Now What? How to Discover Editors by Carolyne Topdjian

Congratulations! You’ve completed revisions. You are ready to present your work to publishers and have devised a submission strategy with your agent. Industry wizard that they are, your agent has already pitched your novel to several editors over drinks and has cast several spells. They have a list—an entire LIST of editors who might be a great match for your project.

Now what? Other than high five your agent and thank the stars for their expertise and partnership, is there anything else you can do? Let me rephrase: is there anything else you can do that’s more productive than diving into a hole, eating your body weight in Oreos, or, (and this is a staple for most writers), Twitter-stalking the editors your agent mentioned? Short answer: yes.

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Writing more projects aside, there are better ways to use your time and energy. For example, you can scout potential editors that may include and extend beyond your agent’s recommendations.

Now, for anyone who has ever Googled “find an editor,” researching the market can be daunting. A simple online search will yield endless indie editors for hire; great for writers who are self-publishing, but what if you’re agented and aiming for a traditional deal?

Well, below are five methods I’ve used to research editors—starting points of “places to go.” Whether or not you find your future editor through one of these routes, I guarantee each method is more effective and focused than hours spent stalking social media feeds.

  1. In Person at Literary Festivals and Conferences

Follow the published authors. Go where they go: to a book festival. Voilà: you will find editors.

Editors may participate in pitch sessions at conferences; some will attend select panels and talks; others will mingle in the lobby with fellow book-lovers. It’s a great opportunity to meet and greet them in person. Keep cool. Don’t pitch. Just socialize. As scary as it may be for many emerging writers, nothing beats a face-to-face human connection. You never know where it might lead to—or when.

  1. At Your Bookstore

Can’t shell out hundreds of dollars to attend a conference? No time or sanity to hobnob at book festivals? No problemo!

Visiting a bookstore may well be my favorite method to research editors. Not only is it introvert-friendly, it’s fun. Now you may be asking yourself, “What about my bookshelf? I don’t need to wear pants to browse there.” True, true. Same goes for your local library, (though pants are recommended at the latter).

But here’s the thing: the most current, well-organized, best-selling novels and debuts may not be stocked in your home or at your library. The best resource for these is your brick-and-mortar bookstore.

Browse the appropriate sections and featured displays. Find novels like yours in terms of genre and readership. Go straight to the copyright and acknowledgment pages. Authors thank their editors just like they do their agents. Ta-da! You’ve got your lead.

  1. Through Professional Organizations

Write a genre? Organizations like MWA, RWA, SFWA, and SCBWI often provide resources for their members where you can research potential publishers and editors. For example, I recently picked up some good info at an author panel organized by my local Sisters In Crime chapter.

You can also refer to hubs like Writer’s Digest. Each year, WD publishes an updated guide titled Writer’s Market that lists various publishers and what they’re looking for. I borrowed a copy from my local library, free of charge. Writer’s Market also has a complementary website devoted to where to sell your work.

  1. Through your Writers’ Network/Community

You can think of this as an extension of consulting your agent. Without question, your agent should be your primary contact and source of referrals. (Networking with editors is what agents do for a living.) Further to this partnership, it’s a good idea to liaise with select authors in your writing circles—all off public feeds, of course.

Keep your ear to the ground; referrals and references go a long way. You’ve heard it said time and again, the writing community is a small world. Chances are your existing network is full of useful info. So, from private forums and message boards to one-on-one hangouts and emails, reach out and get talking.

  1. Online of Course!

While Twitter may give you a glimpse into select editors’ personalities and tastes, many editors may not even be active on social media or be posting anything of use.

Rather, when it comes to online research, most industry professionals will tell you to subscribe to Publisher’s Marketplace. This can be costly; however, PM does offer advanced search options for agents, authors, publishers, and editors alike—assuming you can navigate the site’s outdated web design. It’s also worth keeping an eye out for their promos; every year, PM will offer a free one-month trial to attract new subscribers.

This is in addition to checking out the “Who we Are” pages on publishers’ official websites, editors’ LinkedIn profiles, their online manuscript wish lists and occasional blog interviews.

There you have it! By hanging out in these various “places,” odds are good you’ll discover a few editors whose tastes fit your project. In this case, go back to your agent, consult with them for additional intel, and devise a plan for pitching.

On a final note: the methods suggested above are not an exhaustive list. In fact, I’d love for you to share your own “places to go” in the comments. The reality is, in a creative, go-getter industry, finding an editor-match is tough work. No one-way exists to go about it. The process, however, is similar to finding an agent; it takes targeted effort. It may not be painless, but like all growth—professional, creative, or otherwise—it’s well worth your energy.

About Carolyne

Carolyne Topdjian is a writer of noir suspense and gothic tales with publications in PRISM International and Firewords Quarterly. She studied creative writing at the Humber School for Writers and obtained a PhD in Social and Political Thought from York University. Her latest feature story, “Itch” is forthcoming in Dreamers Magazine in Summer 2019.


Twitter: @TopdjianC

About the Series:

Now What? is a series dedicated to navigating post-query life and the agent-author relationship. Authors from every stage of their writing career have come together to tell their stories. They understand the struggles of querying and moving forward with an agent and are here to help.

New posts go live every Friday!

Previous Posts in this Series:

Signs You’ve Got a Legit Agent (and Red Flags to Look Out For)
Shannon Price

Inside an Offer Call
Alexis Ames

Parting Ways with an Agent
Caitlin LaRue

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