In contrast to the questioner on Wednesday, who seemed to have a list of favored publishers, I'm wondering how you handle a situation where a writer prefers not to do business with a certain publisher. Let's just posit that there are concerns of an ethical nature that probably have nothing to do with the quality of books being published. Let's also say the writer does NOT particularly want to make this known to said publisher, either publicly or privately.
Do you simply not pitch to that publisher? But what if a book is a perfect fit for a certain editor (who works for the "blacklisted" publisher) and s/he somehow gets word that you're shopping a book that's right up their alley, and asks you about it? Do you pitch it even though the writer doesn't intend to accept an offer? What if you do and they make an amazing offer, both money and terms, and it's not accepted-- do they ever ask why not? Would it be horribly awkward and perhaps damaging to your relationship to tell an editor your client doesn't want to do business with them? Or does this happen all the time and it's no big deal and everyone is fine with it?
More important, does this aversion to questionable business practices make a writer "difficult" and someone you'd rather not take on as a client? Is it something a writer should mention up front if an agent offers representation?
You've really been working yourself into a frenzy here haven't you?
Time to get off that hamster wheel and take a deep breath.
First, it's your book, and you don't have to sell it to anyone you don't want to. That said, if you arrive with a shiny new manuscript that I'm enamoured of, telling me you have a hit list of publishers, well, that's probably going to be it for me.
Here's why: Unless you can explain in pretty blunt and understandable terms, what your objections are to BigAssPublisher (ie the CEO is Ann Coulter in her spare time) my assumption is you have some irrational prejudices and that does not bode well for me being able to shop your book far and wide. It also does not bode well for future books; what if you decide This One and That One no longer meet your criteria?
If I sign you, and you reveal this prejudice only after I start talking about a submission list, you'd better have a VERY good reason, or I'm probably going to pull the plug.
This kind of stuff falls in the category "life is too short to deal with this kind of thing."
Now, that said, I do know an author, back in the day, who refused to let his agent shop his book to anyone who had published a book on the OJ case. (This was in the middle of the OJ case tempers were high, let me tell you)
His book did get published, but 20 years ago there were a lot more publishers to send things to.
Now if by some chance I think your reason not to want to do business with a publisher is sound, well then, I send it out, and if anyone asks why they didn't get it, I say what I always do: we had a very select, targeted list.
I will tell you this: I've only gotten calls a couple times from editors wondering why they didn't see something and every single time it's happened, it was after an exclusive submission and a pre-empt. In other words, most of the time editors are NOT looking to see what you didn't send them; they're trying to read the stuff they're behind on.
In the end you'll have to decide if this blacklist is something you really want to pursue. I STRONGLY urge you not to. If you go ahead, you really do need to discuss this with prospective agents BEFORE you sign.
This kind of thing can be a deal breaker and you don't want to tell everyone you've signed with Agent R only to be back out looking for a new agent in a couple weeks.
This is on the list of things you fret about before you really need to. Here, have a cookie and think about that really clunky sentence on page 400.