It’s the most difficult part of the getting-a-book-out-there process. One of the worst aspects of the search is the fact that publishers don’t like simultaneous submissions: when the writer sends their book proposal to several publishers at once. However, simultaneous submissions save the writer time, especially when publishers may take up to six months to get back to you – if they do at all. And the procedure isn’t unethical as such; it’s just that publishers don’t like it. So if you do, you should tell them – and they’ll likely put your proposal at the bottom of the pile.

But why don’t publishers like writers making simultaneous submissions? It’s because the more well-known publishers get perhaps two dozen proposals a week (so I estimate: 50,000 books published a year, only 1% of all manuscripts; and about 5,000 publishers), and if they agree to publish you, but you’ve already found a publisher, they’re irritated because they’ve wasted time on your manuscript. Time is money as they say.

So that’s tough on the writer, isn’t it? Oh the inequity. But if we’re trying to get our first book published, we have almost no chance anyway. Even if you can write well and you have a timely and interesting topic, most publishers – especially the larger, established ones – won’t touch you if they don’t think your book will sell. In one respect, that’s fair enough: they are running a business; nevertheless, it can be immensely aggravating.

So why not simultaneously submit your book proposal, especially if you’re a first-time writer? It depends on what you plan to do with your future: if you want to write and publish again, it doesn’t help if publishers have marked you down as someone who doesn’t play the game.

So courage, a drop of port and send out another proposal. Oh yes, and a little research.

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