After I posted on Twitter yesterday that I was working on two submission lists, one of my followers responded wondering what a submission list IS. And, well, I figure if one person is curious enough to ask, there’s probably even more who also have questions, but just didn’t type them out!
So, a primer on submission lists.
After I’ve signed a client and we’ve gone through the revision process on their manuscript to whatever degree is necessary, and the material is just about ready to go out to editors, I start thinking about which editors I want to send it to. Now, to be honest, I often think of some names throughout the previous process and take little notes for myself, but actually putting together the list usually happens when I’m getting ready to start making my calls.
I think about what kind of manuscript we have, and what editors and houses might do a great job with it. I check my notes for conversations I might have had in the past, where an editor asked for a great middle grade novel for boys, or a steampunk YA for girls, etc. I look at past submissions I made — if this editor liked Author A and was outbid, do I think they’ll like Author B’s novel, which has some similar features? I also check what submissions I have that are currently outstanding — if I’m waiting to hear from Editor Q at Publisher X on another project, do I want to send a second manuscript their way, or should I talk to their colleague Editor P instead?
I often also check the list of recent deals on Publishers Marketplace for editors or houses I may not think of myself, or just to see who else has bought titles in genres similar to the book I want to go out with.
So once I have these names, do I just send off the manuscript to everyone? Nope. I may still edit my list down, for various reasons. I may have found five people in the Penguin group who could be great editors for this project, but I’d rather send to one editor at a time in a group. Plus, I don’t like to have several dozen manuscripts go out at the same time — I find it easier to keep track of things if my rounds are 6 to 8 editors at a time. So I’ll decide who gets it on Round #1, and who I would send it to in round #2 if we need to go that far.
What’s up with “6 to 8”? Well, I find that number usually hits most of the big houses — Random House, Penguin, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan — and leaves me room to try some of my other favorite houses as well.
So now, with my revised list in hand, I call each editor and pitch them the book on the phone, adding more personal information about my reaction to the story, maybe, or about the author, than I might write in the covering email. After I’ve spoken to the editor and they expressed interest, I email the manuscript with my cover letter, sit back, and wait!