I have been reading many articles and blogs referring to cover and query letters. It is strongly suggested to address these to a specific editor or publisher rather than a “Dear Editor”. How do you go about finding the name of a specific editor when you are submitting to a large publishing company?
The short answer is: Most of the time, you can find it on their website. Look for their Submission Guidelines/How to Submit page. Then follow the instructions.
The long answer: Since I get variations of this question all the time, I thought I'd do a very detailed description of what to do and how to do it. First, since I just finished reading a paranormal fantasy, I decided that was the book I'd be shopping.
I googled Harper Collins because that was the publisher of the book I'd just finished.
By googling, I found the Harper Collins main website. I scrolled down to the very bottom of their page and found a link that said "Manuscript Submissions." Most of the time, the submission info is at the bottom of the main webpage but sometimes you have to dig a little.
Upon clicking that link, I discovered that you have to have an agent to submit to Harper Collins, unless you're submitting to Avon Romance. They included a link called "Avon Romance Submissions Guidelines."
Clicking that link took me to the Avon Romance main web page. Again I scrolled down to the very bottom and found a link that said "Submission Guidelines" in a pretty pink color.
Clicking that one took me to a page with lots of great information—which I read very carefully. Yes, they take Paranormal Romance in the 90-100K word count range. Good. Kept reading. Kept reading...
There at the very bottom was this message:
How To Submit A Manuscript
Please note Avon’s submission policy
To submit your romance or women’s fiction (only), please query first. You must query by e-mail. When you do so, please put QUERY in the subject line. Due to the overwhelming amount of Spam email we receive, subject lines that have manuscript titles often do not reach the editors. Your query should be brief, no more than a one-page description of your book. Do not send chapters or a full synopsis at this time. Also, please do not send attachments – THEY WILL NOT BE OPENED. You will receive a response — either a decline or a request for more material — in approximately six to eight weeks.
Please e-mail your query to firstname.lastname@example.org.
They obviously do not care that you address them personally. Further research to find the name of the actual editor at Avon Romance is moot.
If I were a real author, with a real book to submit, I'd follow the instructions in that paragraph TO. THE. LETTER.