The issue of simultaneous submissions came up quite a bit during our submissions process this year. (Shortlist announces SOON by the way. Hold on to your hats!) In our opinion, simultaneous submissions are a courtesy from journals. We realize, and recognize, the time and energy you’ve put into your stories and we want that hard work to be rewarded whether it’s with our journal or not. However, there are some magazines who don’t allow for simultaneous submissions. Usually, it’s because they don’t want the time their staff has spent with a story to be wasted because of a withdrawal due to acceptance by another journal. Both points of view are valid considering the time the submissions process takes, and the fact of the matter remains that the process of submitting and landing a publication… and then seeing that story published is a very slow one. To me it speaks to the quality of work journals are trying to produce in publishing stories, but it certainly doesn’t make the timeline any less frustrating for writers.
But what’s the point of bringing up the issue if not to take a stance? The Masters Review clearly states that we accept simultaneous submissions as long as we’re informed IMMEDIATELY if the piece is picked up elsewhere. This probably sounds familiar and in our opinion, it’s only fair. Our beef comes from those journals who suggest that it’s okay to keep stories for weeks — even months at a time! — without allowing for simultaneous submissions. We found an incredible number of journals in the speculative fiction and science fiction genre that abide by this policy and in our opinion, it’s just flat wrong. To suggest that a writer wait up to eight months to hear back about a story but ask them not to submit that story elsewhere is ludicrous. And look, we don’t want to start a fight by naming names, but we can’t help but feel that when writers begin ignoring submission guidelines it might be because they don’t feel like their work is being treated fairly within the submissions process. Perhaps if more journals allowed for sim-subs or were able to expedite their submissions process in some way and still retain the quality within that process we might all see an improvement.
What we’re saying is this: writers, do your part and simultaneously submit where allowed and PLEASE let journals know when a story has been accepted elsewhere. The journals who allow for sim-subs allow for them because they want you to be successful. If you’re willing to let a piece sit with a prestigious magazine for months at a time and they ask that you don’t submit elsewhere, respect those rules. Perhaps in the process the submissions wheel will eventually and slowly unclog and response times will improve. Either way, we’re in this together, so try to return the courtesy journals are extending you by keeping track of your submissions.