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Author Topic: No Simultaneous Submissions
Denevius
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I often think this rule is similar to 'No Jaywalking' laws most cities have. No one follows them, but yeah, you can get pulled over and fined in unfortunate circumstances.

There just seems to be something inherently neglectful to perspective writers when publishers put this in their submission's guidelines. First and foremost, the odds of getting published are already astronomical. In all the years I've been doing writing conferences and taking classes, I have *never* heard a story of an unsolicited manuscript sent to two places, accepted by both, and then rejected by both because it was a simultaneous submission.

And really, that's not even the way business works. If you have a hot commodity, you try and sell it to the highest bidder. Why is it that publishers feel that they can tell writers, "Yeah, send it to us, we might not respond when we get it, it'll probably take 4 to 6 months (but if we're interested, it could take longer), there's a chance you won't get a response at all, and to top it off, there's a higher chance of getting struck by lightning than getting an acceptance. Oh, and by the way, don't send it to anyone else for that half a year in which you're almost assured to get a rejection anyway."

I've always been surprised that publishers still put that instruction in their submission guidelines. I can kind of understanding their reasoning, as I guess they perhaps think it limits the size of the slushpile. But again, it's a completely selfish reason, as they're basically telling you not to send to anyone else in the hopes of making their job easier.

I can also kind of see if this reluctance for simultaneous submissions is for agented submissions that they are actively looking over. But even then, if you're the writer of the next Twilight or next Harry Potter, why isn't your agent shopping around your novel to get the highest bidder?

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Meredith
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quote:
Originally posted by Denevius:


I can also kind of see if this reluctance for simultaneous submissions is for agented submissions that they are actively looking over. But even then, if you're the writer of the next Twilight or next Harry Potter, why isn't your agent shopping around your novel to get the highest bidder?

Actually, I think agents do "shop mss around" if they feel it's appropriate. Otherwise, there'd never be an auction. It's only us unagented authors who are told, "No sim subs."
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extrinsic
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Simultaneous submissions are a complication for short stories begun back in the bygone day of serial publications publishing a few creative narratives alongside news, editorials, and classifieds, that naturally carried over into novels. I've seen several anecdotes by writers and publishers about the complications of more than one house accepting a manuscript. One recounted a manuscript accepted by three different houses within the same month, after, of course, prolonged waits for an answer from anyone. One anecdote recounted a short story accepted and published by two different digests.

Where one chokepoint is is at copyright rights acquisition. More than a few writers have simultaneously submitted works and let them be published simultaneously. They, of course, were blackballed, because the law only respects one copyright per work. Another chokepoint, if one publisher believes they have preliminarily acquired rights, they can plan accordingly for publication from date of formal acquisition or prior. Another chokepoint, parallel, is the house has invested time, effort, and funds considering and advance preparing a project for publication.

Simply put, respecting no-simultaneous submission guidelines is a professional writer courtesy akin to a handshake agreement, sufficient in a respectful way before a formal contract is executed. Also, if a house accepts simultaneous submissions, a professional writer will timely notify of acceptance all who received submissions that the work was accepted elsewhere.

One ancedote recounts how a house accepting simultaneous submissions sat on and pondered unsolicited submissions for its usual time, liked one, notified of acceptance, went ahead and published, not noticing that the contract hadn't been returned and was embarrased when the story appeared in another digest at the same time. They'd missed the writer's timley notice that the simultaneous submission had been picked up by the other house.

Though no-simultaneous submissions seems to writers like a one-sided siege mentality favoring publishers, a reality is publishers have a need for protection from duplicative practices.

Imagine the digest publisher who plans for publication up to a year in advance, not uncommon, by the way. They received numerous unsolicited submissions; many houses report thousands per cycle, ten of thousands per year. Filtering through them takes time. They find a few gems in the rough, among many immediately rejectable works. The house has already planned most of the upcoming issue will publish solicited submissions from known commodities. That's a fact of publishing. Those few gems are given great attention: publishable but thumbs up or thumbs down? Timely? Relevant? Marketable? Just too daggone entertaining to pass up? Regrets the publication just doesn't have room for it this season?

Acceptance notice and contract goes out. The issue is laid out with the story included. Oh! I'm sorry. I already sold it to another house, in which the story will appear shortly. Or worse, the story is contracted and published by two houses during the same season.

Worse yet for a novel.

These are facts of publishing culture.

It behooves a writer to act professionally. One of the more important considerations is any given writer is one among possibly millions competing for the same single space as all the others. Two objects cannot occupy the same real-estate space. In the end, of any given project and all-over career, many embarrassments and complications and hurdles will be avoided. Consider the market's needs and obstacles, in this case, publishers', then these issues become trivial compared to the real challenges of meeting creativity's demands and navigating marketplace competition.

[ April 09, 2014, 04:16 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Denevius
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I think we can all agree that once the writer has signed a contract, their work is no longer legally able to be produced anywhere else. And any writer who signs multiple contracts in order to have their writing published in multiple venues is beneath contempt. And, I would guess, breaking some kind of law.

However, I simply can't agree with any argument that basically boils down to one of convenience for the publisher when it comes to simultaneous submissions. That's just not how it works for other industries.

