Depending on the kind of person you are, this could be a little frazzling. If you’re good at managing multiple things, then don’t sweat it.
Simultaneous submissions are when you send one body of work to more than one publication. Some publications might mention this in their guidelines or submission information (which you should check thoroughly).
You send a short story or poem to Publication A, Magazine B, and Journal C. A couple of weeks pass by until you receive an email from Magazine B–they want to publish your story! Yay!
Oh, wait. But what about Publication A and Journal C?
If you want your work to appear in Magazine B, then the very first thing you must do is withdraw your submissions to Publication A and Journal C. Why?
I don’t know how much I can stress reading and rereading the publications’ submissions guidelines/rules. Some accept simultaneous submissions and some do not. Using myself as an example, I tried doing a simultaneous submission (probably won’t try it again).
I’d sent a story to Magazine A a couple of weeks ago. While I was working on other stuff, I looked at my copy of what I’d submitted… read the whole thing again and came to a few realizations:
- I found a couple of errors. So… THOROUGHLY PROOFREAD. I bet I’d left those errors because I was cutting it close with a deadline (GIVE YOURSELF TIME BEFORE A DEADLINE TO PROOFREAD).
- The title of the work sounded dumb to me. While I was editing a little, a better title came to mind. I realized I had a habit of choosing one-word titles, and I probably should’ve stuck to that in the first place. So now it has a one-word title.
- There was this other magazine, Magazine B, that had a deadline coming up and was taking work similar to my story and I thought I could submit my improved version there, so I submitted it.
Once I’d done these things, I felt myself panic. I rushed to Submittable to check my submission’s progress (the original version, ‘member?). Thankfully, nothing had happened with it yet, but now I had a submitted piece I was no longer satisfied with–and I’d just submitted the new version to Magazine B before its deadline!
This was a mess I’m sure most of you would avoid from the start, but someone like me gets in these situations… ugh, all the time.
The two magazines in question were okay with simultaneous submissions–with this important, paraphrased statement: if your work is accepted elsewhere, withdraw it from this publication.
While Magazine A hadn’t accepted the original version, I’d sort of wanted the new version to be published instead (if it ever got published (learn not to get ahead of yourself)), so I withdrew it from Magazine A and left my submission of the new and improved version to Magazine B.
I’m hoping it was just this publication and not all of Submittable’s submission manager, because here’s something I learned about Submittable and Magazine A: if you withdraw something, you’re required to state why. *internal scream*
Magazines and journals want to be the first to publish your work, which is understandable. They’re looking for new and interesting content for their subscribers ALL THE TIME, so they want to be sure someone else doesn’t already have your work.
This extensive article from About.com is about the different kinds of publication rights as well as your rights to your work once it has been published (or not, as the article explains). I recommend giving it a good read–I did, and I learned so so so much… which is why simultaneous submissions became a post topic.
I’m still studying it even as I write this post.
It could be a little rude.
I honestly didn’t think much about the editors when I thought of simultaneous submissions, mostly because I just never assumed my work would be selected. And then, well, I’m the one facing rejection and they’re the ones doing the rejecting, so I wasn’t giving them much sympathy.
While reading up on simultaneous submissions, I stumbled upon this article from Writing-World.com about the pros and cons of it. I realized I was taking a really big risk.
First and foremost, it could be considered rude (or it straight-up is) to submit something to a publication and then withdraw it.
This is what I found scary because when I withdrew my story from Submittable and from Magazine A: the status of it was “In-progress.” *bites nails* I don’t know what that meant, and I don’t want to find out. What if it was being considered for publication? What if it was in a ‘maybe’ folder? What if I was in a list of people they were going to contact for publishing?
The second article I linked to talks about how inconsiderate this could be to editors because what if they saw your work and felt like it fits… and what if they had a spot for it… but then you withdrew it… now they have to scramble for something else to fill that spot with.
YOU just made an editor MAD. YOU just stressed them out, and they might take it out on someone else’s submission. They believed they had YOUR work and YOU took it away. They’ll never trust you again…. I’m legitimately worrying about this now, and I might be overthinking it, but I am still very new to this industry–if I can even say I am in this industry. Only one of my works is getting published so far (more on that later) and I’m still learning–clearly, given these blog posts.
So, my ultimate take on simultaneous submissions… I am officially against it. The second article I linked to suggests “sequential submissions.” This is when you submit one work to one publication… and then wait for an acceptance or rejection.
Got a rejection? Okay, now send it to another publication… wait for an acceptance or rejection.
Got a rejection? Okay, now send it to another publication… aaaaaaaand you keep going until you give up on the story or finally get that acceptance.
While this might be slow, that’s just how it goes. It can be weeks before you get any word, and it might take longer. Some publications recommend a certain amount of time before you can ask about the status of your submission–which varies.
But this isn’t a bad thing! With each rejection, you can take the time to go over your submission… do some light editing if you feel it’s necessary. Proofread again. Give it a nice polish before sending it to another place.
Never stop writing either. My plan is to build a sort of a cache of stories to polish at my leisure, and then when I come across a call for submissions, I can look through my stock and see if I have something–and then I send it!
Still playing around the formatting. I figured pictures would be a nice touch, make my writing look playful as well as informative. I hope I’m still being informative.
Thank you for your time.