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Simultaneous Submissions

I was at the Northern Ohio SCBWI conference this weekend in Cleveland, and I got several questions about simultaneous submissions. Just as I was thinking of crafting a post about it to remind writers that it’s not only okay but recommended to query multiple agents at a time, I found the following excellent post from Chuck Sambuchino on Writer Unboxed. There must be something in the air!

Chuck’s points are all valid. He encourages writers to submit to batches of 6-8 agents at a time. If you get no requests at all, there’s something wrong with your query or your writing sample. If you get no good feedback or full requests after sending out writing samples or partials, your work isn’t quite there yet. Critique helps here, so will your writing partners. The one thing I’d add to this post is that exclusive submissions do have a place…but only in one or two instances.

One is if you’ve been working with an agent on a manuscript and they’ve given you several rounds of revision notes or if you’ve corresponded a lot. If an agent has invested serious time in you and your work and you feel it’s the right and professional thing to do, you can grant them an exclusive to consider the latest version of your manuscript. But do limit the exclusive — two weeks to a month is fair — so as not to leave it open-ended. The other scenario is if the agent requested the exclusive and you’ve agreed to grant it.

Agents like exclusives. They let us consider things on our own sweet time. But this is a competitive business. If you have a hot manuscript, it doesn’t behoove you to have just one person sitting on it. Honor agent relationships that you’ve already nurtured and exclusives you’ve already granted, but, beyond that, you can and should submit your queries and writing samples to well-chosen batches of multiple agents. Simultaneous submissions are just a part of the game, and anything else could be unfair to you and waste your time.

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  1. Catherine Johnson’s avatar

    Great post, Mary. I’m definitely guilty of this. I am much more bothered about wasting an agent’s time than my own though.

  2. Ed Varga’s avatar

    thanks for the excellent tips without a trip to Cleveland (was there this past summer – saw the Christmas Story house)

  3. Jackie Yeager’s avatar

    Thanks, Mary. I’m getting ready to submit and it helps to know your thoughts on this. :)

  4. Stella Michel’s avatar

    Thanks for sharing this info. Great tips!

  5. Lorri Cardwell-Casey’s avatar

    Mary ROCKED her presentations in Cleveland! For those authors she represents, know that she fully bragged up your books in the best possible way. As one of the lucky ones who attended her sessions and heard her presentations, thanks so much for all your hard work and time, Mary.

  6. Jennifer Rumberger’s avatar

    Thank you so much for this post (and for the link to Chuck’s). I still struggle with this issue, so it was nice to see your thoughts.

  7. Laura Marcella’s avatar

    I’m not anywhere near querying, but it’s good to keep these tips in the back of my mind to pull forward later. :) Thanks for the link to the article!

  8. Julie Daines’s avatar

    Very sound advice.

    “If you get no requests at all, there’s something wrong with your query or your writing sample. If you get no good feedback or full requests after sending out writing samples or partials, your work isn’t quite there yet.”

    I know writers who, after 50+ rejections, can’t understand what’s wrong with all the agents out there. I say, “Dude, it’s probably your manuscript!”

  9. Tracysoda’s avatar

    Hi Mary! I really enjoyed meeting you and hearing from you at the conference. You are seriously an encyclopedia of knowledge- a Mary-pedia. I just sat and absorbed :)

    This post is so perfect for today and just confirms what I need to do- Chuck’s post was good too. I’ve been getting a really good response to my query and first few chapters from reputable agencies (and even an editor) but then after a full submission………… nice rejection, an open door, but no call.

    So now I know what I have to do. And I’m really glad I’ve only queried 4 people. I also suggest taking the time in between submissions to let the manuscript sit and simmer. DON’T look at it. After letting it sit I’ve caught things I can’t believe I missed before.

    Thanks again, Mary and I hope you had a great time in the Cleveland!

  10. Karen Fabre’s avatar

    Thanks for the advise. If you and Chuck give it, it must be sound. I enjoyed your luncheon address and breakout session at the conference this weekend. I will be submitting to you (as well as others of course.)

  11. Anya Monroe’s avatar

    Good advice. I think it is hard for me to know how long to wait before sending out a second batch of queries. If agents are getting 1,000+ a month it seems like it will just take forever to hear back. That is a lot to sift through. But submitting to more the 7-8 at a time a seems like a lot to keep track of.

  12. Michelle Teacress’s avatar

    When I heard Chuck speak on the same topic in Jackson Hole, WY last summer, I was so greatful to hear it (and so many other helpful tips) from a legitimate source. I’m surely going to follow this great advice.

    Have a great week.

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