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In this article, we'll discuss multiple pieces and multiple submissions, the difference between the two, and the (very) few cases when multiple submissions may be sent.
In a different article, we discussed simultaneous submissions and contrasted those with multiple submissions. If you haven't read that, go ahead. We'll wait... All caught up? Great!
What are Multiple Pieces?
For our purposes, "multiple pieces" refers to sending more than one piece in a single submission. For example, if you send a batch of five poems in one submission, then you are sending multiple pieces. For short works (such as poems, flash fiction, and micro essays), multiple pieces may be allowed. However, the longer the work, the more unlikely that multiple pieces will be allowed.
When multiple pieces are allowed, the editors will generally let you know how many pieces may be sent per submission. If they don't specify a maximum number, then we suggest you send a reasonable number (no more than 3-5, depending on length). This is not an invitation for you to send everything you've written since 8th grade.
Here are our statistics for multiple pieces by type* (active publications only, as of April 16, 2018):
||Single Pieces Only
||Multiple Pieces Allowed
|Flash Fiction (<1,000 words)
|Short Story (1k-7.5k words)
|Novelette (7.5k-15k words)
|Novella (15k-40k words)
* We did not include book-length types in this table because they almost never allow multiple pieces (fewer than 1% of publishers allow multiple pieces for book-length submissions).
What are Multiple Submissions?
Multiple submissions are when you have more than one submission pending with a publication. This can happen when you send more that one submission at a time, or if you send a submission and later send another submission before receiving a response on the first.
A "submission" may be a single piece, or it may be a batch of multiple pieces (when permitted, as discussed above).
When are Multiple Submissions allowed?
There are only a few situations where multiple submissions are allowed. Since contests and anthologies typically have short submission periods, sometimes they allow you to send more than one submission without waiting for a response between submissions. (At Duotrope, we refer to these as "multiple entries" to avoid confusion with the unwelcome practice of sending "multiple submissions.") For fee-based contests and anthologies, you will generally need to pay a separate entry fee per submission.
Here are our statistics for current anthologies and contests (as of April 16, 2018):
||Multiple Entries OK
||No Multiple Entries
When are Multiple Submissions not allowed?
For general submissions (non-contest/non-anthology), multiple submissions are almost universally loathed.* We strongly discourage you from sending them. Seriously. Wait until you receive a response before sending another submission to the same publication.
In some cases, editors will request a specific wait time between receiving a response and submitting again, or they may specify the maximum number of submissions you can send within a specific timeframe (still waiting for a response between submissions). Always follow those instructions.
The bottom line is: Annoying the editors will not help your chances of being published. Remember that many publications receive hundreds or thousands of submissions every month. If you spam the editors with too many submissions, they will remember you and not in a good way.
* The only exceptions are that occasionally publications will allow multiple submissions if they're in different categories (such as a poetry submission and a short story submission). Also, some fledgling publications initially accept them, although most change that policy as they become more established.
How can I avoid accidentally sending Multiple Submissions?
Our Publisher Search?and Literary Agent Search?features can automatically hide all publications/agencies where you already have pending submissions, so you can easily avoid accidentally sending multiple submissions. (You can find those options under the "Exclusions" tab of the search criteria. See our Guides?for more information.)
What should I do if I accidentally send Multiple Submissions?
If you do accidentally send multiple submissions, simply send the editor a short, polite note explaining that the submission was sent by mistake and that you are withdrawing it from consideration.