Bucks County Writers Workshop

Bucks County Writers Workshop

On Getting Published

by Jeanette de Richemond

Simultaneous Submissions

When I was an apprentice writer, the rule on simultaneous submissions was "Never." Sequential submissions were the rule, which meant waiting for your rejection letter before sending the work out into the world again. Submitting a piece to more than one editor at a time was considered unethical. There was no question about it. Multiple submissions were a fast way to ruin your reputation, not a fast way to get published.

Times have changed. And our sense of time has changed. In other words, no one has time to wait. Or, I should say no "writer." The market is so competitive that journals never have worry about receiving material. Their slush piles (face it, that's where you and I will end up) are miles high As a result, literary journals take their time in sending a form letter rejecting your work or a handwritten note offering suggestions or even acceptance, with more formal correspondence to follow. These journals may take six to eight months to respond and as long as a year. Some editors of literary magazines do realize that writers have to send out simultaneous submissions if they're ever going to see their work published.

When it comes to multiple submissions in today's market, the rule is "know your editor." So start by reading several issues of the journal or magazine to become familiar with the type of material they publish. Why risk the pain of rejection and the consequent re-examination of the worth of your work just because you didn't do your homework?

Next, study the writers' or authors' guidelines for submission to a publication. Let's see what the Paris Review, an international literary quarterly says, "Simultaneous submissions are also acceptable, so long as we are notified immediately if the manuscript is accepted for publication elsewhere." On the other hand, at The Hudson Review, "We do not consider simultaneous submissions, and we do not accept electronic submissions." The Hudson Review, however, does commit to a review schedule. Unsolicited manuscripts are read according to the following schedule: Poetry: April 1 through June 30; Fiction: September 1 through November 30; Nonfiction: January 1 through March 31.

According to writers, simultaneous submissions usually have no impact on the screening process. "This certainly doesn't give them the idea that there's competition so they should screen faster," says one science fiction writer. If anything, informing an editor that you have submitted to other publications may create the impression that you're not dying to publish with them, but are rather just looking to publish. This is probably true, but editors don't like to think so. A caveat: The world of literary journals and magazines is quite different from that of glossy mass-market magazines that you can pick up at a newsstand. Let's save that topic for a later column.

A WRITER'S Interview with a Writer

Q. "Do you send out multiple submissions of your work?"

A. It is technically not OK to send multiple submissions even in fiction, unless a magazine stipulates that they welcome them. And I would never send out multiple submissions to the bigger and more lucrative fiction markets like the New Yorker or the Atlantic Monthly. If you happened to be so very lucky as to have two of these magazines interested in your work at the same time, you'd be in terrible trouble with the magazine that you had to turn down. But there aren't very many of these publications. On the next level are the hundreds of small literary magazines that publish short fiction and poetry and creative nonfiction. Some pay tiny amounts and most pay in copies. I sympathize with their problem--even the smallest is deluged with manuscripts, but not subscription dollars. They just don't have the staff to deal with manuscripts expeditiously. I've also become more sympathetic to MY problem, which is that I want to get my work published. I'm no longer willing to wait 9 months to get a reply -- or to realize after 9 months that they've probably lost the manuscript anyway [this often happens]. So I send out short stories by the fistful to these small magazines, and I don't tell them that's what I'm doing. So far, this hasn't been a problem. As you may already know, the market for short fiction is very, very tough. -- Kris Olson, Vocation: Science Writer; Avocation: Fiction Writer

Profile of a Literary Journal

One in a series about magazines that publish undiscovered writers

The Hudson Review

"Founded in 1947, The Hudson Review is a quarterly magazine of literature and the arts published in New York City. The magazine serves as a major forum for the work of new writers and for the exploration of new developments in literature and the arts...It has a distinguished record of publishing little-known or undiscovered writers, many of whom have become major literary figures. Each issue contains a wide range of material including: poetry, fiction, essays on literary and cultural topics, book reviews, reports from abroad, and chronicles covering film, theatre, dance, music and art. The Hudson Review is distributed in twenty-five countries." Go to: www.hudsonreview.com

"Northeast Philly Girls" in The Hudson Review

"Northeast Philly girls lived close. Their houses were close, clothes were tight, families crammed together on long city streets. On the corners, they stood in clumps, girls with big hair and tight jeans and fringed leather pocketbooks." Read a work by a local author in this distinguished literary journal.


Elise Juska lives in Philadelphia and teaches at The University of the Arts. She attended Bowdoin College in Maine and the Creative Writing Program at the University of New Hampshire. Her stories have appeared in The Hudson Review, Blackwarrior Review, Salmagundi, and Seattle Review. Ms. Juska's first novel, Deep, is close to publication.

Beginnings Magazine

Beginnings is a print publication strictly for the novice writer This is the magazine in which struggling, talented writers can finally see their work in print. Writing contests with cash prizes also featured. Sample copy: $4. For guidelines, send SASE to Beginnings, P.O. Box 92-P, Shirley, NY 11967. E-mail: jenineb@optonline.net. Website: www.scbeginnings.com.

Bucks County Writers Workshop