When sending a query letter, many resources I read say to choose an editor from the appropriate Writer’s Market and send it to him/her personally. This seems counter-intuitive to me. My first thought would be to send it as the publisher’s submission guidelines instruct–which often does NOT list editors by name. Should a secondary source really be favored over a primary source for this information?
This is a tricky one, and most authors go with what feels right to them. Publishers’ guidelines (especially with larger publishing houses), often don’t list the names of specific editors because if that editor leaves or gets promoted to a different position, all the guidelines would have to be reprinted. However, the Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market is updated every year, so the staff names are current at least for a few months after each edition comes out.
The prevailing wisdom is to, whenever possible, address your query to a specific editor. So I’d start with the name listed in CWIM, and give a quick call to the publisher just to verify that that person is still there before mailing your manuscript. If the listing in CWIM says to address to “Submissions Editor,” then honor that. Some publishers’ guidelines do state that they don’t want manuscripts addressed to particular editors, but rather to the Children’s Book Department in general, and in those cases that’s what you should do.
The bottom line: Do your best to write a professional letter and follow the submission procedures as closely as you can. I don’t think a terrific manuscript would be rejected because you put a person’s name on the letter when it should go to a department, or vice a versa.
Laura Backes, Publisher