I guess my question is how is submitting a piece to be published different from submitting a resume to be hired at a job? Or different from submitting an application to be accepted to a college or university? In every other submission scenario, it's understood that a certain level of work has to go into weeding out applicants who are acceptable from applicants who aren't. This isn't a problem only publishers have.

Lots of organizations have their own version of the slushpile, and none that I've heard of has created a rule that perspective applicants must submit to *them* only, and then must wait sometimes half a year for a reply before submitting elsewhere. Why is publishing different?

Others may know more than me on this, but I think that it would be a bad business practice for publishers to start the process of publication *before* a contract has been signed. I don't exactly understand why this would be the case. If it takes a year to get a novel ready, then don't schedule it to be released until a year and a half, if it takes six months to draft the contract. Because up until the time that the author signs the contract, they are *legally* able to go to a different entity.

This idea of a gentlemanly handshake is nice and all, but I'm pretty sure if I wanted to buy a book from any of these publishers, they wouldn't give it to me on a handshake that I'll pay them later. They'll give me the book when I pay them, and not a moment before.

If I, as a writer, get an offer for a five figured book deal, and it takes six weeks to draft the contract, well, up until I sign, I'm legally able to jump to someone else if they're offering six figures. And the question becomes, well, why shouldn't I if I so choose? What right does a publisher really have to tell me to wait until they've made their decision and finalized everything?

The average person weighs their choices and takes the best offer in most financial transactions. Why is publishing different? If I haven't signed a contract, why do I have to leap on the *first* offer, and not the *best* offer?

I'm a little more sympathetic to smaller publishers. They probably aren't making money anyway, and it probably behooves them to have writers not do simultaneous submissions. But then, I'm also sympathetic to small authors. Publishing through a traditional, yet smaller, publisher, increases the chances of employment at universities if you're a teacher. And the publisher saying to just wait for up to six months when an individual has real world realities to deal with is patently unfair.

I don't think many small authors are expecting to become rich, but they do have expectations from publishing. Because the wait time is so long, and because you're not even guaranteed a response, sending off to multiple publishers becomes almost a necessity.

But basically, what the publishers are saying is that because you *might* make them work more by doing simultaneous submissions, it's advised not to, even though your odds of being rejected by them is significantly higher than the odds of being accepted by them.

[ April 09, 2014, 06:12 AM: Message edited by: Denevius ]

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Robert Nowall
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I'm inclined to think that a lot of publishing practices, relating to the submission and purchase of literary works, really don't have much to do with publishing at all. But that would lead to another rant about these practices, and there are several by me around on this site, if you think it's worth hunting up.

"No Simultaneous Submissions" does strike me as another one of those "rules" that puts the seller (the writer and / or the agent) at a disadvantage, putting the buyer (the editor / publisher) in the catbird seat. Gives the buyer exclusivity over the object-for-sale, giving the buyer as much time as he likes before making a "Yea" or "Nay" decision.

And it's not done much elsewhere in the business world. Would you, say, sell a house if you had to let one possible buyer have an indefinite period of time to make of his mind, without some consideration (financial or otherwise) for your time?

Seems to me one could submit a (printed) MS to a market, identify it as a Simultaneous Submission, and let the publisher / editor accept or reject it on that basis if he so chooses.

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Denevius
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The scenario strikes me as strange. You, as a writer, beat these immense odds through a combination of hard work, dedication to your art, and luck. And the publishers' response is, "Yeah, you're good, and there may be a several other houses that want you. So, how about we create this culture that says that you can only submit to one of us at a time, thereby lowering your bargaining opportunity."

Because, of course, if you submit to five publishers, and three want to publish you, you have the opportunity to sit back and say, "Well, okay, but who's making me the best deal?"

But if you only submit to one at a time, then your bargaining edge is gone. You have one and only offer, so you have to take it at whatever terms the publisher is offering. Because they can insinuate that no one else may be interested, and how can you counter that? You don't know, because you only sent it to one place.

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extrinsic
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A writer naturally feels alienated by publishing culture until accepted and at least popularly if not critically acclaimed. Monetization of art is a different business model than the everyday staples and material goods commerce of the business world.

A mass production print novel is a physical product and within everyday business models as such, due to mass production and distribution models. Electronic novels are more so mass production beneficiaries, because production and distribution models are less limited than physical object production and distribution models.

Prior to such commodification, though, a narrative is an uncopied original artwork comparable to a fine art painting or sculpture. In some cases, the artwork is perhaps a mere artisan crafted construct, which may have comparable value for its utility rather than its artistic aesthetics, yet nonetheless an uncopied original.

Not only is the product a property, the creator becomes a commodified property, if the creator generates buzz, perhaps revenue, and certainly attracts an eager, approving following.

I explain this to art students, no matter their genre--painting, sculpture, photography, music, live performance, choreography and dance, etc.--: An appealing artist expresses an evocative message that builds name-brand. Before the artist can begin to raise name-brand appeal, the actual cost of producing will be higher than returns. A scuplture that costs much in materials, tools, supplies, funds, efforts, and hours may only raise capital equal to a machine-manufactured, mass-produced object, or less, or if any. For all intents and purposes, at this point, the art and the artist are apprentice undiscovered and unappreciated and among a countless multitude of equally struggling apprentices.

