Monday, February 27, 2017

The Crux of Simultaneous Submissions

The writer has to force himself to work.
He has to make his own hours and if he doesn't go to
his desk at all there is nobody to scold him.
- Roald Dahl

I recently saw a post on a Facebook page dedicated to submissions that suggested, "100 rejections in 100 days," as a writing goal.

I liked that. The idea is clearly, if you submit to 100 journals, either online, print, or both, you're bound to receive an acceptance. Maybe two.

But, if you're sending out that often, your risk, (or your blessing depending on your attitude) is having the same piece of work accepted by more than one literary journal. This happened to me with two Ireland based publications a couple of weeks ago. Fortunately, I had kept good records of what I had sent to whom, and all the magazines I had targeted, did accept simultaneous submissions.

In fact, the large majority of publications will, with their only requirement being immediate withdrawal of your work if  another journal has accepted it.  It's an easy enough process, especially if the journal uses Submittable as their collection site for authors work. Just a few clicks and all is forgiven. If the publication does not use Submittable, simply return to their web site for directions. For most, all that is needed is a short note to the editor via email. In fact, when this happened to me,  two editors thanked me for notifying them of my need to withdraw work, and then congratulated me for my success with another magazine! A couple of class acts those two. I will definitely be submitting to them again.

Watch closely for those publications however, that do not take simultaneous submissions. It will be clearly stated in their submission guidelines. If you risk it and send work to them that you've sent somewhere else at the same time, and you do have to withdraw work because of an acceptance, an astute editor will take notice. They'll wonder why you are withdrawing something that was only supposed to be submitted to them alone. It might affect your chances next time. There is an up side though, to these publications: they tend to get back to you sooner, within just a couple of weeks, as compared to several months for so many others.

The other dilemma with simultaneous submissions, is being accepted first by a journal that perhaps is nearer the bottom of the Pushcart List, or not listed at all, and then soon after, receiving an acceptance for the same piece of work, by a magazine higher up on the food chain. It is tempting to withdraw from the magazine that may not be as well read, but that would be bad manners. After all, if a magazine is good enough for you to submit to in the first place, then they are good enough to have rightful first dibs.

I compare it that girlfriend you had in high school who promised to spend the night at your house, listening to the new Cheap Trick record (yes, I said record) but when she got invited by Delicious Dan to the county tractor pull at the last minute, she bailed on you tout suite. So there you sat, alone in your Black-Light-Lit room listening to I want you to want me, over and over while bingeing on Suzie Q snack cakes and Tab.

Magazine editors have feelings too you know.


  1. 100 submission in 100 days! That is a commitment. Nice read. :)

    1. Thank you and you're right, it is a commitment which I have not yet met. I'll do real well for seven or eight days and then...oh look, a butterfly...I get distracted. But goals are good. I like goals.

  2. Congratulations, Donna, on the simultaneous acceptances! This doesn't happen often.
    As to journals and publishing houses that require exclusive submissions, they are not the writers' friends. If you feel you have a great match for such a house, you may submit to them because they are specialized. But these days it is understood that an offering goes to a few places at once.
    And you're so right: good records are a must.

    1. Mirka, it is a frustration when I find a magazine that feels like a good fit but they won't take simultaneous submissions. I feel both excluded and challenged at the same time. I recently started a list of such magazines and I am slowly submitting to them one at a time. The good thing about that is it keeps me motivated to write fresh material.

  3. Definitely congratulations on your acceptances! I know that's encouraging. It was interesting to read about the process and how the internet has made it easier.