The competition to get a short story, essay, or poem accepted and published in a literary journal can be intense. Some literary magazine editors receive over 10,000 submissions during a single reading period! Against these odds, a writer should be over the moon when getting an acceptance. But at Writer’s Relief, our expert targeting sometimes results in a client getting more than one acceptance for the same piece! Writers need to tread gently when dealing with a double acceptance—you don’t want to inadvertently offend an editor. For any writer lucky enough to be in this enviable situation, here’s how to handle a double acceptance from editors.
The Best Way To Handle A Double Acceptance
After spending hours researching to determine the right markets for your work—and eliminating the many markets that aren’t—you send out your simultaneous submissions, cross your fingers, and wait. Let’s say, on an especially good day, you receive an acceptance from a literary journal. Hooray! You break into your happy dance and prepare to withdraw any still-open submissions of that work to other literary journals. But while you’re busy dancing, running in circles, and waving your acceptance letter out the window at passersby—another acceptance comes in! You just received a double acceptance! Lift your jaw off the floor, then do this:
Offer reprint rights to the second journal. Reprint rights allow the editor to publish your work as usual. The only difference is that the second journal will need to credit the journal that originally published your piece. Many journals do not have a problem with this. However, the majority of editors prefer first rights. If this is the case, proceed to step two!
Offer the second journal another work. Some literary journals do not accept reprint rights, and that’s fine! Reach out to the editor and offer a new piece that you have not submitted anywhere else. This gives the second editor first dibs on your replacement submission.
When drafting your email reply, be sure to mention you would love to have your writing appear in the journal, and you are thrilled the editor wants to publish your writing! Specify that the new piece you are sending is one you have not submitted anywhere else.
Keep offering alternatives, if necessary! If the second editor doesn’t feel your new, exclusive submission is a good fit for the journal, don’t be discouraged! Offer another new piece, and even another if needed. It may take a few tries to find a replacement the editor wants to accept.
Bonus tip from our submission strategy experts: The alternative new work you suggest should be similar in style, theme, and length to the original piece.
Use an ounce of prevention. Once you’ve received a secondary acceptance from a literary magazine, you shouldn’t make any more simultaneous submissions to that journal. You don’t want to annoy the editor by repeatedly submitting work and then rejecting acceptances. Doing this could negatively affect your reputation as a writer, and some journals may even ban you from submitting again.
If you want to submit work to a journal where you’ve previously had to reject an acceptance, send a new work to that journal first and wait for a response. If your submission is rejected, you can then send the work out to other literary magazines as a simultaneous submission.
And remember, it’s publishing industry etiquette to always withdraw your submission from other literary journals as soon as you receive the first acceptance—and this will reduce the odds of having to deal with a double (or even—gasp!—triple) acceptance.
One final bit of advice…
Instead of spending all of your writing time trying to find the best places to send your work, let the submission strategy experts at Writer’s Relief do all the research for you! We can help boost your odds of getting more acceptances—you may even wear out your happy dance shoes! Submit your writing samples to our Review Board today.
Question: If you received a double acceptance, how did you work it out with the editors?