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I submitted several choral scores to a publishing company for consideration. They were initially very interested in seeing them, but since I've sent them ... big surprise, I haven't heard anything. I have been patient and have written them only twice in the more than a year since I've submitted the music to them.

This publisher is one with which I would like to work, or at the very least, not offend. They are connected to a major choral ensemble and burning bridges wouldn't be prudent. That said, I can only wait so long before moving on to another publisher.

Here are my questions...

  1. Is it against any established etiquette or convention to submit a score to multiple publishers at once?
  2. If it is, how long is reasonable to wait before assuming that they simply aren't interested?

Finally,

  1. Should I tell them that I am submitting the scores to another publisher?
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    I would start with option 4.: write to the publisher and ask their guidelines. "Dear ..., I submitted my score on DAY MONTH YEAR, but so far have not received a reply regarding whether you would like to publish it. Since it has been more than a year, I would like to approach other publishers. Please advise as to your policy in this regard." Something along those lines.
    – Aaron
    May 25 at 3:08
  • Alternatively: "Please let me know whether my score is still under consideration." If they say "yes", then you can inquire about when you might expect a decision. If "no", then you're free to submit elsewhere.
    – Aaron
    May 25 at 3:10

2 Answers 2

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Submit to as many as you like, all in one mailing round.

Wait a month or so, to see if you get any replies. Don't nag. No-one will appreciate being chased.

Compare offers - or start over with new material.

I'm surprised they haven't said anything at all after first displaying interest*, but you never will know what's happened in the intervening period. The person with the main interest may have moved on. Policy on new material may have changed.
If you've written twice more & still heard nothing, just move on. Don't nag them, they've already as much as said they don't care.

*There's a caveat on this - you said they displayed interest in seeing the work… that's different from displaying interest in it once they'd seen it. I'm still surprised they didn't bother even with a standard 'thanks but no thanks' letter of some sort.

Above all, don't be discouraged. I have a friend who waited 20 years to get his first choral work published. Most bizarrely, when it finally was, it became part of a two composer release… with another friend of mine, who'd been at the premier of that piece 20 years earlier.
Life's like that.

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I'm answering my own question to supplement Tetsukin's excellent answer. A few hours spent viewing the submission guidelines for several publishers of choral music taught me that...

  1. Most publishers have very specific guidelines on their submission process, and
  2. Some publishers include in these guidelines a request to be the only publisher reviewing a piece.

So, the answer is that there's no reason not to submit to multiple publishers unless they request you not to ... so far all of these publishers give an estimate of their review time, so that you'll know that if you haven't heard from ABC Music Press after their 5 months (even though they want to be the only publisher reviewing your work), you can submit to others then.

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  • They request to be the only reviewer to give them a chance to be the only one in the line if they really want you. That's an instruction you really ought to ignore. Bidding wars make for good business sense. There is absolutely no reason [or compulsion] to follow that instruction.
    – Tetsujin
    May 27 at 7:45

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