Simultaneously Submitted

I am all for bouncing back. Rejection, um, smejection. In fact, I bounced back multiple times and sent out my story simultaneously to some more literary journals I admire. So there. Fingers crossed, maybe I’ll find a place for this particular story yet.

I am also finishing up drafts of two new short stories. (I told you I’m obsessed with stories right now.) Truth be told, it took me months—months and months—to write them and then let them sit long enough to have the perspective to return to them. This process is just not fast enough for me.

And just imagine if I sent out my stories one at a time to journals that only accept submissions exclusively. I don’t think I could stand waiting, and that’s a real shame because some incredible journals refuse to accept simultaneous submissions. I want to try the Antioch Review, The Hudson Review, The Kenyon Review, Prairie Schooner, the Sewanee Review, the Virginia Quarterly Review. Such good journals. I love reading them. But the idea of sending one of my new stories there, and then waaaaaaaaiiitttttttttting, with the chances so slim… well, if you know me at all you know that would be unbearable.

If any fiction writers are reading this, do you ever forgo submitting simultaneously and send exclusively to the above journals? What kind of response times are we looking at? Weeks? Months? Dare I say it… a year? (Hi, Zoetrope.)

I wonder why some magazines still do this. Is it that much of a pain to withdraw submissions once they’ve been accepted? I’ve had to do that with all of my accepted stories—send the letter or email asking it to please be withdrawn, apologies, apologies, apologies, et cetera—and in some cases the magazine just ignores me completely. Once, I got an acceptance for something about to be published. More than once, I’ve received rejection letters for stories I’ve withdrawn. I got one just last week. Clearly the system isn’t perfect. I guess the only solution is for me to write more, and more quickly, so I can try these incredible journals. Also, to be patient.

Ha. Like that’ll happen anytime soon.

9 Comments

  1. I simultaneously submitted (I wanted to write, “submat”) an essay to two anthologies. It got accepted by both. It was extremely awkward and I got publicly shamed. I won’t ever do it again. I think the trick is to write LOTS of stories (ha, easier said than done) so that some can go the SS route and others will take the more leisurely trek around.

  2. It’s incredible–the magazines that do NOT allow simulatenous submissions should at LEAST respond PROMPTLY! (ie., within a month) Otherwise, it’s just a total torture tactic.

    BTW, I have been advised by respected writers and agents to go ahead and simultaneously submit–the logic being that the chances of being accepted into 2 lit journals are so low. (But of course, you have Susan’s example above, too).

  3. I am completely with you – utterly impatient. I purposely choose to submit to magazines with reportedly quick response times and that allowed simultaneous submissions. Yet, I’ve still been stuck waiting for over 80 days for over five “speedy” magazines.

    Ironically, I did go ahead and send a story I had no intention of sending anywhere else to Sewanee, just for the fun of it. Just to get my first real ‘rejection’ in an envelope (most of my submissions are made online – I’m too impatient to wait for postal mail…) It only took them 69 days to get my predictable thanks-but-no-thanks.

    Best of luck with finding a home for this particular story!

  4. Simultaneous submissions are a fact of life when you’re looking at waiting times that can be measured in geologic epochs. Do you think editors feel the slightest twinge when they ram a form rejection note in your SASE? Therefore, you should feel a thrill of victory when you notify an editor that your tale was taken by the Bongwater Review and you’ll try them again, perhaps, when you have another new tale to offer. I’ve been a professional writer for over 20 years and I can count the number of occasions that I’ve had the same story accepted by two publications on three fingers. In none of those cases was there any “blowback”. I just sent a polite notification to the tardy editor, wishing them better luck next time and moved on.

  5. If I were you, I’d stop tormenting myself about simultaneous submissions and I’d go ahead with them. I’d just take the chance of being shamed once and get over it…

  6. I’m with Smithereens. If you are lucky enough to get one accepted at the same time — mazel tov. Figure out that dilemma while you’re popping the champagne cork…

  7. I can’t stand exclusives. I don’t really submit short stories but I tend to put agents who demand exclusives at the bottom of the submit-to list because the wait kills me (I thought submitting would teach me patience but… no). To think of all those weeks/months your work could be tied up… acck.
    Good luck re: those stories that are out there!

  8. I’m a chicken and don’t ss if it’s says not–but I admire those who say damn the torpedos, etc. It’s probably a bad idea to ss a publication that you’d really like to be in some day, on the chance that you get lucky (unlucky).
    I’m on a kick of submitting only to places that accept electronic submissions–so wonderfully easy!

  9. At VQR, we get such an enormous number of submissions that we’d be doing you an enormous disservice by responding within a month, because such a timeframe wouldn’t give us the time to do anything more than glance at your submission.

    That said, we’ve recently implemented a highly-customized electronic submission tracking system of our own creation and, after a few months of using it, we’ve found a great many ways that we can optimize our submission process. Now that we can track average submission response times by reader, genre, author, etc., we think we have a pretty good idea of how to retool the process so that declinations can go out faster. (Hopefully people are willing to wait for acceptances. 🙂 We’ll implement this as we clear out our queue during our summer break, and hopefully that will accelerate things beginning in the fall.

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