I don’t often think to write about ‘writing advice’ because I have no desire to preach myself a resource of any kind and I am not a resource of any kind. But I do like to whitter on, and my attitude about simultaneous submissions has been wavering lately.
Most magazines allow simultaneous submissions within their guidelines, or, if not, do not specifically shut down the possibility.
The act of submitting work to several or more potential homes at the same time is more understandable for manuscripts– especially novels. It even seems more understandable when talking about submitting short fiction to magazines. But let’s get down to poems because that’s the thing I know about.
- if you’re going to sim-sub, you have to get your shit together and be organized, because unlike other genres you are not sending out singular manuscripts but packets of multiple poems. So you have to know where all of your poems are because the MOST important rule of sim-subbing (if you choose to partake) is to inform other editors of submission as soon as it happens.
- this is where it gets complicated. You know in you heart of hearts that editors aren’t evil, even those ones you trash talk at the bar after a prickly rejection. Simultaneously submitting can get you in hot water with editors, and at the very least give them hassle that can’t be pleasant, especially in a job they probably don’t get much material reward for.
The way that you don’t make things harder for editors in this situation is by being totally upfront. Let them know in the cover letter these poems are out at other places too. If (HUZZAH) you get another acceptance EMAIL THEM STRAIGHT AWAY. Also, make it clear in the subject line that it’s a submission withdrawal, either partial or total.
- the above point implies that first acceptance is the best acceptance. In reality, it’s just COMMON DECENCY.
But this does mean that you really have to think about which group of publications you sim-sub too. It is likely that if this is of interest to you than you already sort of rank magazines in your head. Be explicit and thoughtful about this. Don’t be the person that rejects an acceptance because they are waiting for a response from a better magazine. That makes you a douche. It also demonstrates a lake of forethought and professionalism on your part. When it goes the other way– an editor recalling an acceptance– there is outrage.
This practical advice doesn’t actual go very far in saying you should or shouldn’t do it. Sadly that’s up to you. I’ve been wavering a little on the idea. As much as it can up your frequency of acceptance, there is a risk of messing around editors, maybe even getting a negative reputation. So maybe it is better to wait it out. Or, at least make sure you put in the effort of grouping magazines well, and maybe keeping down the pool to two or three rather than fifteen or sixteen. Perhaps patience really is a virtue.