. It’s called risk analysis, and every good business owner does it every day. Weigh the risk of pissing off one editor on the outside chance that you get accepted elsewhere and have to tell him against increasing your chances of getting those owe-so-important writing credits. Statistically, the risk is low. However, I’ve heard that there are some editors who will then blacklist you. You decide, but keep in mind that you always have your reputation to maintain in one form or another.
As writers, we’re in the business of writing the moment we send something to a publication for consideration. Period. We owe then the courtesy and respect of following their guidelines and being patient to hear their response. However, THEY owe US the courtesy and respect to know that:
- They’re not the only game in town
- Statistically the odds are they won’t accept the story
- None of us are getting any younger as we try to build up writing credits
Ask yourself this question: when an artist paints a picture to sell, does he or she only go to one potential buyer at a time? NO! There’s a gallery showing and as many people as as can physically fit in the building.
So what happens if you get accepted and you sent out 20? That’s an easy one. Simply notify all the others that your story was accepted elsewhere and thank them for their time. If you get accepted by more than one publication at the same time , pick the one with the greatest exposure or highest payment (or, god forbid, both). The odds are this won’t happen, because we (editors) all get to stories and reading periods at different times. However, it is possible you’d get two hits at the same time, so just be overly communicative and do so with alacrity.
If you’re submitting short stories or non-fiction, I ENCOURAGE you to blast it out to as many places as will reasonably accept it (make sure they take that kind of writing). Just be professional in your communication and keep everyone in the loop as your stories start to get picked up.
Best of luck!