Exclusive Submissions or Simultaneous Submission?

Whether you’re submitting to agents or editors, you’ll need to understand what the difference is between exclusive and simultaneous submissions.

  • Exclusive – Once you send your work to the agent or editor, you do not send it to anyone else. You wait until you hear back or until the exclusive expires.
  • Simultaneous – You may send your work to more than one editor or agent at the same time. This is not the same as multiple submissions (though a lot of people misuse this word).
  • Multiple Submissions – Sending in more than one work at one time to one place (like cramming in several picture book manuscripts in a submission envelope to an agent). This has nothing to do with this discussion.

What Exclusives Does For an Editor

  • Assures the editor that they are the only one looking at your work. What it does for you: nothing.

What Exclusives Does For an Agent

  • Assures the agent that they are the only one looking at your work. What it does for you: nothing.

So why should you ever submit something exclusively?

  1. You want to get published by that company and their guidelines require it.
  2. You want to extend a courtesy to the editor or agent because he or she personally asked for exclusivity. (BTW, if the manuscript is already out to other people, and an agent or editor asks for an exclusive, kindly let them know you can’t grant them one for this very reason. You’ll be amazed how many agents or editors will still consider your work. Just don’t do the silly thing, which is withdraw your manuscript from all the other people, just so you can grant this one person an exclusive. SO NOT WORTH IT.)
  3. The editor or agent has already taken the time to look at your manuscript, given you notes you subsequently revised, and now you’re sending it back to her for review.

Here’s The C LIU Rule of Thumb on Exclusives:

  • Granting exclusives for reasons 1-3 is the smart way to use exclusives.
  • In all other cases, DO NOT grant exclusives simply because you feel like it. Often the agent or editor won’t care one way or another, and all you’ve done forces yourself to wait around for an answer. Many editors and agents understand how bad exclusives can be for writers so don’t feel guilty or anything if you mark your submission as simultaneous.
  • If you do grant an exclusive for reasons 1-3, set a date for the exclusive to expire. This way you won’t have to status check and wait more to get a reply on your exclusive. Please save everybody some time and energy dealing with your submission. For an agent, this date should be somewhere around a month maximum. For an editor, two months. But the shorter the better. Again, you’re going to hear different answers to this one, but this is the C Liu opinion.

Now read my post, How To Submit Your Work To Editors or Agents.

6 thoughts on “Exclusive Submissions or Simultaneous Submission?

  1. Hello, hum, Cynthea?
    Only wondering: if exclusiveness is unsolicited, but they ask for two chapters, synopsis and query letter, and also ask for a self stamped envelope; should I make it exclusive any way?

    Looking forwards to an answer:
    Gabriel Toledo Rojas

  2. Hi Cynthea,
    Your website is very informative.
    I have developed a 5 part series set of picture books developed for easy readers aged from 2-5 years.
    My question is whether I should submit more than one story with my cover letter to the publishers? each story is approximately 200 words long.


  3. Why in the world would an Easy Reader be targeted for 2-5 year olds? Would agree with 5-7 year olds but unless the 2 year old is reading already and has the extreme patience to sit down and read 2500 words, then you’re wasting your time and also showing an editor that you don’t know your market.

  4. I think we have a mixup in terminology. Manuscripts that are easy to read of this length usually come in the form of a board book for the 2-3 year olds, or a picture book for the 4-5 year olds. It’s not a perfect science when we talk about ages. There are some “emergent readers” that are of this length (200 words) and would fall under the category of books that fall in the “early/easy reader format.” Confusing enough yet? 🙂

    Regardless, what matters most is to submit one story at a time (industry standard) and understand what term you will use to describe it based on where you see it fitting in the overall marketplace. It is a board book? Is it a picture book? Is it an emergent reader? Or Is it a Level 1 Easy Reader for the publisher’s “X” series? You see? Figure out what it is and make sure you describe it accordingly so your submission is well-targeted and described in the same manner most industry professionals would view it.

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