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What are simultaneous submissions? How are they different from multiple submissions?

person typing on laptop to illustrate the concept of making simultaneous submissions

 

Simultaneous submissions. Multiple submissions. When you see these phrases in isolation, it’s hard to tell the difference in their meanings.

But they do mean different things, and those differences are crucial when you submit work to publishers.

Often when reading a call for submissions from a fiction publisher, you’ll find language like this (borrowed from this Franklin/Kerr Press call):

No simultaneous submissions will be accepted. Multiple submissions from the same author will be considered but please note that only one story per author will be accepted to allow for greater variety and diversity.

“Wait,” you might think. “You just said I can’t submit multiple stories to you simultaneously, but then you said I can. What gives?”

What gives is that “simultaneous submissions” and “multiple submissions” are bits of jargon that have distinct meanings in the publishing industry. Let’s break them down.

What are “simultaneous submissions”?

In publishing, “simultaneous submissions” means sending the same story to several publishers at the same time, then waiting for their answers to roll in. Authors like doing this because it shortens the time between completing a story and publishing one. Otherwise, you send one story out to one publisher, wait several weeks to months, probably get a rejection, and then send it to another publisher to repeat the process until your story is finally accepted.

Another benefit of simultaneous submissions is that, if you get accepted by more than one publisher, you can compare offers and choose the one that makes you the most money. If you submit to just one publisher at a time, there’s nothing to compare.

But some publishers don’t like simultaneous submissions because they risk finding a story they really like, reaching out to its author, and then getting an answer from the author along the lines of, “Oh. I signed a contract last week with a different publisher.”

These publishers feel that the time they spent digging through the slush pile to find your particular gem was wasted. Plus, they might not be in the mood to start a bidding war.

Okay. Got it. So what are “multiple submissions”?

“Multiple submissions” means sending more than one story to the same publisher or anthology call at once. Some publishers are fine with multiple submissions; they want to decide for themselves which of your pieces will suit them best. Others worry that allowing multiple submissions will encourage authors to send dreck along with gold, and they only want to see the gold. These latter publishers tend to stipulate “no multiple submissions” in their calls.


This is the first in an occasional series about understanding calls for fiction submissions. I hope you found it helpful. If you have a publishing question, leave a comment below so I can answer it in a future column.

Browse more tips for writers or submission calls. Other than the occasional charity anthology, all calls for submissions that I post are paying.

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