Sunday, April 1, 2012

On Simultaneous Submission Etiquette

Dear Simultaneous Submitters,

We are happy for you if your work is accepted elsewhere before we are able to respond. Depending on which editor is checking the inbox and what kind of mood he or she is in, you might even receive a little congratulatory note when we receive your "I need to withdraw my work because it's been accepted elsewhere" message. It's not a big deal for us -- really.

It becomes a big deal, though, when your work is accepted elsewhere and you don't notify us right away. You have to send us an awkward "I forgot to withdraw my submission" email when we send your acceptance letter, and we have to scramble to rearrange our publication lineup. When you forget to withdraw, you are potentially negating hours of deliberation and publication decisions based not only on the quality of work but also on space constraints. When we have to find a substitute piece (or pieces) of the same high quality as yours to fill exactly as many pages as we'd expected your piece to fill, that can be a veritable nightmare.

We promise to uphold our end of the Simultaneous Submissions bargain (we'll take them) if you hold up yours (you'll notify us as soon as the work is accepted elsewhere, as stated in our guidelines). Here's where we're at right now. Most of you follow the rules and send withdrawals a.s.a.p., and we're grateful for that. But with each issue, we've had more and more problems with people who don't follow the rules. They're ruining it for everyone else because we're tired of the headaches. We don't really want to stop accepting simultaneous submissions -- as working writers ourselves, we know how important they are -- but we're getting to the point where we may have to change our guidelines. Stay tuned.

~The Editors

PS: We recommend an online submission tracker like Duotrope if you have trouble remembering what you've sent where. An old fashioned Microsoft Excel sheet can work, too. Hell, Signe still keeps track of her submissions with handwritten lists. Just find a method that works!

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