I was at the Northern Ohio SCBWI conference in Cleveland, and I got several questions about simultaneous submissions (sometimes called a duplicate submission or a multiple submission). 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!
Defining Simultaneous Submissions
When you want to send a duplicate submission, meaning the same submission to more than one literary agent at a time, that means you’re sending simultaneous submissions or multiple submissions. (This does not mean querying multiple projects at a time.)
Chuck’s points are all valid. He encourages writers to submit to batches of 6-8 agents at a time. I would even say 10-12 is a good number. 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.
When a Duplicate Submission Isn’t Appropriate
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. You can’t fairly do simultaneous submissions in this case because you agreed to honor an agreement.
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 duplicate submission 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.
Hire me as your query letter editor before you go out on submission and boost your chances with feedback from a former literary agent!