Now last week, I started talking about tailoring submissions. I pointed out that you should make sure you send your work to someone who will appreciate it. What I didn’t tell you was how to gauge an editor’s tastes.

There are several ways to do this:

  1. See if they’ve posted preferences anywhere.
    Does the editor have a blog (like me) or is he/she specifically requesting a certain type of manuscript (also like me)? Because that’s the best way to know your manuscript is going to someone who will actually look at it if the person says they are actively seeking something.
  2. Check the various children’s writers’ boards.
    Just because you haven’t found the blog post or announcement doesn’t mean someone else didn’t find it. Look around at places like SCBWI or Verla Kay‘s site. I know my picture book submission guidelines have been put up there.

However, sometimes you won’t be able to find the information this way. Then you’ll have to be sneakier to figure out what those finicky editors like. You can:

  1. Ask around.
    Perhaps you know someone who has worked with that editor before. What did he/she tell your friend about his/her preferences?
  2. Read things the editor has worked on.
    This is the method that is least precise, but probably the one you’ll most often have to rely on. After all, editors do work on projects they haven’t acquire and that might not be to their tastes. I know I have. However, this will be your best bet on getting to know your editor when you don’t have any personal or online intel. As I’ve said before, to find out what the editor has worked on, simply go to any book that is in the same genre as yours and look at the acknowledgments page. A majority of the time, the author has thanked his/her editor. Voila. You now have a potential submission target.

(Now I have acquired picture books in the past, but that was for Blooming Tree which has a very different publishing philosophy. I’m not saying I don’t love those picture books. I do. They just wouldn’t fit as well in CBAY. A better gauge of the kind of picture book I’m looking for now would be looking at my existing line. After all, it should fit in with the rest of the list.)

© Copyright 2006-2011 Madeline Smoot. All rights reserved.
May be excerpted and duplicated for educational purposes.
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