On every writer’s networking list I am on, or have ever been part of, one of the recurring subjects is that of the names of editors at particular publishing houses. “Does anyone know the name of the editor at XYZ?” someone will ask, or “Is Josephine Bloggs still the submissions editor at ZXY?”
Nine times out of ten someone on the list will know the answer and it is duly proferred and the askee can then send thier submission addressed to that person.
The first time I came across one of these queries, I had no idea why it was being asked. I had always just sent my manuscripts to the address in the company’s submission guidelines, and they’d mostly been considered and returned, or (occassionally) considered and accepted. Was this a problem?
I checked this out and found that many websites, chatlists, articles and even books recommend that when you submit a manuscrirpt you should make sure your envelope and letter are addressed to the right person.
Then I checked some more and found that others (though fewer) said it wasn’t necessary – since if it is addressed according to the submission guidelines, which usually state the recipent as ‘Submissions Editor’ or ‘Children’s Publisher’ or similar, then it will get to the right person.
So, I kept doing what I’d always done, submitting in that way without stressing about the correct name. The exception was where I personally knew the person who would be reading my submission – eiethr directly, through having met them, or indirectly through having ‘met’ them online or via correspondence. If I have some semblance of a relationship with someone, I figure, then it is polite to use their name rather than calling them Dear Sir/Madam.
Anyway, that’s how I do it, and when I see requests onlist for names, I generally don’t respond, since I figure it just isn’t necessary. But I must admit to a teensy feeling of being ineffeicient when I see others going to such lengths to get a name. So I was heartened, when reading yesterday’s Pass It On networking newsletter, to find a link to a piece by the amazing Harold Underdown, discussing the topic in detail. You can read Underdown’s opinion here. I was heartened especially because he agrees with me (or, I suppose I should say I agree with him).
So, if you don’t know the name of the person who’s going to open your manuscript, why not save yourself some time, and simply address it in the way outlined in the publisher’s submission guidelines? After all, if the editor doesn’t know you, and hasn’t reqeusted your manuscript, the reality is it will be treated in just the same way, whoever it is addressed to.