How to Build an Editor Sub List

In my long journey towards trying to sell a book to a publishing house via my lovely agent, besides wishing they were more stories about being on submission out there, I also found myself wishing–hard–that there were better resources for finding editors, those mythical, possibly winged creatures who hold the scepter of publishing power in their hand and have the ability to offer you a million dollars for your book, or more likely, $10,000 (split into four payments spread over two years and minus your agent’s 15% cut and taxes), or even more likely, a kind email saying some version of “thanks but no thanks.” (tryna keep it moderately real here)

I’m guessing anyone who clicks on this post is in the biz or getting into the biz, but to back it up here for a second, when you’re seeking traditional publication for your book, the first step is to find an agent. This process is called “querying.” It hurts like a motherf*&*%$r. Still, maybe you get an agent one day! Yay! After revising your manuscript again with your agent, the next step is going on submission. For this, your agent will build what’s called a “sub list,” i.e. a list of editors who acquire manuscripts for their imprint (imprints are kind of like brands within the big corporate umbrella of the publishing house–each has its own identity and flavor). Editors also sometimes acquire across multiple imprints. The editors on your sub list will then get an email pitch from your agent, possibly with the manuscript attached up front. (Side note: unlike the ways of querying, agents can choose whether to attach the manuscript up front or wait for the editor to request.)

There are lots of rules involved in building this sub list. To state the obvious up front, the first thing is to determine which imprints within which publishing house are a good fit for your book. This will depend on the genre (literary, sci-fi/fantasy, thriller, etc.) and age group (adult, YA, Middle Grade or Picture Book) of the book you’ve written. Once you’ve identified the imprints that seem like a good fit, you need to identify which editor at that imprint seems like the best fit, because you can’t submit to multiple editors at the same imprint. Some houses don’t want you submitting to multiple imprints within the house. You also may come up against a very fun limitation called “your agent has other clients” … as in, if your agent has another client’s work out with a particular editor, they will probably not want to send your project out as well, until that editor responds. (Also I should state here … I don’t worry about any of this as I do my search! My agent knows the rules and will figure that part out and whittle or modify the list and meld it with hers and redirect me where I’ve misfired until it’s perfect and targeted and law-abiding. Phew.)

Okay. At this point, you may be wondering–but if this is your agent’s job, why are we talking about sub lists at all?

Uh … yes, but lemme break it down for you … SOME OF US ARE CONTROL FREAKS. Yes. Some of us can’t seem to keep our dirty little paws out of the process. Very possibly we were also Those Kids who, in a group project in school, ended up taking control of and completing the entire project (scientific study has yet to confirm).

Actually for real let me rephrase this “control freak” business. So negative, isn’t it?? Let’s take a moment to reframe. I am actually a huge fan of knowing things! Yay! Knowledge is power. Or at least more power than not-knowledge. Plus, since I’m trying to launch a career as a writer, being familiar with imprints and editors has always seemed like something I want to know all about.

Anyway! Psychological meditations on group projects and the Value of Knowledge aside, when my agent thinks one of my books is close to being ready for submission, I pull out my handy dandy Excel sheet and I start to fill it in. It has the major houses as headers, with space for the imprints below. By the end, it’s a rainbow of colors. Gosh I absolutely adore updating these sheets as stuff happens, because That’s Who I Am. I’ll paste it below so you can get an idea of how to structure such a thing. The “Other” category is for independent publishers (such as Sourcebooks, Kensington, Bloomsbury, Amazon’s traditional publishing arm, Zando, Erewhon, Blackstone, etc.).

Now it’s time to research editors and add them to the sheet.

This is also where it gets dicey.

Dicey as in, you’re hurtling at top speed STRAIGHT INTO A BLACK HOLE, because …

NOT ALL PUBLISHING HOUSES AND IMPRINTS HAVE PUBLICLY LISTED EDITORS AND THEIR DESIRES.

*cue choking sounds*

*cue a scream so high-pitched no one can actually hear it*

I know.

My brain just exploded too, along with all my other major organs.

This, to me, is … insane. Every time we start *That Conversation* about transparency in publishing, one of my thoughts is always “let’s start with disclosing what editors work at what imprints AND KEEPING THOSE PAGES UPDATED!” It seems criminal in this digital age that there is not consistency across the board.

Anyway. Enough about that, eh? Lest I release another scream that breaks the world.

So. I’m going to list a ton of links below, but only to free resources (i.e. not Publisher’s Marketplace). These are the places I’ve scoured over the years to help build my sub lists. If I’m missing obvious ones, please feel free to add links in the comments and I’ll try to incorporate into this post.

As round #1 of sub proceeds (yes, there are usually multiple rounds), I stay busy updating my Excel with editor response times (verrrrry helpful for future reference) and creating my round #2 list (and of course writing the Next Book because that’s what one does on submission, right, my darlings? okay).

