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27 October 2008 @ 02:07 pm
"Too Much Sense" on Flashshot; "SImultaneous Submissions" Question  

Today you can read my drabble "Too Much Sense" on Flashshot.  (This one has enough "genre" in it to satisfy even kaolinfire .  :)

Meanwhile, I have a question for y'all to ponder.  Many markets, both electronic and print, indicate that they "do not accept" simultaneous submissions -- meaning that they do not wish an author to send them a manuscript that is also being reviewed by another market.  At the same time -- I'm speaking strictly of the short-fiction market here, not the novel market -- many of these venues take anywhere from three to six months to give a response, which is rather a long time to wait.

I was surprised, at the Wesleyan Writers Conference in June, to hear the editor of a respected literary journal encourage simultaneous submissions.  I then asked him how a writer ought to react to a journal that does not allow simultaneous subs.  His response was, "Sc*** them; if they're going to hang on to a manuscript for three months, they have no business expecting you to give them an exclusive option for that whole time period."   Immediately he was asked what to do if a story were accepted by two different markets which both forbad simultaneous submissions.  He said, "You should be so lucky; the odds are very heavily against it.  But if it happens, I guess you're going to burn a bridge with one of those two journals.  Too bad.  So, okay, maybe you wouldn't send simultaneous submissions to the New Yorker."

I've been pondering this.  Markets that are very fast (i.e., respond in less than a month) have, it seems to me, a legitimate claim to request that you give them an exclusive look while they review your manuscript.  And there are some markets (say, Asimov's) as to which I'd never want even to take a chance of burning a bridge.  But what about all those others, the magazines with an average 180-day turnaround on Duotrope that aren't always the Mecca of All Manuscripts?  Do you risk pissing them off or not?

To clarify:  I'm not asking what you actually  do; I'm asking for your opinion on the matter.


Current Location: A Blue State
Current Mood: curiouscurious
Current Music: "Castle on a Cloud"
J. Kathleen Cheneyj_cheney on October 27th, 2008 07:00 pm (UTC)
It is frustrating. I have a couple of manuscripts at markets that have been there longer than a year, so I do understand.

I suspect that the truth of the matter is that the editor of the 'respected literary journal' is willing to allow simsumbs to his publication.

I still wouldn't do so with any market who says 'no' to that.
Kenken_schneyer on October 27th, 2008 07:13 pm (UTC)
Ah, but why? What interests me about this question is the ethical and/or professional ramifications of the question.

Let me put it this way: When someone says, "Do not make a simultaneous sub", does that mean that any submission you make to her carries with it an implied promise that it itsn't a simsub?

Secondarily, does anyone have the right to make such a request, in light of current market conditions and their own slowness of response? I suppose we might say, "If an editor requires that all submissions must come from authors wearing transparent underwear when the first draft was composed, then our response is either to wear the stuff or not submit to that magazine." But isn't an equally valid response, "Requests that do not improve the editor's ability to select suitable manuscripts in an efficient manner are not relevant and need not be honored." Or rather, "How is the editor or the market harmed if the request is not honored?"
(no subject) - kaolinfire on October 27th, 2008 07:21 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ken_schneyer on October 27th, 2008 07:36 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - j_cheney on October 27th, 2008 07:31 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ken_schneyer on October 27th, 2008 07:42 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - j_cheney on October 27th, 2008 07:45 pm (UTC) (Expand)
moonette1moonette1 on October 27th, 2008 07:10 pm (UTC)
Obviously I'm not very experienced in short story submitting, but seeing what you've been going through and reading about others' experiences on AW makes me want to agree wholeheartedly with your Wesleyan person's advice. You can always send notice to the other journal asking for them to remove your piece from consideration without telling them why, right? (If you get accepted bythe other, I mean.) It's your career and your life here; to them it's just another story. I find it hard to believe someone would burn too many bridges that way. Plus, it seems that some respected markets are coming to this realization and allowing sim subs - Glimmer Train, I believe.

Good luck!
quasi randomkaolinfire on October 27th, 2008 07:18 pm (UTC)
"You can always send notice to the other journal asking for them to remove your piece from consideration without telling them why, right?"

Not really. I mean, you can, but by doing so you're pretty much implicitly stating that you did simsub.
(no subject) - moonette1 on October 27th, 2008 07:43 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ken_schneyer on October 27th, 2008 07:57 pm (UTC) (Expand)
quasi randomkaolinfire on October 27th, 2008 07:17 pm (UTC)
(in my defense--it wasn't that it didn't satisfy due to lack of genre; it was that I really thought I was missing the genre due to the context of the mag ;) )

My opinion on simsubs -- follow the guidelines religiously.