However, once the artist's wares are in demand and the supply, naturally, is limited, consumers begin to run up price-value in excess of the actual costs to produce artware.

The sculptor who only makes artisan products, like everyday precious metal jewelry, say eagle and dragon motifs, might barely make ends meet as a kind of hobby artist.

However, if the same artist and motifs express an appealing and evocative message, an original expression about the human condition, say eagle and dragon mating on the wing as if it's a talon fight, as Romeo and Juliet starcrossed lovers, symbolizing nation-state love-hate strife between the U.S. (eagle) and China (dragon), and consumers find that message accessible and emotionally satisfying, if for no other reason than an exclusive, peevish subversion no one else in her or his circle "gets" and many others as well are moved by, the demand exceeds the cost-price-value point, the artist has managed the magic of creating a name-brand.

This is no less applicable to creative writing. We'd all, I'm sure, love to start out of the box at the top of the marketplace. We don't all have to debut somewhere, sometime. Some very few do start at the top, after an apprenticeship cycle. Most start below the bottom and attempt or fail to pry their way ahead of others on a downward spiral, or others who've stalled, or others who move slower up the hierarchal pyramid's daunting ramps. But for Providence's grace, and continuing determination, there too down or up go I.

[ April 10, 2014, 08:20 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Denevius
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quote:
Most start below the bottom and attempt or fail to pry their way ahead of others on a downward spiral, or others who've stalled, or others who move slower up the hierarchal pyramid's daunting ramps.
I agree with this. The scenario in which an unpublished writer sends off to five publishers and gets three offers is probably so improbable that it's negligible. What's more than likely to happen is that, for a decade or more, you write, submit, and get rejected, rejected, rejected. Then, one day, out the blue when you should have given up all hope by now and haven't, you get an acceptance.

The fact that it tends to happen like this makes me wonder why publishers have as a guidelines 'No simultaneous submissions' when the odds of an unpublished author getting multiple offers is almost unheard of.

But even if an unpublished author had written something that was so hot that all the big names now wanted it, what *right* does a publishing house have to tell this individual to deal with them and *them* alone, and to wait for their reply until they get around to it? We're a society that rewards talent, not penalizes it. If three magazines all want my story all, inexplicably, at the same time, well, you know, compete. We're also a society that thinks competition is healthy. If I've written the next "Cask of Amontillado", don't try and limit my options of where I can sell it because it benefits you and not me. If you're a magazine that gets my story in the slushpile, and it takes you six months to get to it, but there's another magazine that got to it five and a half months and responded, well, that sucks for you, but that's life.

And as Meredith pointed out, agented writers who have proven the selling power of their fiction are probably having their next titles which aren't under contract shopped around to the highest bidder. It's only unpublished writers still trying to break into the market that are given this unreasonable request on the off chance that our short story/novel is so good that multiple agencies would be interested.

Once a writer signs away that contract, that's it.

But other than that, there should be few to no guaranteed expectations from either party. Because this no simultaneous rule seems to exist not for the ordinary writer, but the extraordinary one who has achieved the improbable.

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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The rule exists for the publishers, because the publishers are the buyers in this aspect of the business, and up until recently (when epublishing became an option that might become powerful), the publishing market has been a buyer's market.

And in a buyer's market, I believe the buyers are the ones who get to set the rules.

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extrinsic
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Though I'm hardboiled cynical about hidebound bureaucracy in general, publishing culture generally isn't one I have many qualms about. Draconian as submission principles are, they serve a purpose, more practical than another historically prior or potentially future method in my estimation. The path to traditional publication success is quite simply a screening process that rakes the cream off the crop.

That maybe one per ten thousand out of six million ambitious writers makes a modest income from writing is to me neither here nor there: demand for quality product is greater than the supply. Many products are placeholders in my estimation: shelf fillers so an inventory doesn't appear sparse and so that standouts have stalking horses by which to compare. No coincidence that most traditional publishers' back lists are populated by steady revenue performers: demand for quality literature continues unabated.

About the only publishing practice adjustment I can see that would make submission less anxious for writers is clearing houses not directly affiliated with publishers. authonomy comes close, but it to me is a popularity pageantry driven by personal promotions rather than writing ability. Out of tens of thousands of submissions offered for publication on the site, a rare several few have actually risen to publication acceptance. Frankly, I think the process there gives writers false hope.

Emergent writing career scenarios: one, a writer goes through a short story apprenticeship. stepping up the hierchal ziggurat from low-end houses to top tier markets. Payment of nothing up to $0.50 per word--the writer becomes a proven commodity that drives circulation enhancement. Markets that pay $0.50 per word don't advertise it. A few markets notify that they pay $0.25 per word. At the time that that writer is recognized as a proven commodity, that writer rarely has to submit unsolicted submissions anymore, is usually invited or recruited to submit, and oftentimes paid in advance of even writing the product in the first place. At about the same time, the writer's collected short works are solicited by an agent or book publisher for anthology reprints, and for collected short work publication. Also, for writers with long writing legs, novels enjoy similar solicitation recruitments. Note in author bios for successful short story recognition publishers aggressively recruit those writers.

