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.
If you do send a work to multiple publishers and end up signing a contract with one of them, notify the others that your story is no longer available for consideration.
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.
To get a weekly roundup of all my posts for writers, sign up here.
And if you’d like to support this blog, you can buy me a (metaphorical) coffee.
If you found this post useful, you can help keep this blog going by buying me a coffee or becoming a monthly patron via Patreon. Patrons get early access to submission calls and other tools to make publishing and marketing easier.
About Submission Calls
I post paying submission calls every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I focus on fiction calls, but occasionally post paying opportunities for creative nonfiction and poetry.
Browse more submission calls or tips for writers. You can sort calls by payment rate: token, semi-professional, professional, or royalties. To get a weekly roundup of all my posts for writers, sign up here.
I strive to ensure that all submission calls I post are open to works with characters from underrepresented groups, including queer/LGBTQIA characters. I do this by checking the publisher's back catalog, submissions policies, or business practices, or by communicating with the publisher directly.
Please contact the publisher through the links in the post if you have questions about a submission call. Contact me if you've had a bad experience with a publisher featured here.