Have you ever read submission guidelines where you see the
phrase, “no simultaneous submissions?” Freelance writers dread that phrase for
many reasons. Under most circumstances, you’ll see it when markets have long
response times. When this happens, it gives the editors exclusivity when
considering your work. They know no one else is reading it, or that there’s a
chance it may be published elsewhere.
What does this mean for you, the freelance writer?
Even though many freelance writers tend to shy away from
markets stating they won’t accept simultaneous submissions, that doesn’t mean you
shouldn’t send anything to them.
What’s a Simultaneous Submission?
Before we get into the nitty-gritty about if you should or
shouldn’t send to these markets, let’s take a step back to look at the definition
of simultaneous submissions. That way, we’re clear regarding the terminology.
Simultaneous submissions are single pieces of writing you
send out to multiple markets, publications, or venues. These can be a
combination of digital and print publications. They accept work from writers
knowing there’s a chance the work may be published elsewhere. However, when you
receive an acceptance from more than one market, you must choose one and decline
the offer from the others. Here’s an example of a decline you can write:
I want to withdraw my [story, article, blog post, poem,
etc.] from consideration. It’s been picked up by another market. I appreciate
your time and consideration.
Do These Pieces Have to be Sent at the Same Time?
No, to be a simultaneous submission, your work doesn’t have
to be sent at the same time. For example, you may have a piece that’s currently
under consideration by a print publication. Then, a week later, you may find a website
that’s a good fit and send it there. Both markets are considering your piece
simultaneously. That makes it a simultaneous submission.
Are Multiple Submissions the Same?
No, there’s a difference between multiple and simultaneous
submissions. When you send a variety of work to the same publisher, that
doesn’t mean you’re sending simultaneous submissions. Instead, you’re sending
multiple submissions to the same target market. Simultaneous submissions differ
because the same piece of work is sent out to a variety of targets.
Why are Simultaneous Submissions Beneficial for Writers?
Freelance writers benefit from sending simultaneous
submissions because it increases their chances of their work becoming
published. For example, if their work is sent to one target market with a long
response time, they have to wait months before sending that work to another
lead if it’s not picked up. On the other hand, if they can send that same work
to dozens of markets at the same time, they don’t have to wait as long to
receive a positive response.
Be Careful About Sending Simultaneous Submissions
While sending simultaneous submissions is beneficial, there
are some risks you should pay attention to during this practice.
Choose Your Markets Carefully
Your acceptance rates will be much higher when you choose
your markets carefully. Sending submissions to twenty-five markets chosen
because they accept simultaneous submissions may not work if they aren’t a good
fit for the piece you’ve written. It may be more optimal to select five markets
that have to do with your niche topic.
Think About the Time You’re Spending
Are you spending hours submitting to multiple markets,
instead of a handful of those you carefully pick? You may benefit more from
writing more pieces to submit to carefully picked markets instead of sending
the same piece over and over again.
You May Submit to the Same Target Twice
When you’re sending multiple submissions out, mistakes
happen. Even when you’re meticulously tracking where you’re submissions are
going, sending out in quantity may make you submit to the same target more than
There’s a lot to think about regarding simultaneous submissions.
The first thing is not to confuse them with multiple submissions—that’s an
entirely different thing. It’s also essential that you’re thinking about the
targets you’re selecting for your piece, as well as how much time you’re
spending sending it out. Be sure to keep track of where you’re piece is going
to ensure it’s not hitting the same market twice. If your piece gets picked up
by more than one market, be sure to withdraw it from consideration from the
others by sending a brief message.