ONLINE COLUMN: Writing for Children
Published: April 1, 2009
|Which is better, an exclusive submission or a simultaneous submission? |
If publishers welcome simultaneous submissions, take them up on their offer. Otherwise you'll get nowhere fast. The standard policy of most publishers is three months before they respond. Some publishers take longer. That's a long time to wait if you're sending in exclusive submissions. Just be sure to state in your query or cover letter that it is a simultaneous submission.
Don't submit blindly, however. Target your manuscript well. Make informed choices about where you submit your manuscript. Study potential publishers' Web sites and submission guidelines. Make sure your manuscript fits into their product line before you submit it. Prepare each submission to fit each of their specific guidelines.
If you're on a limited budget, learn to send queries, not proposals or full manuscripts. For the price of two stamps (one outside the envelope and one inside on your self-addressed, stamped envelope, or SASE) you can query at least 10 publishers for under $10. If e-mail queries are accepted, you can, of course, send a whole bunch more than that for free.
Develop a long-term game plan for submitting your manuscript to publishers or agents. Use a spreadsheet to create a Manuscript Submission Chart. On the top, list the title of your particular manuscript. Make columns for information such as the acquisition editor's name, Web site URL, print run, e-mail submissions accepted, payment, and rights offered. Then spend a week or two reading through various market guides to find potential publishers who might be interested in your manuscript. On your chart, list any pertinent information about each potential publisher or agent.
After you've exhausted your market guides, visit each potential publisher's Web site and enter notes in your Manuscript Submission Chart about new information you find.
Now look over your chart. Divide your publishers or agents into batches of five or 10 houses. Each batch should be in order of which publishers' product line fits your manuscript the best. Lump the ones that require exclusive submissions in a batch at the bottom of the list. First send simultaneous submissions to the batch of five or 10 that fit your manuscript the best. On your chart, write the date you submitted your first batch.
Start working immediately on your next manuscript. In the meantime, wait to hear back from this batch of publishers. (Or, as with some publishers these days, if you don't hear back within three months, it means they passed on your submission.)
After three months, send in a simultaneous submission to the next batch of publishers and agents on your chart. Continue in this manner until you've submitted your manuscript to all the publishers and agents on your chart who accept simultaneous submissions. At that point, if you want to submit to those who require exclusive submissions, go ahead. By then, you'll have explored the market sufficiently with simultaneous submissions to take the time with exclusive submissions.
Another interesting factor is whether your manuscript is represented by an agent. If so, the agent might discover that several publishers have expressed interest in your manuscript. At that point, your agent might suggest taking your book to auction. This puts a whole new twist on the concept of simultaneous submissions. Publishing houses bid on your book and the one with the highest bid wins!
--Posted April 1, 2009
Nancy I. Sanders is the author of over 75 books, including Readers Theatre for African American History (Libraries Unlimited). Visit her Web site at www.nancyisanders.com to learn more.