If you’re a writer, trying to get your stories published involves a good deal of waiting around to hear back from people. Often, that long wait ends in disappointment and rejection (my personal record wait for a response is 477 days), if you get a reply at all.
Of course, most editors have a much faster turnaround, but even so, a lot of folks are tempted to beat the system by sending their work to several editors at the same time, regardless of what it might say in the submission guidelines.
Is that a good idea? Personally, I totally understand the frustration of waiting for a train that might never arrive, but in most cases, unless it specifically says it’s okay in that publication’s guidelines, I don’t think we should do it.
What if your writing and/or story idea stinks? – sorry, I seem to be channeling my old gran this morning.
What if your writing and/or story idea isn’t yet at a standard where it has a good chance of finding a home?
One of the rejections you get might offer some constructive feedback. You take the advice on board, improve the work, and prepare to send it elsewhere…but you can’t, because all those other places on your list already turned it down.
What if your writing and/or story is exactly what several publications are looking for?
Sure, the idea of two or more editors offering to publish your story sounds great, but the editor(s) who you turn down aren’t going to be happy.
Unless theirs is a one-person operation, these folks didn’t just glance through your work and decide to purchase. There’s a slush process, which means other people spent time reading your story. They picked it out from a whole lot of others to send to the editor, who then read through all the other recommended stories, deciding which ones might best fit in the next issue.
I can’t imagine they’d be pleased find out you wasted their time.
Is the current system perfect? No, but it’s the one we have to work with. These days, publications have their own websites and blogs, so it’s much easier to see where they’re at in the selection process.
Mind you, if there’s no turnaround time mentioned on the site, I’d be inclined to give them (say) sixty days, then send a gentle reminder. Ten days after that, if they’ve not replied (automatic messages don’t count), I’d cross that particular publication off my list and move on.
Of course, that’s just my opinion.
How about you?
What's your take on simultaneous submissions?
should writers make simultaneous submissions?