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!