What Are Simultaneous Submissions in Writing and Publishing?

Learn what simultaneous submissions in writing and publishing are from editor Robert Lee Brewer, including when writers should make them (if ever) and why they should care.
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Any writer who has read more than a handful of submission guidelines has probably run across the term simultaneous submissions. Some agents and publishers tell writers they do not accept simultaneous submissions while others say it's OK.

(How to Write Successful Queries for Any Genre of Writing.)

But what are they? And why should a writer care? We dive into that and more here.

What Are Simultaneous Submissions in Writing and Publishing?

What Are Simultaneous Submissions?

Simultaneous submissions are submissions that are made simultaneously to more than one agency or publisher. For instance, you may have a query letter for a novel and want to pitch more than one agent at the same time. Once you query multiple agents without receiving a response yet, you're simultaneously submitting.

(What are multiple submissions?)

Many writers do this to save time on receiving a response. After all, if you query 10 agents one at a time, and they all take one month to respond to you, it would take 10 months to hear back from everyone. If you query the same 10 agents simultaneously (and they all take one month to respond), it would take one month to hear back from everyone. Nice, right?

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Should Writers Send Simultaneous Submissions?

The natural answer to this question from the writer's perspective would be "yes" in most cases. But read the guidelines for the agent or publisher before submitting, because some of them specifically state they do not consider simultaneous submissions. 

(20 literary agents actively seeking writers and their writing.)

They may have been burned by the practice in the past, or they may just want to have an exclusive look at the material. Whatever the reason, respect those submission guidelines. If you'd rather simultaneously submit, send those out to the agents and publishers that allow them first. Then, submit to the more selective places next. Or flip it the other way and submit to the exclusive place first before simultaneously submitting.

Agents and editors put great care into crafting their submission guidelines and a sure way to find a rejection or burn a bridge is to ignore or disregard them.

If You Do Simultaneous Submissions...

Even when agents and editors accept simultaneous submissions, there are some good ways for writers to handle the process. Here are a couple tips:

  1. Keep records of your submissions. I usually have a spreadsheet of some sort that lists what I submitted (story, poems, query, etc.), where I submitted it, when I submitted, whether it was accepted or rejected, and a place for other notes.
  2. Contact agents and editors if your submission is accepted elsewhere. There are few things an agent or editor dislikes more than considering a submission, deciding to accept it, and then learn it's already been accepted elsewhere. So let agents and editors know as soon as it's accepted that it's "been accepted elsewhere." 

Simultaneous submissions can save time for writers and lead to better submission results. Just be sure to follow those submission guidelines.

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