Here is a list of the most prominent market guides:
- Writer's Market (covers the better-known markets for most genres)
- Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market
- Novel & Short Story Writer's Market
- The Christian Writer's Market Guide
- Poet's Market
- Guide to Literary Agents
Here are some other online guides.
- Poets & Writers magazine provides directory resources covering literary journals and magazines, small presses, conferences, and academic programs, among others.
- Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators has a downloadable resource called The Book, which covers children's markets and is available free to members.
Some writers' guidelines say whether the publisher accepts unsolicited queries or manuscripts or whether all submissions must be agented. This may vary by genre within the same publishing house, and the publisher's guidelines should tell you that, as well. If you cannot locate the guidelines on the publisher's website, that may be a clue that the publisher will not accept unagented material.
The writers' guidelines may ask you to submit to a general mailbox (e.g., submissions @ publisher.com). Some people recommend submitting to a particular editor or agent, and that often works. Not always, though. The editor or agent may be so busy that he or she passes the submission to a more junior individual or--in the worse case scenario--tosses it in the round file. For some editors, if you send it directly rather than to the address in the guidelines, the editor assumes you can't follow instructions. So sometimes submitting to a specific individual works for you, and sometimes it works against you.
If you decide to submit to a specific individual, or if the writers' guidelines suggest that you do so, call the company and ask the person who answers the telephone to confirm that the individual is still there. Check the individual's title and the spelling of his or her name, as well. Nothing guarantees rejection like a misspelled name.
Following these steps will not ensure that you get published. They will, however, keep you from wasting time on markets that do not publish your genre or that accept manuscripts only through agents.