Thursday, September 17, 2009

Multiple Submissions Etiquette

Multisubmitting manuscripts is a normal process. With the exception of a few cases, you really can't expect to wait for one person to get back to you before you submit to someone else. Yet, as I have stated in the past, you really shouldn't be submitting a manuscript to that many locations because it simply doesn't fit in all those places due to the voice of the story. That, of course, is another story. Today I want to deal with ettiquette.

This actually came up this last week with me. As I go through this scenario, let me talk about the things you should and shold not do.

An author had submitted a story to me in a proposal. I requested the first three chapters but hadn't seen that yet. This last week, she emailed and said she had received an offer of acceptance from another agent. This was good. Letting me know someone else is looking at it early on in the process is great. If I am really excited about something, I might want to read it faster, but let me tell you, I won't rush the reading. Although some writers have claimed that pressure makes the agent more eager to sign you, it is false. It will still come down to if I like it or not.

Now, I don't remember if in the query she stated the story was a multi-submission. If she did, great, if not, it isn't a major issue but read the submission guidelines for who you are submitting to. Many openly state you have to tell them. So do it.

In this case, I hadn't received the partial yet. My records showed that I had requested it, but there was a chance I had read it, but just hadn't written my response yet, so it wasn't logged into my database. It wasn't there either so I was a bit worried. I have sometimes forgotten to log something into the computer after I read it, or sometimes the mail screws up. I wasn't sure if the letter she had written had that tone of "Where is it?" or "Just letting you know." So I called.

At this point this is when the next part of the scenario comes into play. When I called she had stated that it was on it's way but she was letting me know. Whew, that was good for me. But here is the twist. The other agent did request but she wasn't sure what to do. She told the other agent she wanted some time to think about it. But the problem was this. Telling an agent, you want to wait because you want to hear from another agent tells the agent they were never one of their top choices. By the time you get back to the agent, after waiting for all of your top choices to get back to you, it really says you aren't the best.

The lesson in this case is simple. When you submit, the expectation is that you will go with which ever agency wants to sign you. If you never have them on the top of your list, then don't submit to them at that time. Also, look at the turn around time. In my case, I am known for being very fast in a response. If someone else is a several month turn around, then wait on mine until later.

The key to all of this is professionalism. Let us know, be honest and think.


  1. "Telling an agent you want to wait because you want to hear from another agent tells the agent they were never one of their top choices."

    I'd actually disagree a bit. I plan to submit to my top three agents on the first round. Yes, one of them is my super-dream-fall-over-dead-if-they-call-me agent, and I'd wait on hearing from them before going with one of the others. But that doesn't mean the other two aren't also top picks in my estimation.

  2. I think that you should never ever ever ever ever talk down to an agent.
    1.They don't have to be taking their time to cretique your work.
    2.You should always take every chance you get, because that chance may necer come again.
    3.That agent can tell other agents that you told them to wait because you wanted to hear from someone else, and that is never good.