How to Use Publishers Marketplace When Querying
I often tell clients to invest $25 a month in a PublishersMarketplace.com subscription when they begin querying. Unfortunately, though, this advice isn’t as intuitive as other querying advice (e.g., read the novels the agent represents, follow the submission guidelines, follow the #MSWL or #PitMad threads on Twitter). Here is a short Publishers Marketplace tutorial on how to get the most of out this tool when you query agents.
Publishers Marketplace (PM) is a publishing industry bulletin board. Anyone who works with books is free to buy a subscription and have a profile page on the site–even authors. When agents sell their clients’ books, they will often post a deal announcement on PM. The announcement mentions the manuscript, author, publisher, acquiring editor’s name, and deal size (e.g., “very nice deal” or “major deal”). What we’re interested in are the agents’ and editors’ deal pages, because the links at the top show a network of all the other agents or editors that they’ve worked with in the past 12 months.
The Publishers Marketplace Tutorial
PM is most helpful when you begin with a list of books that are like yours, as well as a few names of agents who represent what you write. In other words, to get the most out of PM, you need to start with a list of names—author names, agent names, and/or editor names.
Step 0: Where to Begin
So, let’s say you are an author in India who is writing a story set there. You would gather the following list in the following ways.
Then you log on to PM. The goal is not only to find out which agent represents authors 1-3 and get submission info for agents 4-5, but to use PM to create a network of connections AROUND these people and generate a much longer list. PM is primarily valuable for its deal announcements and the ability to see which agents work with which editors. (See graphics below.)
Step 1: View the Dealmaker Page
Do a search on each name. You’ll likely get several results; one result might be an author page containing a bio and agent’s name. Other results might include deal announcements: click on the announcement and see what editor acquired the book. Click on the editor’s name. Each editor’s listing will show which agents have sold projects to that editor in the last 12 months. This is what you want. From each agent’s name, then, you can get four or more other agents’ names.
Step 2: Populate Your List
The reasoning behind this is that the publishing industry is all about personal tastes. If you can start with books that YOU like and which are similar in style or content to yours, you are beginning with taste: a particular style of fiction. Then you move your search outward from there, using the PM network to identify people who have represented and acquired books like yours. This helps narrow down the field while still generating twenty or more names you wouldn’t have thought to search for, otherwise.