Ugh, the dreaded words for any debut novelist: “We do not accept simultaneous submissions.” Don’t get me wrong-I get it. Why should a publisher or agent put their time and energy into a manuscript when you may sign with another press or agency?
I’ve done an extensive amount of research on this subject. Especially, since a few terms can be confusing. For instance, a publisher may accept “simultaneous submissions,” but not “multiple” submissions. Although every press and agency is different, the general guidelines are that simultaneous submissions are a single work sent to multiple agents and presses at the same time. A multiple submission is sending the same agent or publisher different manuscripts before receiving notification on your initial submission.
What’s an author to do?
The general consensus I’ve gathered is new authors should submit their work to multiple agencies at a time. It’s hard to break into publishing and waiting around for weeks to months for a reply is not typically a viable option. If a publisher or agent does not permit this practice, you have to make a clutch decision and determine whether or not you want to hold off on submitting to anyone else.
However, if you do send out simultaneous submissions, do so in batches. Instead of querying a hundred literary agents, for instance, send out your fiction novel to ten at a time and wait another month before sending out another batch.
What I have learned along the way is to put in your cover letter that the work is a simultaneous submission. Editors have stated that the statement does not hurt your chances of approval. Also, if you do decide to sign with anyone else, contact the agency to inform them in the change in your status.
With an established author, you’ll likely want to avoid submitting to multiple agencies. Editors don’t want to make an offer and then have you withdraw in case you get a better deal.
RESEARCH each literary agent and publisher before you submit to them. This can help you learn about their submission policies and avoid some embarrassing snafus on the way (I’ve learned this the hard way with Second Sight, he he).