So you've finished writing a novel or picture book and you're ready to share it with the world. Everyone is telling you to do market research before you submit. There's one problem...you have no idea what they are talking about!
First of all, you must make time to read. Sounds easy, right? You've always loved reading. But this is a blog for the full-time working author. I don't care when and how you read, but this step is a must. Look at the books listed on Kirkus, the YALSA Best Books for Young Adults, Goodreads, other author's blogs, and countless other sources for suggestions of new YA and Midgrade book titles.
Secondly, if you don't belong to SCBWI you must join immediately. Not only will the local and national conferences open many doors for you - meeting editors, agents, and other writers, the national website has invaluable resources. My favorite place to visit is the list of 'Edited by'. When I read a book that feels like one of mine - same topic, genre, voice - I look at the list to see who edited that book and then I know whom to query. Also, if I meet an editor at a conference, I can look up the list of their latest books and see whether or not we would be a good match. If I see books similar to mine after the editor's name, I make sure that I mention the titles in my query letter.
Finally, the agent's directory on the SCBWI website is also invaluable. I have used that directory to look up agents, go to their websites and read the books that they have acquired. Again, if I feel we are a good match, I query that agent.
Querying someone without knowing their tastes is like feeding half a cow to a vegetarian - a waste of time and energy (something neither you nor the person queried has in abundance). Doing your homework shows respect for yourself and the person with whom you hope to work.
Good luck!!!Society of Children's Writers and Illustrators