Why Writers Should Stick With Simultaneous Submissions

Why Writers Should Stick With Simultaneous Submissions
Credit: Charles Schultz

As many of my blog followers know, I recently finished my full-length play. For the past few months, I have submitted my play to several playhouses in hopes for a reading or even a full production.

Fingers crossed.

The first open call that I submitted my play to was back in early May. This open call didn’t state a deadline as to when it would notify playwrights.

I waited. And waited. And waited.

So when July rolled around, I decided to give the playhouse a call. Here’s my conversation, starring me and the playhouse’s receptionist (PR):

Me: Hi, I submitted my play to your full-length play open call back in May. Do you know when the winning play will be announced?

PR: Are you referencing the ten-minute play contest?

Me: No, I did not enter this month’s ten-minute play contest. Back in April, you posted a full-length play open call for a production to be produced in October with a deadline of May 1st. Do you know when the winning play for this open call will be announced?

PR: Huh…can you hold?

[Five minutes later]

PR (hurriedly): The committee’s still deciding and they’ll make an announcement when they come to a decision.

Me: When will they come to a decision?

PR: The committee’s still deciding and…

Me: I’ll call back next month. Thank you.

Why did I really call? When I searched their website, I found that all references to this open call were removed from every page. It was as if the open call never existed.

So when my phone conversation resulted with the generic “they’re still deciding” speech, the truth was confirmed. The open call was cancelled.

This is why I submit to multiple playhouses, to multiple contests, to multiple publications. Because if I put all my eggs in this one broken basket, I should only expect raw scrambled eggs.

Broken basket, or why writers should stick to simultaneous submissions
You should see the eggs…
Credit: flickrhivemind.net

And I want a produced play, thank you very much.

But it’s common for playhouses, publications, magazines—anything that publishes other writers’ words—to ask this. It’s often a submission requirement that the writer cannot submit their manuscript to other publishing venues until the publisher decides whether or not they want to publish the writer’s work.

This is utter nonsense.

They are basically saying that they have first publishing rights before they even decide whether or not to publish your work.

This angry cow wants writers to stick to simultaneous submissions
“Don’t you DARE touch my utters.”

No matter how prestigious the publication, nothing can claim this authority over your work, especially if they haven’t committed to you.

That’s like your beau telling you on your first date that you can’t date anyone else until he or she decides if you’re worth the serious commitment.

Of course it’s tempting to abide by this silly practice. Their grand status and large audience reach puts stars in your eyes. But all you’re wearing are rose-tinted glasses.

Punctuation always answers why writers should stick to simultaneous submissions
Dating humor for writers
Credit: mermaidtavern.net

Yes, I can see it from the publisher’s standpoint. They put in all this time and effort to read your work that they don’t want to end up hearing no from you.

But what about you? You put in all this time and effort to write and edit and rewrite and edit and rewrite and stress and second-guess and submit your work—just to receive a generic rejection slip from a publisher that took almost a year to evaluate your work?

The solution is simple. Submit your work to publications or playhouses that allow simultaneous submissions.

Don’t get rebellious. A publication that states they don’t allow simultaneous submissions means it. So don’t submit there unless you want to bind yourself to the them-and-only-them clause.

As for me, I will continue submitting my play and waiting for a response. But at least I’m submitting to more than one venue.

What are your thoughts on simultaneous submissions? Share your opinions below.

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