Every time I go to submit a new project I approach the submission as if I’m brand new in publishing, with no knowledge of who’s who or any real contacts. In other words, I don’t always have a predetermined list of exactly which editors are going to receive the book. I have ideas, but nothing concrete until I do my research.
I’m not sure if that’s the most efficient way to do the job, but it’s what works for me and, quite honestly, I really enjoy it.
Each submission starts with a blank page. While I should probably create an excel spreadsheet, I have a more simplified system using Word. I start by making a list of publishers who, off the top of my head, would be perfect for the project. Then I start my research. I add the names of the editors I know, I like, and who are responsive. Of course, they are also a good fit. My next step is to go into Publisher’s Marketplace and read every deal that even remotely sounds like a possible comp and this doesn’t always mean in the same genre. I read PM almost daily, but when I have a submission I’m looking at specific deals with specific selling points (genre, style, etc). From there I review all the publisher websites to see if there’s anyone who pops out at me, and lastly I review our own list of editors from the information we glean from talking and meeting with them.
That’s a start. As time goes on there will be other things I’ll do, like keeping a constant eye on new deals and even reading acknowledgments of competitive titles.
As I come across editors with potential I write them down. Some get stars, those are the editors I know would be perfect for the project. Some get questions marks and some publishers have a list of two to three editors. As I review, think, talk to my team, and even connect with editors my list will narrow and become clearer.
The submission process can easily take up to a week. I’m very careful and systematic. This also involves writing my pitch letter (which can sometimes take a week on its own), but it’s a critical first step in introducing an author to editors and a house. You only get one shot with a project at any given house and it’s imperative that I make sure it’s the right shot and not just anyone.