Are Simultaneous Submissions a good idea?
Can you submit to several publications at the same time?
This is a question I’m often asked and my answer is always “No.”
Once you have submitted an essay, if it is not rejected immediately as being totally unsuitable, the writing passes between several editors or readers to decide if it is suitable for the publication.
If an editor accepts your essay, but you then tell her “Sorry someone else bought it yesterday”, that editor is going to think very hard before she wastes her, and other members of her editorial team’s, time reading anything else you submit to her.
Send your essay to one publication at a time and wait for their response. Sometimes their guidelines will tell you how long you can expect to wait for a reply, if so then wait that length of time before following up.
If there is no indication of how long they usually take to reply, then wait 7 – 10 days and then follow-up with a short email asking if they have made a decision about your essay.
Attach the essay once again to this email because you will jog their memory about its content.
It’s also quite possible that your original email got lost in cyberspace or in the editor’s inbox and so you will save her having to ask you to send it again.
If you receive no reply whatsoever to your first follow-up, not even a confirmation of receipt, then send a further email about 4 days later.
Still no reply?
If your second follow-up is also ignored then I would then send one more email telling them that due to lack of any response, you are withdrawing the essay submission.
Now you can send it to the next publication.
But what if it’s time sensitive?
If your essay is time sensitive, i.e. it’s relevant to a particular current event/ something that just happened / anniversary / yahrzeit / Yom Tov then put the words time-sensitive in the subject line.
Write a message in the body of the email saying that as the material is time-sensitive, if you haven’t heard from them within 48 hours / 5 days ( whichever is appropriate) you will assume they are not interested and will feel free to submit the piece to another publication.
Not just time-sensitive but urgent
If it’s something that would only be relevant in the next 24 hours, perhaps an op-ed, then if you do decide to send it to several publications put the word ” simultaneous submission” at the top of the op-ed / essay / article so the editor is aware that she is in competition with other editors.
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