Two, solely novel apprenticeship. This is more daunting a climb because book-length works by first-time novelists are an appreciably higher investment risk. However, succeess only takes one standout novel for cultural recognition. Most solely novel writers report several unsuccessful attempts before placing a low though reasonably successful revenue performing product, or unsuccessful over the haul, recycling back to the short story approach, or abandoning altogether the life of writing for publication.

Three, a writer who pursues both the short story and novel paths, as well as possibly literary critique or method analysis. This is me.

Cynic though I am, traditional publishing's contests, clashes, struggles, anxieties, and miseries and accolades and laurels to me are welcome because they are competitive.

If publication success were easy, everyone would participate and it would be meaningless.

I frankly couldn't care less about traditional publishing's seeming draconian practices, because I know how and know deeply that I can either enter into a buyers' market or become a sellers' market, or both.

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Robert Nowall
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I should say---it's hardly a great burden for me to send one manuscript to one market at a time. I wouldn't do it if I were selling a house.

It was kinda annoying when one of my submissions took two-hundred-some days to come back to me, which did prevent some other use I planned for...

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Meredith
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quote:
Originally posted by Robert Nowall:
I should say---it's hardly a great burden for me to send one manuscript to one market at a time. I wouldn't do it if I were selling a house.

It was kinda annoying when one of my submissions took two-hundred-some days to come back to me, which did prevent some other use I planned for...

For short fiction, when I was still attempting to write anything short, it wasn't a problem. Yeah, there are a couple of really slow markets, but generally you go into that knowing ahead of time and if you're not willing to wait, you can submit elsewhere.

For novels it's way different. There aren't as many markets, for one thing. And they don't pay fairly standard, disclosed rates of so many cents/word. Also, take a look at a few of the larger publishers that will even consider 'over-the-transom' submissions. Most of them say that it will take six months to a year for them to get back to you. And they want an exclusive for all of that time.

Those of you who write short fiction probably have multiple stories out on submission at any given time. A novelist likely doesn't.

And some of the better short fiction markets get back to you in only a couple of weeks. Sometimes even less. It's just not as great a burden for short fiction.

And, frankly, with the shorter turnaround of short fiction, it makes sense in that venue. How many short fiction markets take two years from purchase to publication? (There probably are a few, but I doubt it's the norm. It is the norm for book publishers--because, with modern technology available, they choose to keep to a time table tied to older technologies. After all, they don't even pay all of the advance until publication. That isn't one lump sum. It's tied to events along the glacial publication schedule.)

This all just conspires to force the novelists into querying agents who, as gate keepers, make the publishers' job easier. And agents can do what the publishers don't want authors to do--submit to multiple publishers at the same time.

As KDW said, it's a buyer's market, at least for traditional publishing. Fortunately, that's no longer the only option. It all depends on what an individual author chooses to do.

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extrinsic
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Novels accepted for publication are often on a conditional basis: contingent upon adaptability toward editorial input, meeting deadlines, oversight by an agent, contract negotiations, and production schedule.

Payment is based on a royalty arrangement agreed upon in an executed contract. Royalties are typically paid at around 10 percent of actual revenue received by the publisher. Royalty percentages may be open to negotiation, by savvy writers and certainly by an agent. Ask for a sliding scale royalty, for example, if sales exceed five thousand copies, another percentage point. If sales exceed ten thousand, another point. And so on.

A book manufacturer can produce tens of thousands of copies during one setup run, if the demand justifies a large production run: one hundred thousand or so and higher. Generally, though, two thousand or so copies is a standard debut writer's production run count. Rarely, anyway, is a first printing much higher than twenty thousand.

The gold standard royalty payment of writers' interest, so to speak, is an advance against royalties. Few publishers pay hefty advances, if any, for debut writers anymore. Due to that practice, I do suggest negotiating a sliding scale percentage.

Let's do a little math. A book's cover price is a high retail, manufacturer's recommended retail price. Assume a $25.00 hardback novel. A publisher will sell direct to consumers at that price roughly ten percent of overall copies sold. Secondary distribution divisions will sell roughly another ten percent at ten to twenty percent discount. Most sales, roughly sixty percent will be through retail booksellers: brick and mortar, online, etc., at fourty percent discount. Book clubs and other volume distributors will sell the remaining twenty percent at as much as a sixty percent discount. By the way, when negotiating rights, book club and such volume distribution can be negotiated separately or even excluded altogether.

All that boils down to, without careful calculations, roughly $1.00 gross royalty per hardback book sold. Trade paperback about $0.75 per copy sold. Mass market paperback about $0.35 per copy sold.

Note that remaindered returns, copies shipped to distributors and delivered to booksellers reported not sold amounts to as high as sixty percent or more. Forty percent is an optimistic number.

Optimistically, two thousand hardback copies manufactured comes out after average remainder deduction to a gross royalty revenue of $1200.00. A negotiable advance against royalties for such a book might go as high as $500. The remaining royalty amount to be paid per seasonal quarter, half year, or fiscal year, depending on contract terms. Also, a royalty contract clause and balance statement will list a reserve against remaindered returns. Thirty-five percent is standard. The first, usually third, of an advance is paid at the time final, and hopefully once, galley proofs are received by the publisher. The second third upon publication release; the third third at the end of a first season's negotiated date.

