Multi-Sub Publishers: Skip or Submit?

Occasionally, you will run into literary or genre markets that accept multiple submissions, where you can submit two, three, or more stories at the same time. These markets are pretty rare in my experience, much rarer than markets that accept simultaneous submissions. In general, they also tend to publish shorter works, either flash fiction or poetry, but there are a few that will take full-length short stories at two or three at a time.

So, providing you have enough stories sitting around, should you send multiple submissions if a market accepts them? I say yes, and here are two reasons why.

  1. Shotgun analytics. If there’s a better way to get an idea of the kind of story a market is looking for (without reading every issue of their magazine), I don’t know what it is. For example, I recently submitted three flash stories to market that accepts multi-subs, and each one was markedly different in tone and content. Now, even all three get rejected, I feel like I’ll have a fairly good idea what they’re NOT looking for, and that will allow me to dial in my submissions next time. Update: I wrote this post a few days ago, and since then I’ve received two rejections from the market I mentioned earlier. I received one standard form rejection and one higher-tier form rejection with an invite to submit more work. That info at least points me in the general direction of what the editors might be looking for.
  2. Better odds. Sure, it’s possible that you send three stories that the editors hate, but I think you have a better chance at an acceptance or at least some solid feedback with multiple submissions. This kind of plays into my first point. If you send stories that are all fairly different, I think you stand a better chance at getting an editor’s attention with one of them, and, at the very least, getting some useful feedback.

Now, there are potential downsides to multiple submissions too. If you’re gonna send multiple submissions, you should be prepared for multiple rejections, maybe all in the same day. That can be a blow to the ol’ ego if they’re all form letters. Also, multi-sub publishers may not accept sim-subs, and if the publisher is particularly slow to respond, you could have two or more stories tied up for a while. Both are factors you should consider before hitting send.

Here are two good markets that accept multi-subs. I’ve sent submissions to both.

  • Flash Fiction Online: This market accepts everything: genre, literary, you name it. Like their name suggests, they only accept flash fiction between 500-1000 words. You cans send up to three stories at a time, and they accept reprints too. So you can mix you submissions between original fiction and reprint. They pay pro rates for originals (0.6/word) and less for reprints (.02/word).
  • Kaleidotrope: This is a semi-pro spec-fic market that accepts up to three short stories at a time. They’re a bit different in that they’ll accept stories up to 10,000 words.

What are your thoughts on multi-subs? Know of any good markets that accept them? Tell me all about it in the comments.

3 Comments on “Multi-Sub Publishers: Skip or Submit?

  1. Many publications will accept multiple submissions, even if they don’t explicitly say so in their guidelines, as long as the submissions don’t all arrive at the same time. Unless the guidelines suggest otherwise, or the the editor explicitly says otherwise, I submit (providing I have the material) approximately as often as the publication publishes. That is, a story each month to a monthly, every other month to a bi-monthly, every three months to a quarterly, etc.

    So, a monthly publication that takes three months to respond might have three of my stories in its slush pile. A monthly that takes a year to respond might have 12. Sometimes this works out to my benefit. On several occasions I’ve had two or three stories published in the same issue of a magazine.* If I were to wait for a response to one submission before sending another, this would likely never happen.

    At the moment, there are only four publications I target in this manner: Two monthlies that purchase nearly everything I submit, a bi-monthly that purchased two stories within the past year, and another bi-monthly that published a story a few years ago and keeps sending really nice rejection letters. (Over the years I have done this with several publications that have since ceased publication or changed editorial requirements.)

    The only other publication I have attempted this with recently hasn’t accepted anything ever and I gave up trying. The stories they publish are so specific that there are few (if any) markets for their rejects unless the stories are substantially revised/rewritten.

    *Thank you, pseudonyms! The editors who do this know I’m the author of all the stories. The readers don’t.

    • Michael, thanks for the comment. I’ve never thought about submitting that way, but it makes sense, especially once you have enough info on a market to predict how they operate.

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