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Writers! What’s Your Policy on Simultaneous Submissions?

Cover for an issue of Asimov's Science Fiction.

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When magazines or editors say they don’t accept simultaneous submissions, I usually ignore them. Fortunately, most don’t ask for that anymore. If someone does ask for it, it can be okay if they get back with a yes or no quickly. Asimov’s Sci-fi asks for an exclusive, but they do get back quickly and I like them, so I’ll gladly honor their request.

However, when a magazine says they don’t accept simultaneous submissions and provide no indication when they plan to get back to you, I ignore that policy. Some magazines and journals can take up to a year (or even more) to get back to you. That’s unacceptable to me. If someone else accepts in the meantime, I’ll be sure to let other publications know right away. Most are okay with that. For instance, I submitted a piece to McSweeney’s and later had to withdraw it because the story was accepted elsewhere. McSweeney’s editors didn’t give me a hard time about that at all. In fact, they congratulated me and sent a nice note.

There is a fantasy magazine (if you’re submitting, you’ll run across it) that requires paper manuscript submissions only. Their policy rationale is that since formatting and submitting hard copy is such a pain in the butt, it decreases their submission rate. I’m sure that’s true. I object to their policy on a few counts, though. It’s not environmentally-friendly. It takes much longer to submit, but if my submission was electronic, they could reject it or accept it much faster as well. They’re inconveniencing me on purpose. Where else would you put up with that in life? They’re cutting down submissions with a guerilla tactic. There are lots of writers and we’re obviously expendable. Okay. I won’t submit at all where I don’t feel valued. Problem solved on both sides, I guess.

There are also lots of magazines to which I can send submissions, so that Luddite magazine might not be the loss they think they are. I’m in business. Electronic submission is efficient. Therefore, I’ll work in this century and they can stick to the last one. The irony is, if this magazine were to accept, they aren’t chiseling the text in stone. They’d immediately be looking for an electronic copy of the manuscript! If they worked like everyone else, they’d already have one. Enough.

The main reason I feel it’s imperative to make multiple submissions is, we, as writers, have already waited for publication long enough. There’s a long lag time because the slush pile for fiction is deep. I sympathize. I’ve worked a slush pile (more on that in another post.) But from the submissions side, the process takes so long that if you submit one piece at a time, your odds of dying before publication are excellent.

That was strident. What’s your take?

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