Publishers don’t like simultaneous submissions from an author. ‘Simultaneous submissions’ sounds like a dysfunctional relationship; to publishers, it is. To them it’s like dating more than one person.

For an author, simultaneous submissions save time. A publisher might take from two weeks to six months to get around to your book proposal, and by the time three or four publishers have rejected it, you could have wasted six months to over a year. If your material is non-fiction (as my two are) this waiting seems more intolerable than for fiction writers. Knowledge in the subject may not have progressed much further but it’s the fact there’s no ‘up-to-date’ material in the book.

But look at the situation from the publishers’ perspective. There are about 50,000 new books published each year, which is 1% of manuscripts submitted to publishers. That’s a lot of material the publishers have to wade through. It’s not like the publishing trade is particularly remunerative. About 80% of the cost of producing a book is the printing. The author only gets about 7-15% of the profit (an average of $3 for a $30 book). So publishers have to use their time economically and discouraging simultaneous submissions is an effective way to do this. It would save a lot of trees too.

This is from a writer who began submitting his first book in the middle of 2005! I’ve been through four publishers and sent my work to a literary assessment service, on whose reply I’m waiting. Note, though, that the third publisher chose to publish my work. Unfortunately, unforeseen circumstances resulted in the company going on indefinite moratorium. So my search began again. Aaargh!

Now I’m going to try one more lot of publishers and I’m also going to find a reputable literary agent. There’s no point in going to publishers one at a time when an agent has contact with many of them. Yes, they do take a cut of the profits – about 10-15% I think. (Yes, and the actual author may only get 7%!) However, this means it’s in the agent’s interest to get as many books sold as possible, so maybe it works out. I’ll let you know. If you care. If not, go and read Blandwagon’s latest post.