Book publishing cycles by seasons. So publishers issue royalty statements by quarter, half year, or year. That too is a negotiable contract term. One nonnegotiable contract term most publishers insist upon is a statement showing a positive balance lower than a set dollar amount ($50-$200), including reserve against returns deduction, will carry over to the next statement cycle, though due paid at the end of a fiscal year. A novel's seasons are generally considered ended after one year, with exceptions. A final statement will come shortly thereafter, with totals itemized, and disposition of any remaindered and unsold copies. And any balance owed paid. If sales continue into a new year, the cycle starts over.

Many debut writers do not receive a royalty advance offer nor can they or their agents negotiate one, because the publisher won't take the added exposure anymore. These writers might not receive a royalty payment at all for several quarters after first season release.

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A Yeatts
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I'll speak from the other side of the fence. I publish an online short fiction magazine with a turnaround time of 3-4 weeks for a form rejection. We have a firm no simultaneous submissions policy. My magazine pays pro rates and is an SFWA qualifying market. I get submissions from the top professionals in the field. My staff and I work our tails off to keep our turnaround time as short as possible so authors will send their manuscripts to us FIRST. That means I get first dibs on the best stories on the market. I don't want anyone else looking at those stories until I get to say yes or no on them. That means no simultaneous subs where they could be fished out of slush by an editor who recognizes their name and shoots them to the top of the list.

For the unpublished author, that means you get a fast turnaround as well... for a form rejection. But if you're sitting in my slushpile longer than that, it's because you've made it into the winnowing round and are in serious contention to be published. If at this point, you yank your story from me because you have tried to sneak under the radar with a sim-sub and actually got published, guess what? I will remember your name. And I will not think of you so kindly the next time you come through my slush pile. We won't black-ball you. My slush readers read anonymously. But my senior staff and I can see your name. And we'll have in the back of our minds that we wasted time reading your story, critiquing it, rejecting other stories to make room in winnowing for you, only to have you break our guidelines and pull out.

It's business pure and simple. As a publisher, I want the best stories on the market in order to make money. When I make money, I have money to pay authors (ie. you). If you want to be published in a pro-magazine alongside the big boys and girls, that's just the way it works. Competition is fierce.

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Denevius
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Haha. Somewhat antagonistic response. Which, you know, groovy.
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Robert Nowall
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Short turnarounds do help. But I'm not sure of the rest of it---I wonder, for instance, whether or not you would let, not Unknown Unpublished Writer, but Big Name Pro Writer, make a simultaneous submission if Big Name Pro (or His Agent) wanted to work that way. Are all Writers created equally?

Remember, too, on the writer's part, it's also business pure and simple.

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Meredith
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And again I say: It's very different for short fiction and for novels.

For the most part (except for well-known writers), your rates are the same for everyone. And you likely disclose them on your submissions page. This is very different than for traditional publishers of book-length works.

As far as I remember, only a few short-fiction publications had response times even close to those for over-the-transom book submissions. Roughly a month as compared to six months to a year.

How many writers of short stories have only one story in circulation at one time? You don't care if the writer has a different story out to another publication. You probably wouldn't publish a second story by the same writer in a short time span anyway. But novelists are routinely told to submit/query only one book at a time. Even sending different novels to separate publishers could cause a problem.

Sorry, if it's beginning to show that I'm souring on the whole traditional-publishing hamster wheel.

If I wrote short stories, it'd be different. But the last thing I tried to write as a short story is now 90,000 words long.

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extrinsic
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Dissatisfaction, disagreement, and dissent are as much part of publishing culture as simultaneous submission guidelines.

Self-publishers are sort of dissenters, subversives in that self-publication subverts otherwise conventional practices. Only, unfortunately, self-publishing success may be measured in tens or hundreds of sales, compared to thousands or more for conventional publishing.

For me, one publishing culture characteristic of note is the number of slots conventional publishing supports. For novels, about ten thousand new titles are published annually. That's what the market will bear currently. Slightly more than half come from full-time, self-employed writers publishing one or two titles a year. The others come from debut writers with once-and-done titles or sporadic novel writers.

Roughly a third of all novels conventionally published annually are fantastical genre, fantasy slightly leading science fiction, science fiction leading horror, and the remainder are largely literary fiction, mystery, thriller, and romance. Western, while not dead, is a distant last.

Those full-time, self-employed writers average $40,000 net per annum and roughly full-time work weeks comparable to wage work, or two thousand working writing hours per year, including researching, planning, drafting, revising, editing, corresponding with editors, agents, and publishers, and self-marketing work: packaging, promoting, publicizing, and advertising.

A novelist aquaintance of mine wrote a novel that was initially self-published through a partnership with an independent imprint. The novel came to the attention of Plan B, Brad Pitt's production company, which bought the film option. Subsequently, Harlequin MIRA out of Toronto released the novel in 2013. Plan B developed the novel into a television pilot that ABC picked up on a two-year deal. The series debuted March 2014. Resurrection, airing Sundays on ABC. The novel's title is The Returned by Jason Mott.

