Simultaneous Submissions

On a panel at the PPWC on Saturday, one of the New York editors said, “It is so hard to get published these days, it doesn’t make sense not to do simultaneous submissions.”

The panel went on to discuss how inefficient it is to send something to one agent or editor, then wait until they respond before sending to someone else.

Most agents and editors agree, and I am definitely one of those.

The normal response time from an agent or editor can be anywhere from a couple of months to a year. Because of the volume, there’s just no way to get to things faster. So obviously, you will go crazy if you are only submitting to one person at a time. We all expect that you are simultaneously submitting. If you’re not, and instead you’re submitting to one person and hoping/emailing/begging them to respond, that person may not appreciate the pressure (flattering though it is). I promise, they are getting through their stacks of submissions as fast as they can. Their lack of response to you is not remotely about you.

Just remember, when you send your materials to more than one person in the industry, be sure to mention in your letter “this is a simultaneous submission” as a courtesy.

Now here’s something to think about… and I’ve never heard anyone else say this, so be sure to let me know your thoughts. If you are simultaneously submitting, I suggest you target either agents or editors, not both.

The reason is simple. If I, as an agent, decide I want to represent you based on your manuscript, then I find out you’ve already sent your manuscript to a long list of publishers, you may have killed (or at least maimed) my chances of selling your book. If you want an agent, concentrate on that first. Then let the agent target the publishers.

Of course, if you’ve shown it to editors face-to-face at a writer’s conference, that’s different. When you’re at a conference, use every opportunity you’ve got. Talk to everyone about your work!

In any case, the main message here is: definitely submit your work to multiple (carefully chosen) industry professionals at once, and avoid putting pressure on any one person.

Not that I’m feeling pressured or anything! 🙂


On another note… if you haven’t been over to Mike Hyatt’s blog lately, click on over and read the last several posts and the comments. It’s a great discussion, and I’ll be blogging about it tomorrow.

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


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  4. Bruce Judisch on May 29, 2008 at 9:33 AM

    >Thanks so much for addressing this. I’ve wondered about the nuances of how agents feel concerning simultaneous sumbissions; i.e., is the pressure higher knowing there are other agents looking at the query? It didn’t occur to me that the opposite might be true–until now.

    Confession time: I sent my query to you alone as an initial submission. (Sorry!) Please don’t infer any pressure; none was intended. 🙂

  5. Tanja on April 29, 2008 at 2:56 PM

    >Interesting,I would never query an editor simply because I would want all of the know-how an agent can offer. On the other hand, it might be intersting to pitch an editor at a conference that sounds alluring and I don’t know why.

  6. Suzanne Hartmann on April 29, 2008 at 11:21 AM

    >I’m so glad to see that it’s okay to send to multiple agents at the same time. Your opinion echoes what I’ve felt, but I worried that I was breaking some type of unwritten publishing rule.

    As I prepare to go to my first conference, it’s also good to know that it’s okay to approach editors with my pitch even though I’m targeting agents right now.

    Thanks for sharing, Rachelle. Your insights into the business are always helpful!

  7. Andrea Emerson on April 29, 2008 at 8:57 AM

    >Thanks, Rachelle–good advice, as usual. By the way, did you see Michael Hyatt’s post on Thomas Nelson’s new policies and choosing which books to publish? Very interesting read –