Submit Early, Submit Often by Walter Rhein
Let’s face it, it’s always a buyer’s market in the writing world. As authors, we are constantly on the lookout for new publishing opportunities, but the markets we approach rarely reserve much courtesy for writers. Some publishers act like once you send them a manuscript it should be theirs until they deign to send you a rejection. That’s fine for the responsible ones that get back to you in a week or two, but for the guys who don’t acknowledge a query for six months to a year, it makes the potential of ever getting published almost impossible. To be fair, there are some publishers out there that encourage you to send out your work early and often, but those are the exception rather than the rule.
There really is no issue with sending out a manuscript to multiple publishers, provided you withdraw the manuscript if it gets accepted elsewhere. Any publisher that becomes irritated with you for using this tactic is not likely a publisher that you want to work with anyway. The only exception to this rule would be if you were somehow guaranteed a serious look from an agent of one of the major publishers. In that case, you should extend the major publisher every courtesy since a contract with one of them is sure to be life-changing.
For the last year or so I’ve been in the process of finding a home for my novel ‘Paperclip’ which I co-wrote with an author friend of mine named Dan Woll. I had mainly been using Submittable to look for potential markets, but I had also sent out queries directly to small presses. Submittable is a nice tool because it allows you to access all of your submissions, and even has a convenient button for withdrawing them should you place a work.
I received a manuscript request from Burning Bulb Publishing and was happy to send the book along. Full requests after a query are nice, even though they don’t guarantee the work will be accepted. It is very hard to get an agent, editor, or publisher to actually evaluate your work. Most rejections happen in the query phase if they even get that far. However, no rejection letter ever says, “I’m rejecting this even though I didn’t read a single word of your manuscript.” No, that would be admitting that the literary entity didn’t do their due diligence. Instead, they say things like, “It’s not right for us, but best of luck to you,” which implies that they actually read the work without actually saying so.
‘Paperclip’ was picked up by Burning Bulb, so I found myself in the very satisfying position of being able to withdraw submissions. It felt very good to go through the list on Submittable and click the “withdraw from consideration” button. For “reason” I put, “the novel has been accepted for publication elsewhere.”
The next day I received an email from one of the other publishers I’d submitted to. The message was one of the best I’d ever received in all the years I’ve spent writing. The publisher stated that my manuscript stood out and that they were seriously considering it, and that they were sorry they hadn’t gotten back to me sooner.
Imagine, they had apologized to me! They even offered to help promote the work when it was released.
It’s hard to make an impression with a publisher since we are always begging to be noticed. But being in the position where you send in a manuscript and then withdraw it does grab attention. Based on my interactions with the submission process for ‘Paperclip,’ the opportunity to withdraw a manuscript can be a very positive one. I’ll be submitting again to the publisher that sent me the kind email, hopefully, they’ll remember me.
Burning Bulb has agreed to release ‘Paperclip’ for only 99 cents for a limited time. Please grab a copy and leave a review. I’ll be posting updates as to how the novel performs over at my web page StreetsOfLima.com. Thanks, everyone! Happy holidays and good luck with your writing! Submit early and submit often, it will all turn out fine.
Written by Walter Rhein