Simultaneous submissions, or lack there of, are a part of the writing game, for God knows what reason.
Still, after years of working in publishing, it is an odd thing to me.
What is a simultaneous submission?
For most of you, this is nothing new. A simultaneous submission is when you send the same story, article, blog post, etc. to more than one publication for consideration to be published.
I understand why publications don’t like simultaneous submissions. If I agree to publish your work, then someone else agrees to publish it, and we both one first worldwide rights, there’s an issue. Who gets to actually publish it first?
And is that author’s name ruined at one or both publications?
Recently I was checking out potential markets for two different stories, one a tale of sword and sorcery and the other a straightforward horror story.
Magazine #1 made its expectations clear. No simultaneous submissions and if I’ve not received a response on my submission in a year, I was welcome to follow up.
Magazine #2 was similar. No simultaneous submissions and there is no response on rejections, so if I’ve not heard from them in a year, assume they’ve passed on my story.
Similarly, there is a publication in which I’ve been published. I remember sending them a story in 2017, following up a year later, and never getting a response to the follow up.
Publications are overwhelmed by the number of submissions they receive.
Right before Christmas, author and editor Gabino Iglesias held a call for stories for the Halldark Holidays anthology. He published, I think, in 22 stories, but in one tweet reported he’d received several hundred (I can’t remember if it was 400 or 700) submissions.
So the number of submissions can be overwhelming. Will allowing simultaneous submissions increase the number of stories sent in that much more?
I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know whether standard procedure or not, expecting me to wait a year or more before determining whether or not I can send a story to the second publication on my list is … wrong.
One of my goals in 2021 revolves around making better use of my time, and that includes the time between submission, acceptance, and payment.
I’ve written before about the clutter in a writing life and trying to sort through it. It is not easy. For me there are too many distractions – 3 daughters, a fairly intensive “day job,” games and hobbies, and other things.
In my mind, no simultaneous submissions is a time sink as well. It gets in the way of my success if I have to wait a year or more to know if a story is even accepted for publication, much less if it is actually published.
So my goal in 2021 is to figure out how to deal with this?
Do I set what I think is a reasonable time for acceptance after which I withdraw my submission? Do I just go along with how things are done? Maybe I move quicker toward self-publishing?
Not sure yet.
All I know is simultaneous submissions are not practical for anyone on either side of the publishing coin, so we need to, you know, figure it out.