Wednesday, September 9, 2015

PSL - Publishing as a Second Language—What is a Simultaneous Submission

PSL - Publishing as a Second Language
by Linda Gilden @LindaGilden

Simultaneous submission is another writing term that is seemingly self-explanatory, right? Well, yes. 

Just send a manuscript simultaneously to several publishers. But there are a few things that will help you understand how the process works.

For Books
When I first started submitting books, I was a bit timid to try out the simultaneous submission thing. What if I messed up? What if more than one publisher wanted my book? How would I ever keep track of all the details?

Waiting to hear about a book proposal can take months.
So for a few years I only sent one proposal at a time. If you're familiar with the process, you know that waiting to hear from a publisher about a book proposal can take months. Way back then (as my grandchildren would say) there were no email submissions, only postal submissions in big brown envelopes. Waiting for an answer seemed like forever and it was often more than six months waiting for a reply. So at best, you could probably only send your book proposal to two publishers a year. If I had continued to follow my one-at-a-time plan, my first book would probably be still making the rounds!

It is very simple and safe to submit a proposal to more than one publisher at a time. Publishers actually expect it. The key to doing this successfully is to keep good records so you will know where your manuscripts are at all times. Whether you are still hanging on to an index card file or using a computer-created chart, the important thing is that you have it in a format you can easily read and add to with each communication. 

Some of the crucial elements to your record keeping are: 
  • Name of manuscript. 
  • Date submitted. 
  • To whom it was sent – publisher and editor name. 
  • Simultaneous or not. 
  • Responses from the publisher. 
For quick reference I include projected word count and whether or not the manuscript is complete. I also like to have a column for other potential markets if none of the originals bring in a contract. Always be sure to record in the response column whether or not your manuscript is going to a committee, has passed a committee, or something else. That way you know when to pray especially for those meetings.

And this is true for full manuscript requests. You may receive multiple requests for a full manuscript at a conference. Again, send them all at once, just let them know it's a simultaneous submission.

For Articles
simultaneous submissions aren't as common with articles.
I have heard several professional writers say that they send out simultaneous submissions for articles as well as books. Because the response time for articles is usually less for articles, I don’t do this.

Another reason I don’t do this is because record keeping is even more important for article simultaneous submission. And since response time is shorter, there is much greater possibility of missing something. So I would rather be safe. However, in your record keeping chart for articles, I would definitely have a place to record multiple possible markets. That way if you receive a rejection, you are ready to resend your manuscript to another publication.

If you are going to submit to more than one publisher, whether a book or article, be sure to let them know at the time you submit. A simple line at the bottom of your cover or query letter that says, “This is a simultaneous submission,” will do.

What publishing terms have you confused? Be sure to leave your questions in the comments section below. Remember, this is a no-studpid-question zone!

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Linda Gilden is a wife, mother, and grandmother. She finds great joy (and excellent writing material) in time spent with her family. Her favorite activity is floating in a pool with a good book surrounded by splashing children!


To find out more about Linda, her writing, and her ministry, visit www.lindagilden.com. You can also connect with her on Twitter @LindaGilden and Facebook at Author Linda Gilden.

1 comment:

  1. Linda, back when I submitted my non-fiction book on the loss of a spouse (about the time the earth's crust was cooling, as I recall), I did a double-take at the response from the editor who actually published The Tender Scar. "If your book is still available..." Why wouldn't it? As a newbie, I had always been careful to stipulate in my proposal that this was a simultaneous submission, and this editor was aware of that, whereas I looked on the language as just so much boilerplate. You're exactly right--simultaneous submission is the thing to do. Thanks for the tips.

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