Simultaneous submissions: An editor’s perspective

This week’s article is going to come with a mainly editorial, rather than writer’s, hat on. It’s important to know that we expect some short stories to be submitted to other publications as well as to Firewords. We don’t think it’s right for a journal to demand any kind of exclusivity before they have even read a piece, which is why we accept simultaneous submissions. A writer wants to utilise their time effectively and capitalise on their chances of success, so if an editor is too slow to read it and misses out, then too bad.

First off, what are simultaneous submissions? It means a writer is submitting the same piece of work to multiple publishers at the same time but is offering exclusive rights to the ‘winning’ publication, so when they receive an offer of acceptance then they must be willing to negate all other publishers’ offers.

From this it is clear that, if you submit simultaneously, make sure you want your piece to be published equally in each one. You’ve got to be ready to say ‘yes’ to whichever takes it. So start with your most loved choices first, categorise your submissions that way, and regain some control over where your work will go. If you are struggling to decide which places are frontrunners for you, choose those that are prestigious in your eyes. This might be because they are favourite publications of yours, because they are ranked highly in national listings, or because your favourite authors have listed them as places where they have been published. The most important point is to submit in small batches to places that are equally important in your eyes. Think about it like this: if A says yes to publishing your piece, will you be disappointed that you won’t find out what B would have said? You should never feel disappointed in an acceptance so think about this before you hit submit.

A few small points: in your research of places to submit to, it’s important you make sure they allow simultaneous submissions. Most publisher don’t have a problem with this but it is a possibility with some of the bigger names. Also, keep good records of all the places you have submitted to so you can withdraw if, and when, the piece gets accepted. If you don’t do this, not only will you be wasting their time (and getting a bad name for yourself) but you could be taking the place of another writer who was rejected. If, like Firewords, a publication has a time limit on the length of exclusivity to them, then you can re-submit to other places when this time period has expired.

We know, as writers ourselves, the necessity of getting your work out there. You can’t do that if you limit yourself unnecessarily to submission rounds. However, as we’ve mentioned before, we advise a sensible and reasoned approach - it’s surprisingly obvious when writers branch out from ‘simultaneous submissions’ into the worrying sphere of ‘blanket submissions’ (submitting absolutely anywhere, all at once, without thought). When forming simultaneous submissions, you must still put some thought into where you send your piece. A previous article of ours covered the topic of knowing what an editor wants and finding the perfect home for your writing, so give it a read if you’re looking for further guidance.

In closing, here’s a quick summary of what we’ve covered:

  • Always check the guidelines to see if simultaneous submissions are allowed.
  • Choosing magazines of equal merit in your eyes can avoid disappointment.
  • Keep clear records of where and when you submit.
  • After an acceptance you must withdraw it from everywhere else it is still under consideration...

...Then, it’s time to celebrate because you’ve just successfully navigated the tricky (but advantageous) waters of simultaneous submissions! 🎉