Sure, six months is a long time for one market to hold on to a piece. Write more, send them out. ;)

You seem to have the hang of that well enough :)

I've accidentally simsubbed a piece before--and both markets accepted. Luckily, one market is much slower than the other, and that's the one that actually accepts simsubs. They were happy to publish it as a reprint "some time down the line".
Kenken_schneyer on October 27th, 2008 07:25 pm (UTC)
I was just pulling your leg about genres. :)
(no subject) - kaolinfire on October 27th, 2008 07:29 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ken_schneyer on October 27th, 2008 07:43 pm (UTC) (Expand)
ajjones on October 27th, 2008 08:31 pm (UTC)
Pssshhht. Never follow that rule for shorts or articles. The only time I honor that rule is if a publisher or editor asks for an exclusive on novel. The writing world is about nothing but wait, and if others want to add to that by abiding by the no simultaneous sub rule, that's their choice, but in my opinion, it's too much to ask. I can understand if it's a long piece that the editor spends hours reading--ie a novel. But for a short? No way. Cobwebs form too fast.
Kenken_schneyer on October 28th, 2008 01:35 am (UTC)
Hi Adrienne. Since I've been trying to "push back" on everyone's arguments, let me try that here too.

I agree that waits are too long, and I might even agree that increasing those weights by forbidding simultaneous submissions is adding insult to injury. But is the right (ethical) response to ignore the request of the editor? Would it be better simply not to submit to that market?
(no subject) - rosathome on October 28th, 2008 08:48 am (UTC) (Expand)
amamamaamamama on October 27th, 2008 08:31 pm (UTC)
Love that drabble - you sound like you're describing the life of a medical intuitive.

So regarding the simsubs and such - it's not something I've thought much about, but I'd say go with your gut feeling. Do what feels right. Only you'll know what you're ok with doing. If you're ok with not adhering to the no simsub rule, fine. It's your writing, your work after all.
Kenken_schneyer on October 28th, 2008 01:37 am (UTC)
Hi Berte. That's good advice in general.

But how about as an ethical matter? It is the author's work, as you say, but it's the editor's magazine.
(no subject) - ken_schneyer on October 28th, 2008 01:38 am (UTC) (Expand)
rosathome on October 27th, 2008 09:57 pm (UTC)
I think you should start simultaneous submissions for all but the very few that you really, really don't want to run the risk of alienating. I think that if you were getting a significantly higher take-up rate, this wouldn't be a good strategy, but as it stands, I definitely think the pay-off is likely to be greater than any potential loss.
Kenken_schneyer on October 28th, 2008 01:42 am (UTC)
Hi, Ros. That's a very pragmatic argument, from a Utilitarian point of view.

But hm, what does your Inner Theologian say about it?
(no subject) - rosathome on October 28th, 2008 08:46 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ken_schneyer on October 28th, 2008 02:42 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - rosathome on October 28th, 2008 02:48 pm (UTC) (Expand)
ninja_pencilninja_pencil on October 27th, 2008 11:03 pm (UTC)
Yes, in most instances I absolutely advocate the risk of pissing them off. I think they're usually asking too much.

Nice drabble too :)
Kenken_schneyer on October 28th, 2008 01:43 am (UTC)
Thanks, Chris.

Is the ethical standard, "If you ask for more than I think is fair, then I should ignore your request?"
(no subject) - ninja_pencil on November 7th, 2008 11:12 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Antosha Chekhonte: Hmmmmmm...mickawber on October 28th, 2008 03:56 am (UTC)
I have two reactions to the whole simsubs. One is a sort of Marxist-realpolitik analysis: the editors, having little power, exert what power they can on those even lower in the food chain. But come the Revolution...!

The other is... dem's is de rules. The odds of it benefiting you really aren't that much greater than the odds of it biting you in the behind. ;-)
Kenken_schneyer on October 28th, 2008 03:02 pm (UTC)
"Marxist-realpolitik" my eye; I know a Vaudeville punchline when I hear one. :)

Actually "dem's is de rules" sounds a little like another Vaudeville punchline, "Pay the two dollars."

So your first reaction, if I'm reading you right, is power-based (one owes nothing to those who exercise illegitimate power), while your second one is more formalist (rules are to be followed because they are rules).

But as to the first argument, couldn't we say that the power exercised by the editor is legitimate (trying to reduce the number of manuscripts received at any one time, so as to do a better job reviewing those that are there)?

And as to the second argument, most formalists will verify the authenticity of the rule (that it came from someone who is authorized to make rules) before saying it must be followed. So how is the editor the one who gets to make the rule?

Happy birthday, by the way!
(no subject) - mickawber on October 29th, 2008 09:23 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ken_schneyer on October 29th, 2008 09:26 pm (UTC) (Expand)