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 once.
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.