Simultaneous Submissions and Duplicate Submission to Literary Agents

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!

simultaneous submissions, duplicate submission, slush pile, query letter, literary agent
Pack ’em up and ship ’em out … today we’re talking about simultaneous submissions!

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!

12 Replies to “Simultaneous Submissions and Duplicate Submission to Literary Agents”

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

  3. Jackie Yeager says:

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

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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!”

  8. 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!

  9. Karen Fabre says:

    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.)

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Copyright © Mary Kole at Kidlit.com