A trilogy of the same franchise milieu has since been released by Harlequin MIRA. The novels and the television series have enjoyed rave reviews and globe-spanning audiences.

What did Mott do differently from millions of other struggling writers? He reinvented revenant genre to suit contemporary Western audience spiritual belief systems, maintained the reality imitation illusion audiences crave, and writes in an accessible and appealing aesthetic language artistry. Also, he packaged the novel for a startup publishing scheme, marketed it to potential outlets, got it into the right hands, self-marketed, and struck while the iron was hot.

This is one route for using self-publishing to great advantage: write an appealing novel, grab readers by their throats and don't let go, self-publish under an independent imprint--one the writer participates in but is not named under as an editor or publisher so that the self-published stigma is masked--market, market, market, and pray for buzz, Buzz, BUZZ.

Frankly, the writing is not to my tastes. But--Nothing succeeds like success.

[ April 14, 2014, 10:33 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Robert Nowall
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Something that floated up out of my mind while pondering this is my hearty dislike of the assumption of power behind this condition-for-submission, and other conditions. Arrogance.
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JSchuler
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As long as short-story publishing is a buyer's market, don't expect things to change. If you're good enough and well recognized, then you're basically in your own market and the terms will be different. If you're unknown, you'll be treated like everyone else.

That said, I agree with Robert that there seems to be a good portion of arrogance that creeps into the process. When you send a story off for publishing and don't hear back for months, that's disrespectful, even if the reason for that silence is they made it through to the final selection phase. A little communication can go a long way.

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Robert Nowall
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I exaggerated a situation for the sake of argument. I know full well Big Name Pro or His Agent would more likely be hit up for a submission from the market, rather than be writing something up on spec and shopping it around with simultaneous submissions.
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Denevius
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quote:
When you send a story off for publishing and don't hear back for months, that's disrespectful, even if the reason for that silence is they made it through to the final selection phase. A little communication can go a long way.
Both replies in support of the policy seem not to do much in answering this question.

quote:
But my senior staff and I can see your name. And we'll have in the back of our minds that we wasted time reading your story, critiquing it, rejecting other stories to make room in winnowing for you, only to have you break our guidelines and pull out.
So, you start this process without informing the writer? Why would you do that? I would think a successful business model doesn't just start work without some kind of methodical process to ensure that the work you're doing is worthwhile.

Meredith pointed out how the publishing industry is still suck in an archaic mindset when it comes to technology and productivity, and from these replies, I have to agree. Shooting an email off takes five or ten minutes, and doing so probably limits the amount of unnecessary work towards a piece you have to do. The amount of sympathy one has for a market that refuses to embrace the modern era is muted.

I'm not sure how long a promarket takes to draft a contract, or even if they do at all. Most of them say they're buying first rights, or something along those lines, but is this just a verbal contract? If this is the case, I can understand why there'd be a policy that asks writers not to have two publishers working on their story at the same time to later pull out of one. But I never understood 'no simultaneous submissions' to mean that. That's more like 'no simultaneous publishing'.

That, I can agree with, because in a case like that, a writer is wasting time and money of publishers who can probably afford neither. But that's just not simultaneous submissions. Submitting something and getting an offer for something is different.

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extrinsic
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Submission management was an onerous task in the Paper Age. Writer SASE used to be standard for at least status notification: acceptance or rejection. Once upon a time a receipt notice was also a common practice, by self-addressed, stamped postcard. Postage to and from was a writer's expense. Many digest publishers report thousands of submissions. Mail rooms used to do the preparations, like opening submissions, returning SASPs, winnowing out junk mail, and interoffice distribution to addressees: fiction editor, for example. And handled the outbound journey as well: rejection notices, acceptance notices, returned manuscripts.

Managing submissions was a tedious, costly, and time-consuming burden in the Paper Age. Many houses report receiving thousands of submissions yearly, monthly, or even weekly. It is a deluge with maybe a few gems every so often. The rest is chores with little to no value.

All that vanished with Digital Age technologies that have come of age recently. Submission manager software now accepts submission uploads for most every digest house. Book publishing is catching up. Submittable is a subscription submission manager service used by small and low tech savvy houses. Server apps like Submission Manager are catching on at more tech savvy houses. Either way, they manage submissions and allow registered writer access to track a submission's progress: received, rejected, first, second, third, etc., read, held over by the editor, accepted, even allowing revisions before acceptance or rejection. Those apps also automate e-mail address capture and correspondence. Rejection notices go out instantly and allow form or form with a few notes comments or form with personal comments. And, of course, acceptance forms.

Not a few minutes times ten thousand rejections per annum adding up to five hundred hours filling rejections, but as little as one click and rejection done in a few seconds per submission. The read and evaluate still has to be done, maybe the first page's first thirteen lines, if not sooner. The Name That Tune gameshow in publishing culture: "I can tell if a manuscript is rejectable in ten words," claims the first contestant. One book agent reported that a queue of five hundred submissions accumulated while the agent was on vacation took a morning to process digitally.

