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Submissions Tetris Part 4: Simultaneous Submissions

Raja Ravi Varma jugglingThus far, I’ve talked about submissions trackers, submissions planning, and submitting reprints. Today, I’m talking about the stickiest submission trick there is: simultaneous submissions.

Also known as sim subs, there are a HUGE number of markets that do not allow you to submit a story to them and another market simultaneously. However, there are some markets that do–in my experience, mostly poetry markets and literary markets, but also some spec fic markets.

I primarily use sim subs for poetry. A large number of poetry markets have a fairly slow turn-around time, and they’re well aware of this fact. Because of this, they don’t mind if you shop your poems around to multiple markets at once. Coupled with the fact that many poetry markets also allow you to send several poems at once, even a relatively small number of poems can add up quickly. I generally try to keep most of my poems at two markets at a time, sometimes three. Much more than that gets a little more difficult to keep track of, even with the help of submissions trackers and my spreadsheet.

I also have a lot of flash fiction that has only a small speculative element to it–still enough to send it to the spec fic markets, but not so far off from the real world to make non-spec fic markets wince. A number of these stories could be good fits for literary magazines, which, much like poetry markets, have a slow turn-around time and allow for simultaneous submissions to multiple markets. Again, I try to only have a story sim subbed at two to three markets at a time, simply for ease of tracking.

Your mileage may vary on your capacity for juggling sim subs. Some people have no difficulty submitting stories to more than three markets and still keeping track of everything. But between my writing output, number of stories in circulation, and limited sim subs, I’ve got my hands more than full. I may even reach a point eventually where I stop doing sim subs to make my life easier. For now, though, it’s kept my submission numbers higher than they’ve been in the past! I find it also softens the blow of a rejection a little bit–if one market out of three says no, you’ve still got those other two to be hopeful about, and you might not need to find another market to send the story off to right away.

With all this being said, there is a VERY important caveat for writers who are new to the publishing world: if a market says “no sim subs” or some variation thereon, LISTEN TO THEM. Don’t tell yourself that the rule doesn’t apply to you, because it does. As someone who’s co-run a magazine and anthologies for 7+ years, trust me when I say that sending a story to a two or more markets when one doesn’t allow sim subs is a bad idea. We have accepted stories, only to learn that the author couldn’t actually sell the story to us because they’d sim subbed it and already sold the story elsewhere while waiting for our response. Suffice it to say that authors who do this are ones that we then look askance at their future submissions. So don’t be that person.


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