Tuesday, September 3, 2013
The Art of the Simultaneous Submission
Using the simultaneous approach when submitting to editors and agents is a very common practice, and yet, I do believe, it is one that many writers fail to understand how to approach. For most agents and editors, we expect that projects we receive will have been submitted to other editors and agents. Still, there is an art, or rather a right approach when it comes to submitting your project to more than one person.
I have mentioned this a lot here on the blog, but sending your project out to everyone listed in the Guide To Literary Agents is not recommended. In fact, you will find that it will probably come back to bite you in the butt later. When we see e-queries where you have sent the same email to multiple agents at the same time tells us that you are not really doing your work and you probably don't know what you are doing. The odds are that we will remember who you are and we won't take anything you send us later seriously. Take the time to do your target research.
I say this all of the time when I am doing critiques of query letters - remember to target each query letter to the specifics of that individual editor or agent. This means that you find the right match for you, your project, and where you want to go to with your career with that of the potential editor or agent. You are simply not going to fit with everyone. As you review their submission guidelines, look at what they believe is the perfect story in terms of plot, theme, characters and setting.
Finally, we know that you will be sending the project out to multiple people, but you need to know that when you send that project out to say 5 people, ALL 5 of them will work for you if they offer representation. For this reason, I recommend not sending it out of them but to start your search with your top 5. Then go to the secondary group of 5 and so on. Again, if any in that round say they want to represent you, you should be good to go.
Now, let's talk briefly about editors. Like everyone else, we know you will be submitting to several people. But when it comes to editors, you need to be aware of a couple of things. First of all, you don't send it to imprints that are in the same publishing house. These imprints are unique and different. They certainly don't want to get into a bidding war among themselves.
Along the same lines, you don't send the project out to multiple editors within the same imprint. They are already going to be talking to one another about the projects and know that if it doesn't work for one of the editors, they will likely discuss it with the other editors. By the way, this will also go for agents in larger agencies. They do talk to one another.
Now, when it comes to agents, the same rules apply. We don't send it to several agents in the same agency. And yes, if one of them says no, we don't turn around and query someone else in the agency. A no is a no.
There are two more issues that we need to remember when it comes to the simultaneous submission. First of all, tell them it is a simultaneous submission in those query letters. It is just a common courtesy. And secondly, if one person does make an offer, it is OK to A) tell that person you want to get in touch with the other agents/editors to let them know; and B) it is OK to pass on that person if someone tells you in when you contact them about the offer that they want to work with you. The key is transparency.