Disclaimer–publishing houses change, pages lapse, imprints close, houses merge, and editors move around a good bit. So if you pop in here and find outdated info, feel free to leave a comment and I will try to update them as things change! Also, this list is certainly not exhaustive; it’s just my starting point, and I hope it’s helpful to someone out there.

MAJOR HOUSES AND THEIR IMPRINTS

First, here is a handy flow chart (last updated a year ago) designed by Ali Almossawi that lists the houses and corresponding imprints. It’s huge, but here’s the little section of it corresponding to HarperCollins so you can get an idea:

LINKS TO EDITORIAL TEAMS BY HOUSE

PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE

Click here for PRH list of imprints, some of which link to editor lists, and some of which … don’t. For example, Razorbill (children’s/YA) has an editor list here! Yay. However, Good luck.

Click here for PENGUIN imprints, then click on the imprint to see their editor list. You can use the upper right hand to navigate–here’s a screen shot of the drop down for the adult section. To its right, “PENGUIN YOUNG READERS” also has a navigable drop down (or click here).

(the above includes editor lists for Avery, Berkley, Putnam, Dutton, Pamela Dorman Books, Viking, etc. on the adult side, and on the Young Readers side, Dial, Kokila, Putnam Young Readers, Razorbill, etc. )

SIMON & SCHUSTER

Click here for an S&S list of imprints and editors, with a very cool tool that lets you filter by genre (this includes Saga Press, Atria, Margaret McElderry, etc.). THANK YOU S&S FOR PUTTING THIS PAGE TOGETHER, I LOVE YOU FOREVER!

HARPERCOLLINS

Click here for a list of HarperCollins imprints

Click here for HARPER editors

Click here for Harper MARINER editors

Click here for the HARLEQUIN division, which includes imprints like Park Row, Inkyard, etc. This is an incomplete resource; for example, at this moment, Claire Stetzer is an editor an Inkyard, but she’s not listed anywhere.

Click here for AVON editors.

Click here for Harper Voyager editors, though I don’t believe it’s up to date … for example, Julia Elliott acquires for Harper Voyager but isn’t listed (she also acquires for William Morrow).

MACMILLAN

uh … Macmillan may be the worst of the bunch regarding editor transparency. Flatiron has a list! And Pan Macmillan (UK) and Celadon! But hello St Martin’s, Wednesday Books, Tor/Forge, Feiwel & Friends … can you throw us a crumb?

Click here for Macmillan imprints

Click here for a list of St Martin’s imprints

Click here for Flatiron Books editors

Click here for Celadon editors

Click here for Tor imprints … I have yet to find an editor list

Click here for PAN MACMILLAN TRADE (UK) editors

HACHETTE

Click here for Hachette’s imprints

Click here for Grand Central editors and here for their imprints (which includes FOREVER among others)

Click here for an unofficial place to find Orbit (adult sci-fi/fantasy) editor tastes

OTHERS

There are too many independent publishers to list here, but I’ll list a few reputable publishers that I have submitted to in the past and that have graced us with handy editor lists:

SOURCEBOOKS – Click here for editors organized by imprint

ZANDO – Click here for their editor list

AMAZON PUBLISHING – Click here for their editor and imprint info

BOOKOUTURE – Click here for their editor list

KENSINGTON BOOKS – Click here for editors and here for a list of imprints

EREWHON – Click here for editors

ALCOVE PRESS – Click here for editors

CROOKED LANE – Click here for editors

Additional Resources for Finding Editors

For imprints without official “meet the team” style pages or, ehem, pretty much any information about their editorial teams (hello Bloomsbury … hello Scholastic … *COUGH COUGH*), I use a few methods to dig deeper:

Publishers Weekly Rights Report (click here for an example), which is a weekly round-up (comprehensive, I believe) of all children’s book deals (PB, MG and YA) from that week. This is a great resource for finding editors as well as seeing what is selling right now (which is different from what’s hitting shelves–those deals were frequently made 2 years prior!). I wish this was available for adult book deals too!

Google the house or imprint with words like “book deal” or “deal announcement” and see if you can wring an editor name from that search. Then, search for that editor name and see if you can wring out additional info on their taste, other titles they’ve published, etc.

Search for an editor name paired with “meet the team” or “bio” or “editors” or “editorial team” to try and locate the imprint home page where they work

Use the “Find editors” tool on The Official Manuscript Wish List site. It’s hit or miss as to whether any particular imprint is represented, but there are some gems! I’ve also, er, literally gone through every single editor entry and clicked. Like I said … knowledge is power?

Use the MS Wishlist tool, which displays tweets of what agents or editors are looking for and has handy filters

Google books that you’ve used as comps for your own book, or are within the genre you’re writing, and try to find the acquisitions announcement for that book, where you can then find the name of the editor(s) who bought it. You can use handy search terms like “book deal,” “deal announcement,” or “acquisitions announcement.”

Again, leave additional links in the comments if you’d like to help build this post as an even more helpful resource, because I’m sure I’ve missed a ton! Love you all and here’s to us getting our work OUT THERE!

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