Then there's other transparency features, like sample contracts. Here's a link to Flash Fiction Online's sample contract: Sample contract PDF

Publishers are catching up with digital technology. The learning curve is not as steep as implementing and adapting to new technology and business models are, though the learning curve is still steep. Publishers aren't yet all the way there. They are getting there, though.

Frankly, with the emerging speed or at least efficiency of submission management increasing, I think no simultaneous submissions will become ever more important. Too easy to submit to as many houses as wanted and then withdraw them from all but the highest or fastest payer. But those softwares track writer activity too and allow blocking a writer by e-mail address.

I once received a rejection e-mail four hours after I submitted a manuscript. That was head-spinning fast.

[ April 16, 2014, 08:06 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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A Yeatts
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Digital submissions have also opened the flood gates to submissions. My staff and I get between 800-1000 submissions a month. We just don't have time to email everyone back and tell them where they are in the process. It's not just slush that I have to consider. I'm also dealing with illustrators, sending contracts, running a website paying authors, dealing with advertisors, subscribors, promotions, and trying to bring in new readers. There's simply not enough time in the day to let all ONE THOUSAND of those submissions know where they stand in the queue. We do our best. We really do. But my staff is run by volunteers. We all have other jobs. And I write my own stories, spend my own time sitting in slushpiles and waiting for editors to decide.

In a perfect world, yes, I'd send everyone a note and let everyone know. But there's just no time. It'd slow the process down to an absolute halt. It's just the ugly reality. Publishing is a slow, grueling business that unfortunately is not warm and friendly unless you make it to the top of the heap.

And no. We don't solicit big name stories. Big name stories sit in the slushpile just like everyone else. And they get turned down just like everyone else if their story doesn't make the mark.

At the end of the day, the best stories get a yes. The not so great stories get a no. You can rationalize it until the cows come home. But if you're being told no, don't blame the publisher. Or favoritism. Or sim subs. Or bad luck. Just work harder on your writing and keep submitting. Good stories really will be found and published no matter how long it takes.

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A Yeatts
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And we have each story by at least two, if not three slush readers before sending a no. Hadn't you rather wait a little longer and know that your story wasn't rejected because one reader was having a cranky day and decided all the stories in their pile were worthless just because their coffee was bad? We take our time to make sure that all those stories are actually read.
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Denevius
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I'm not sure if this:

quote:
We just don't have time to email everyone back and tell them where they are in the process
Is in response to this:

quote:
So, you start this process without informing the writer? Why would you do that?
And that is in response to your earlier comment:

quote:
But my senior staff and I can see your name. And we'll have in the back of our minds that we wasted time reading your story, critiquing it, rejecting other stories to make room in winnowing for you, only to have you break our guidelines and pull out
The implication in your last two posts seems to be that you don't have time to tell 800-1000 people where they are in the process, but what does that have to do with the small number of people who you've decided to publish and whose pieces you have already started putting in additional work with? You don't have time to give them a heads up, either? Approximately how many people out of the 800 stories you get is this? If you're a typical eJournal, I would think that's less than 30 stories/poems/essays per issue. And many magazines/eJournals don't come out monthly, but sometimes bimonthly or every four months. Why is there not enough time to respond to two or three dozen people that you're interested in their writing and want to publish it? Considering everyone else is just getting a form rejection anyway?
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A Yeatts
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The assumption most writers make is that if you don't hear from us within that 3-4 week window, then you're in winnowing.
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A Yeatts
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And those other 95% are in the process of receiving their rejection letters... that alone takes a great deal of time. Not to mention that the entire staff reads each of the 20-30 stories in winnowing and gives detailed feedback on each of those. It's a process that takes hours. Now multiply that times fifteen. The investment is enormous for those 30 stories.

Basically, if you're not willing to wait, then don't submit. Because if you're in that 30 and we're spending that much time on you, you better not yank your story at the 11th hour. It's a publisher's biggest pet peeve. And as it's been said over and over again. It is a buyer's market.

You can swing at me all you like. But that's just the way it's done.

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Denevius
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quote:
You can swing at me all you like.
I apologize if it seems like my questions are swinging at you. That's not my intention. It is true that I wonder at the veracity of your comments, but if this seems antagonistic, I'm happy to lower my tone.

Again, no ill intent meant in this discussion.

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extrinsic
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The journal of which A Yeatts speaks uses Submishmash for submission and submission management. Once a writer has registered and submitted, the writer can return and monitor the status of the submission. An automated e-mail notifying successful upload and receipt goes out almost instantly.

These above are now standard practices across submission management applications. This is a negative right, in that the writer positively, proactively monitors a submission's status or, in the negative alternative, doesn't.

Analog and Asimov's use online submission managers, Fantasy and Science Fiction doesn't yet. Interzone does. The New Yorker does. Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show doesn't yet. Baen Books does; Tor and DAW don't yet.

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A Yeatts
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No offense taken. [Smile]

Publishing a magazine is an enormous amount of work. I get a lot of complaints and grumbles from authors. I do what I can.

