Hello Miss Snark,
An agent at a top-notch agency just requested a full (didn’t I say before that you’ve had a profound effect on my writing?). Included in her list of “stuff to send” is a submissions history. Obviously I’ll let her know that one other agent is currently reading a requested partial; I also understand that it’s not necessary to mention the other agent’s name.
However, I also submitted sample chapters to an editor back in December, who, after reading my work, referred me to an editor at a different publishing house. A referral – wonders never cease! My question is, in outlining my submission history to the agent who has requested the full, should I mention the specific names of the editors and houses, or simply state that my manuscript was referred from one editor to another, who now has sample chapters? My gut tells me to spill all, since I understand that this is important information for a prospective agent. But my businessman husband is telling me, “Don’t give more information than is absolutely necessary.”
So. Which one of us is right?
The agent wants to know if this work has been seen by so many people that it's narrowed the pool of possible submissions past what she would take on.
In this instance I would mention the editor's name and house. Here's why: some major publishers allow submissions to more than one division of the company. Some don't. If you've sent this off to one that does NOT, the prospective agent needs to know the potential market has been narrowed.
Another reason that is that agents have varying levels of rapport with editors. If you've sent it to someone I do a lot of biz with, it's a much easier follow up than someone I've never called before in my life.
Another reason to be specific is that there's no downside to it, whereas being coy, or too general makes you look clueless. Telling me your book is at "Penguin Putnam" is utterly useless, much like telling me it's at "Random House". Telling me your book is being considered by Liz Scheir at Roc after a referral from Mark Tavani at Ballantine tells me a WHOLE lot more.
Being specific is the best choice here.