I started writing for children way back in the 20th century. (GASP!) While many aspects of writing children have changed over the years, one goal that has remained constant is to find the editor (or agent) who will love my manuscript.
Here are the Top 10 ways that I've used to research editors and agents:
In 1995, the year I committed to writing for children, my "bible" for researching editors and agents was the Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market. This book contains listings that are updated annually - names, addresses, and pertinent information about each entity - as well as helpful articles. It is currently in its 32nd printing, so it must be doing something right!
2. Agency Websites
Agency websites are a great way to find a list of their agents and a description of what types of books they represent. You may find a list of clients, too, where you might spot artists that you feel an affinity to. Sometimes individual agents post their wish lists. Above all, this is a definitive place to find specific submissions information for the agency.
You can get a feel for publishing houses and imprints by looking over their current and upcoming titles, but long gone are the days of requesting printed catalogs. These days, with publishing houses merging and morphing, I find the easiest way to peek at a catalog is through Edelweiss+. I search for an imprint and find their latest list.
4. Other websites/blogs
There are so many great kidlit websites! My top picks for submissions information are:
The Purple Crayon. Harold Underdown's website has so much to offer! In particular, the "Who's Moving Where?" section provides me with the latest information on editor changes at publishing houses.
Writing and Illustrating blog has terrific, in-depth interviews with agents each month, as well as editor and art director interviews.
KidLit411, by Sylvia Liu and Elaine Kiely Kearns, describes itself as "a one stop info shop for children's writers and illustrators," and that's the truth. Scroll down their Topics list to check out Agent Spotlight, Editor Spotlight, and Submissions.
On Twitter, I find handy hashtags to harvest information on editors and agents. Do a search for these hashtags: #askanagent, #askaneditor, and #MSWL (manuscript wish list), to name a few. Follow your favorite publishers and professionals to keep up-to-date with them.
6. Conferences and workshops
Attending conferences and workshops may involve a cost, but they come with the possibility of great rewards. Often you can get an editorial critique of your work, which lets you to get tips from the top. And faculty members usually open their submissions window for a few months for attendees - so important for unagented manuscripts!
SCBWI is the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. If you are serious about writing for kids, membership in this organization is one of the most important steps you can take.
Among its resources, SCBWI has compiled The Book: Essential Guide to Publishing for Children. It details how to prepare and submit your work. The Market Survey section gives a current snapshot of the market (although change is continual). I like the section "Edited by..." with information that can help pair your book with a receptive editor.
Querytracker is a database of agents and editors, and a channel used by many of them to recieve submissions. The standard membership is free; a premium membership has more to offer, but comes with a cost. (I've browsed the database for information, but I haven't used it for submissions.)
9. Author Acknowledgments
For novelists, you may discover agent and editor names for your favorite authors by checking out the acknowledgments in the back of their books.
This is my favorite way of tracking agent and editor preferences! Near the bottom of this twice-weekly newsletter is a list of current book deals. Each announcement includes the name of the author (and illustrator, if it's a picture book deal), the editor who bought the book, the book title, a brief description of the book, and the name of the agent(s) securing the deal. It takes some work, but I maintain a spreadsheet of this information that I can search when I have a new manuscript ready. Using Control + F brings up a search box where I can enter key words to find deals that have similarities to my work. (E.g. I search "rhyme" to discover editors that may be open to rhyming picture books.) Sign up for the Children's Bookshelf newsletter here.
These sources are my Top 10, but you'll undoubtedly find many more. If you have a favorite, please share it in the Comments below.
Happy writing, everyone! Good luck with those submissions!