Exclusive submissions vs. simultaneous

Just a little reminder of my personal editorial policy and Lee & Low’s company guidelines when it comes to submissions:

I am a bit slow in processing submissions. Sorry, I just have a lot on my plate that I’m juggling. I’m working on catching up on a LOT of submissions, and will be getting back to several authors soon with editorial letters to further the process, and to others with requests for more.

However, Lee & Low’s policy is to not respond to submissions for which the answer is no.

It’s a tough market out there and I can understand the frustration with policies like this from the point of view of a writer, but it is what it is. There’s only so much time in the day and we’re already kind of swamped.

So combine those two things, and I can understand why a writer might get a little testy if they haven’t heard from me after submitting their book to Tu. This is why my personal (not company) editorial policy is that for initial submissions, I don’t require exclusive submissions. I understand how long the process can be and if each writer has to wait months for each editor or agent to respond, it might take years to get through the process.

Well… it does take years anyway for some writers, and that’s just how it is, but to ease the pain, you are welcome to submit your work to other publishers or agents at the same time (who also are open to simultaneous submissions—you’ll want to watch out for those who require exclusives so as not to send it to an exclusive and a simultaneous at once; these days most writers just note in their cover letters that their submission is a simultaneous submission). But nowadays most people understand that you simply can’t wait months and months to hear back from an editor.

So that should resolve the need for anyone to tell me in their cover letter that they’re “giving” me an exclusive. It’s okay. You don’t have to. Really. It won’t hurry me up any—when I have copyedits to go over or printer proofs in to approve or whatever that is happening with books that are already in the pipeline, I’m afraid those books will usually if not always take precedence over submissions.

Here’s the reason for the need for this policy: other than an intern to be the first pair of eyes on submissions, I am the only person reading submissions for Tu Books at this time. That means I’m the only one editing all the books, the only one working with the designers and production on books about to go to press, the only one going through copyedits when we get them back from the copyeditor, the only one negotiating contracts, and pretty much anything to do with Tu Books on the editorial side of things other than people who come in for short parts of the process like acquisition committee members, copyeditors, and proofreaders (we of course have marketing and sales staff working on those things). So once the intern screens the obviously-not-right-for-us submissions (picture books, realistic books, adult books, main characters who aren’t POC, etc.), she gives me a reader’s report on the books she liked. But I still have to go through that pile of not-completely-wrong-for-us submissions and decide which to pursue, while also doing all the things an editor does in a day. And when I do have the time, I’ll usually spend that time working to further develop manuscripts that already looked promising from my last foray into the submission pile, reading full manuscripts and getting feedback to the authors and/or their agents, getting the manuscripts that are ready out to the acquisitions committee—and I’m backed up on that right now as well (catching up now!).

So I just wanted to gently remind writers that they are welcome to continue to submit widely at the initial stage, which for me is the “partial” stage because I hate queries (some editors who are open to unagented submissions ask for queries; my personal feeling is that I’d rather just see the writing and a synopsis).

2 thoughts on “Exclusive submissions vs. simultaneous

  1. Thank you Stacy, for letting us know how it works at Tu. My record for hearing back from an editor (a rejection letter) was four years. By the time I heard from them I had already signed a contract elsewhere and was well on my way to publishing that book. Since I hadn’t heard from them, I had assumed they had a policy similar to yours, but I was wrong. I got a real good laugh out of it.

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