Over at the Kenyon Review‘s blog yesterday Editor David Lynn addressed the subject of simultaneous submissions. But curiously, throughout his post Lynn used the term “multiple submissions,” which I’ve typically found refers to the practice of sending more than one submission at a time to the same publication for consideration; the post’s focus is rather the practice of sending the same piece to more than one publication for review at the same time. (In fact, “simultaneous submissions” is how the journal’s own guidelines page describes what appears in the blog post as “multiple submissions.”)
Anyway. In the post, Lynn explains why Kenyon Review does not accept simultaneous submissions. He concludes:
Here’s my take: that there ought to be a fair understanding on both sides of the relationship. If authors want to have their work considered by The Kenyon Review or another magazine that prefers not to receive multiple submissions, then they ought to honor that request. Likewise, the editors of those journals should do everything they can to respond to the submission in a reasonable amount of time. Say three months? If after that period an author has received no word, then a letter or email of inquiry is entirely justified, or even a withdrawal of the submission so that it can be sent to another publication.
And, to his credit, he does express an interest in knowing our thoughts about this.
So here are my thoughts. I love The Kenyon Review. I’m a subscriber. I’ve received a couple of very nice rejection notes from the fiction editor, and I’d love, love, love to have my work included in the journal’s pages one day. Who wouldn’t?
But the trouble is that if every journal asked for three months’ exclusivity just to consider a piece, stories that might need to be seen by 20 (or more–it happens, and it has happened to me more than once) journals before finding a home would be in circulation for five years before receiving an acceptance. (By the way, while most of my KR submissions have received remarkably prompt replies, the journal’s guidelines also note that responses can take “up to four months.”) And as for the idea of withdrawing a piece after three months with no answer so you can try somewhere else, well, that seems like a waste of three months to me
You know what I’m going to say: If all of those 20+ journals one might need to try before netting an acceptance took “up to four months,” it would be well into year seven (closer to year eight) of the submission process before the good news arrived. Add to that the time it takes to write and revise a story so that it’s even ready to be submitted, plus the time it will take for production and publication (especially for print journals) and we’re quite possibly starting to approach the decade mark. For one story.
So while I quite truly possess tremendous admiration for the work KR is doing, I do think that “even” a three-month exclusivity period is too long.
Now I’ll quote again from Lynn’s post: “What do you think? I’m curious to know.”