Someone on one of my writers' loops posted a message looking for information on the thirteen agents he was considering sending queries to. I was able to provide data on twelve out of the thirteen.
Shortly afterward, another member sent me an email off loop, asking where I'd found all that information.
I've blogged about this before, but don't mind talking about it again.
Some months ago, I purchased a small box with an alphabetical index and some 3X5 white cards. I also subscribed to the Publishers Marketplace free lunch (www.publishersmarketplace.com) which provides listings of deals made in the publishing industry. Every time I saw a deal or heard about an agent on a writers' loop in the genres in which I was writing, I created an index card with the agent's name on top. I filed them alphabetically by the agent's last name with a cross-reference card containing the agency's name.
Before long, I decided to start including editors and publishing houses to my index system. Soon, I needed a second index card box.
Just think of the number of times every day you see emails mentioning information about editors and agents and what they're looking for in manuscripts. Within 90 days, I had collated a surprising amount of information.
When I saw that request for information this week, I was able to tell the person that:
Meredith Bernstein prefers to hear from published writers
Stuart Krichevsky sells primarily non-fiction
Lucienne Diver likes quirky and represents P.N. Elrod and Susan Krinard
Rich Henshaw sells a lot of thrillers and mysteries and represents Dana Stabenow
Jennifer Jackson makes a lot of deals in the sci-fi/fantasy genre
Jonathan Lyons worked at Curtis Brown until he moved to McIntosh & Otis in 2005
Scott Andrew Mendel does not represent fantasy, sci-fi or paranormal
Kristen Nelson lives in Denver and has a blog at http://pubrants.blogspot.com/
I could go on, but you get the point. By just paying attention and keeping the information in a centralized location, you, too, can build your own agent/editor database. If you start BEFORE you're ready to find a agent, by the time you're ready to begin querying, you'll have all the information you need to target your efforts.
So, what are you waiting for? Get cracking.