If you’ve checked the website of a literary agent or publishing house lately, you may have noticed that most of them make a point to warn prospective authors to expect an exceedingly lengthy response time. They never say exactly how long, but if you have recently sent off your manuscript, be prepared for endless hours of sitting in front of the computer, a jar of half empty peanut butter sitting next to your buck naked body because you can’t bear to be away from your inbox for the two minutes it might take to dress and feed yourself.
But maybe that’s just me.
Okay, so even if you don’t get quite so ‘caught up’ in the process as I have on one or two occasions, I’m sure you’ll find that waiting for responses from publishers and literary agents sucks. And just to make the whole process feels even longer, bleaker and entirely hopeless, most of said organizations demand exclusive submission rights. That means you can only send it to one of them at a time. That means that in an entire year, you manuscript may only actually make it to the desk of one reviewer. And that’s if you’re lucky.
So what’s a writer to do if they want to see their work out in the world before say, humanity depletes its oil resources?
According to an author friend of mine, the whole multiple submission game is just that—a game. Again, according to her, the smart writer will send their stuff to as many places as they can. And though I’m not official professing to having committed so heinous a crime, I can see her point.
It’s hard to be a writer—there are so many of us and so few of them—a fact which the publishing industry is constantly reminding us of. You gotta do what’s right for you.
Of course, you should be as cordial and respectful as you can—if you are lucky enough to have your work accepted, be sure to inform the other interested parties right away. As well, submitting your work to multiple parties at the same time doesn’t mean the wait time will be any shorter from any one of them, but at least you can get it all over at the same time.
Which may save you a lot of peanut butter in the long run.