Ever wonder how agents decide who to submit a project to and how we keep track of all those editors? The very not glamorous answer is spreadsheets, networking, and Publishers Marketplace. Publishers Marketplace (PM) can help keep track of agents for querying authors as well. If you are willing to throw money at a membership, even if for only a month, you can learn a lot from PM.
I keep crazy long spreadsheets of editors arranged by house and imprint. I have one for YA editors and a separate one for editors accepting adult books. When I say long I mean my spreadsheets can go up to hundreds of rows long. PM’s newsletter announces when editors move, leave, or new editors get promoted. New imprints or closing imprints also get announced. My spreadsheet helps me keep track of what genres editors accept, where they are, if they recently moved, and what past titles they’ve bought that are similar to the type of books I either represent or want to represent. If I or a coworker talked to the editor recently, I make notes of what they said they are looking for. Editors move around a lot and my spreadsheet makes sure I keep track of those moves and possibly changes in their acquisitions focus with their moves.
PM has a deals page that’s great for seeing what editors have bought recently and how active they’ve been. For querying authors this page also let’s you see how many and what types of projects agents are selling. Of course not every sale gets listed, but many do. Deals listings go back quite a ways so I can look at several years of deals for any given editor, depending on how long the editor has been around. Member pages can also give us the contact info on editors and which imprints the editor works for since sometimes they acquire for several imprints.
Outside of PM, keeping submission lists with notes on editor responses helps target future submissions. That helps me target what they liked, didn’t like, and what kind of projects could be a fit for specific editors in the future. Basically creating a submission list boils down to research and knowing the market. PM is one of the best tools for keeping up to date on the market and industry news.