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publishers that don't accept simultaneous submission - why not? : Writers' Block Party • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com

publishers that don't accept simultaneous submission - why not?

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shevas
 

publishers that don't accept simultaneous submission - why not?

Postby shevas » Sat Feb 11, 2006 12:32 am


shevas
 

publishers that don't accept simultaneous submission - why not?

Postby shevas » Sat Feb 11, 2006 12:32 am

I'm not sure I understand the reasoning behind publishers who don't accept simultaneous submission.

If, by their own statistics, their acceptance rate is less than 1%, how can they expect a writer to wait around for up to several months, just to get a rejection, before I can send it to another publisher?

My thoughts are that if on the billion to one chance it was accepted, I would simply send a note to withdraw the manuscript from other publishers.

I understand part of the reason, or maybe the whole reason, is because they don't want to waste their time reading something that they can't publish, but again, back to the less than 1% acceptance.

Any thoughts on this?

Curious
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RE: publishers that don't accept simultaneous submission - why not?

Postby Curious » Sat Feb 11, 2006 2:18 am

I certainly don't know everything about this, or even half, but I'll take a stab at it. All that I know, of course, applies to book-length projects. Publishers never want to wind up involved in some sort of bidding war over a manuscript, so the rules of negotiation are generally set up to avoid it. Ordinarily, manuscripts are offered to one publisher at a time. Business with another publisher has to wait until those negotiations fall though (which often are allowed a set amount of time, such as thirty days).

The exception to this is the auction. If an agent thinks he or she has a hot manuscript, that agent will bring it to auction. The manuscript is circulated to certain publishers, and they are invited to enter bids. There's nothing secret about it: every participant understands that an action is taking place. I don't know that much about auctions because I haven't wanted my agent to go that route.

In other words, it's all set up to leave the publishers a very clear idea of who has the right to work on the manuscript. If this weren't true, you might string along one publisher, getting lots of help and improving your manuscript, and meanwhile sending the results of this good work on to other interested publishing houses. That would leave a nasty mess which might require lawsuits to untangle.

And the bottom line is this: it may inconvenience you terribly to have to wait, but with far more manuscripts than slots for publication, the publishers don't have to make the rules for your benefit. It's the old law of supply and demand.

Clare

shevas
 

RE: publishers that don't accept simultaneous submission - why not?

Postby shevas » Sat Feb 11, 2006 3:20 am

Thanks Clare, that's very interesting.
I can understand their concerns, but only after they have decided to consider a manuscript, not before. I'd think they would have some sort of legal agreement with an author, that at that point forward when they are considering publishing, that they are the only publisher involved with the manuscript. But up until that point, I still don't see any clear reasoning behind this.

For example, suppose I wait for a publishers rejection before sending it off to another publisher. The fact remains that other publishers have already seen it. What difference does it make whether they have seen it at the same time or not?

I just can't get my head around this!!


Oh, and there are publishers who will accept simultaneous submissions which leads me to think that its not just all about legal issues.

Curious
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RE: publishers that don't accept simultaneous submission - why not?

Postby Curious » Sat Feb 11, 2006 3:30 am

Sometimes--especially if it's your first manuscript--you may work with an editor through one or two revisions before that editor takes the manuscript to the publisher and holds an acquisitions meeting. That can means months of working with someone before you have a firm contract. If there were no rule against simultaneous submissions, you could continue to shop the manuscript throughout this process as you're improving it, but that would hardly be fair to the editor who is working with you.

Of course, if at some point you decide to take the manuscript elsewhere (perhaps even before the editor has decided it's good enough to try to acquire), then you can still walk away, free and clear. But generally, you're either working with someone or you're not, and if you decide to try other houses, you will stop work with one and tell him or her so before you try to start up with another.

This reflects what I know of book projects. The magazine world is something else again, I'm sure.

Clare

a jesterWOLF
 

RE: publishers that don't accept simultaneous submission - why not?

Postby a jesterWOLF » Sat Feb 11, 2006 6:01 am

hmmm i could understand this... i mean it would suck waiting that long but i'd be all pissed if i was a publisher and really liked it/ just finished readign it, and find out the person sent it to other people too... i guess it just creates a waste of time. But i'm glad this thread came up, i was actually wondering a few weeks ago if you could send something like that to a bunch of different publishers at the same time... guess not ;)

Jamesaritchie
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RE: publishers that don't accept simultaneous submission - why not?

Postby Jamesaritchie » Sat Feb 11, 2006 7:47 am


Curious
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RE: publishers that don't accept simultaneous submission - why not?

Postby Curious » Sat Feb 11, 2006 7:56 am

An excellent explanation, James!

You're right about those slush parties making writers depressed. When I worked with an editor whose house accepted unagented manuscripts, she'd email me every now and then on bad days: "I have a cold, my head is pounding, I'm feeling cranky, and I can't think straight. I'm gonna go read slush."

Clare

shevas
 

RE: publishers that don't accept simultaneous submission - why not?

Postby shevas » Sat Feb 11, 2006 11:48 am

James, this comment from you really nailed it on the head for me.

"If it's good, there's nearly a 100% chance that it will be accepted, at least by one publisher or another. And a manuscript that's good enough to be bought by one publisher is probably good enough to be bought by several."

I realized that I'm only thinking in terms of rejection, not acceptance. So much for self-confidence!


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