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Robert Nowall
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I think of a long wait as the literary equivalent of Schrodinger's Cat. 'Till it turns up in my P. O. box, the manuscript is half-rejected, half-accepted.
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posulliv
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I recently had the opportunity to play editor, where I had to read nearly 250 short story submissions. I wasn't making the decisions, or even contributing to them. But I rode shotgun, and saw what the process looked like from the other side of the desk.

This wasn't slush, but the stuff that would get picked out of the slush anywhere. There wasn't a bad story in the pile, and ultimately the decision came down to matters of taste and fit.

You could not pay me to do that job on a regular basis.

Personally, I would not simultaneously submit to a short story market even if it was allowed. I'd just write another story. No waiting is involved. It's not like we're talking years here.

I think I'm a lot better writer now than I was when I first started submitting. Submitting hasn't helped. Writing has. Since most rejections leave me clueless as to the reasons for rejection I just ignore them and keep writing.

I try to send my stuff to editors whose magazines I like first, because even it's a buyer's market it's still a matter of taste and fit.

Novels are a different story.

[ April 18, 2014, 06:30 PM: Message edited by: posulliv ]

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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quote:
Originally posted by A Yeatts:
The assumption most writers make is that if you don't hear from us within that 3-4 week window, then you're in winnowing.

And yet, I've heard of editors who have decided that they don't have time to send out rejection letters and expect authors who haven't heard from them within a specified amount of time to assume that their submission is not wanted.

It's fine if an editor decides to do one thing or the other, as long as which one is made clear in the submission guidelines.

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A Yeatts
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Excellent point.

I personally don't send to editors who won't take the time to send me a rejection letter.

We'll definitely let you know accepted vs rejected even if we don't have time to give updates along the way. I swish we had time to do more, give more feedback, etc. it's just not feasible on a time management level.

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extrinsic
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I've received rejection or acceptance notification from each submission, query, proposal I've sent, by SASE or e-mail. And have submitted many. The rejection pile continues to mount; the acceptance pile not so much.

If submission guidelines don't cue what's going to happen, I don't submit to that house. Period. I have other cues I interpret. If the house insists on, say, Times New Roman typeface, and states all others, even Courier, will be summarily rejected, I don't submit to that house.

If the house only accepts paper susbmissions and doesn't state its reply and return policy; for example, by SASE, though manuscripts themselves are recycled or are returned given sufficient postage provided by the writer, I don't submit to that house.

If the submission guidelines read as though they are not updated periodically, they seem out of date, for example, I don't submit to that house. They might be closed or at least have a lackadaisical attitude toward submissions generally. No thank you.

If the submission guideline about "what we publish" states an indeciperhable or loblolly clever-cute expectation: We publish neo-liminal urban babysitter horror with potent setting and metaphysical belief motifs that claws at viscera; I don't submit to that house.

If the submission guidelines have glaring and egreggious typographical and grammatical errors, I don't submit to that house. They obviously are indifferent to style and to submissions generally.

If the submission guidelines don't state a payment policy, I don't submit to that house. If they state they don't pay, and do provide at least one copy of the publication or a subscription if an entry fee is required, I might submit to that house. If an entry fee is required for an online submission and the only accepted payment method is PayPal, I don't submit to that house. If a fee is required and I think it's just a revenue grab ploy, I don't submit.

The short story marketplace has at least five thousand possible outlets, about half of which are reasonably reputable public business fiction digests and the other half reasonablly reputable fiction journals associated with academic institutions. At least ten thousand possible reasonably reputable book publishers are in the marketplace too, though only five hundred or so imprints are associated with major entertainment conglomerates and their strong distribution channels, the rest independent or guerilla publishers. Some are academic and some public businesses.

The strangest submission response I received was a publisher's catalog stuffed into the SASE--Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope. Not even a form rejection letter, no yes or no, just marketing literature. I spent a few weeks figuring that one out. "This is what we publish. Take a look and understand why your submission is not right for this house. Thank you." Ironically expressed, probably by a frustrated screening reader. I was yet an unsavvy writer at the time.

Writers have choice powers that offset publishers' powers. Yet rejection is a fact of writing for most writers. This is because the mechanical style, craft, voice, and appeal is below audience expectations. Because I target houses, cyber stalk them, so to speak, for me, below expectations is very simply what an impersonal form rejection notice tells me.

[ April 19, 2014, 01:44 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Robert Nowall
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The problem with submission guidelines is that, if I followed them to the letter, I wouldn't have any markets to submit to at all. I wouldn't send heroic fantasy to Analog, but I don't write their kind of technocrat-science-based stories. But if what I've written fits the tropes of SF but doesn't have heavy doses of science---most of my stuff does and doesn't---I'll send it on, losing nothing but time and postage, least as far as that angle is concerned.

Besides, all the markets I look at semi-regularly, from time to time, publish things that contradict or violate their guidelines.

(Note to myself: Must pop over and take a look at the submission standards at Analog now that the new guy has taken over.)

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genevive42
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Analog is running real long response times and has been since the change-over. Don't know when they're going to get back on track. As most of my stuff barely fits their style anyway, they're currently off my list of places to sub.
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Robert Nowall
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Yup, that's a downcheck, long wait for a bounce. My last story took from the end of last June to early this March. On the other hand, I've had a couple come back in four days---one wonders whether they read it.
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