I'm ready to start querying agents again after parting with my agent two years ago. I asked her for a list of submissions when we parted, but now I see it doesn't match with the records I kept. I think the difference is that my detailed list kept track of when she said she 'showed' something to an editor versus when she did a formal submission, but I'm not sure. If a new agent asks where the manuscript has already been submitted, should I use my previous agent's (very short) list or my own? Thanks for your help.
I assume you want to be as forthright as possible with your shiny new agent, so you want to use the longer list.
BUT you're correct to assume that "show" might not be the same as "submit."
Here's an example: I have a VERY short list of editors who get shown almost everything I take on, in that I talk to them about it first, and often give them an early exclusive.
The operating assumption is this: if they don't want it, I'm free to submit it to other editors at the same publisher. In other words, the editor doesn't log it in to the acquisitions data base as a submission.
So it's not really a submission, in that a pass from them is NOT a pass from the imprint/division/publisher.
BUT if a client needs a list of where their manuscript has been I would include the shows and the subs.
So, here's how you handle it: break the list into categories.
List ALL the places your work has been shown AND submitted.
Categorize each as "shown" OR "submitted".
Here's what that would look like if I did it.
(This is NOT some sort of industry standard, it's just how I do this kind of thing. More on this below.)
Title: Felix Buttonweezer's Classic Crime Novel
Editor Awesome at Jawsome Publishing
Editor Almost Awesome at Imprint Important
Editor New at Hot New Imprint
Huey McDuck at PageTurner Inc
Louis McDuck at Riveting Reads
Dewey McDuck at More Awards Than Money
As noted above, this is not something we all learned in Agent School.
Not all agents do this. Thus, you will want to explain that the agent described some things as "shown to" and some things as "submitted" but did not tell you the difference between them.
When you list the places your work was submitted, it will be helpful to include any comments the editors made in response.
An experienced agent eye can often discern if it's a boilerplate rejection, or something that got a more thorough read.
When I've been in the New Agent position, I've seen submission lists from Old Agent that set my hair on fire. It was clear to me (and to anyone with a lick of experience) that Oldie but Not Very Goodie had simply shotgunned the ms to everyone he could think of. It was also clear that the book was as good as "never submitted" because there were almost no rejection notes.
A lot of editors handle pitches from agents they don't know or don't like by simply ignoring them, passing without reading. If we were all on The West Wing this would be called a pocket veto.