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on November 13, 2009
As the book proclaims on its cover that it will tell you who wants what, you should know that there is a name index only. If you already know who you're looking for, this book provides a wealth of information on most but not all major agents; but if you you want to know which publishers and/or agents are interested in what material, you are out of luck. There is no idex for that. Know what you're getting.
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on December 5, 2010
You're a writer. You need reliable contacts either for screenplays, novels, etc.

Herman has an excellent and professional approach to providing a listing, with useful information which goes well beyond most internet listings or other sources.

Unfortunately, he felt it necessary to provide all sorts of agent-centric viewpoints (mostly his own) about the business, which are not really useful at best, and at worst irritating.

Looking at listings, you'll just have to ignore the "worst client" categories he proposed to agents... where agents had the opportunity to reply with things like "sends packages impossible to open..." (what an incredibly difficult life agents have, with such a clientele...). This is really worthless stuff, designed to belittle people and make them feel like supplicants. Which is ass-backwards. Agents should be grateful that writers ask them for help. Agents should see themselves as FULL partners (and lucky to be so...) in a project.

Don't be put off with, or buy into, the crybaby agent-centric stuff Herman throws out about how agents receive 90 percent garbage... that they have to "wade through" it. At least... don't buy how boring and painful that is. Because: That's. Their. Job.

Writers, Herman needs to be reminded, have a tough job, too. At the very least. They spend months and even years developing an idea... character development, style, point of view, a general knowledge of humanity/the universe/etc... and agents take about 15 minutes to decide if they like it or not.

Herman seems to think all that effort at creation, doesn't really count in terms of "work". That the work only truly begins, when the agent starts peddling the property. Or, worse, that only agents know what real writing is all about.


Don't be fooled. These people aren't "experts". They work the way a reader works in a bookstore: pick up... like/dislike. Put back or buy. But in their case, they decide on pick up or buy based on their personal contacts in publishing companies. They base their decisions on WHO THEY KNOW, and the tastes of THOSE PEOPLE. In general, they don't know squat about the real intricacies of writing, except that -- to be fair -- they can recognize when something is acceptable or not (although not always, if you look at quite a bit of the stuff that gets published).

So... don't base your personal sense of self-worth... or model your writing approach... on that attitude. Write what you need to write, with all the conviction you have, and if it works, it works.

If it doesn't... it doesn't.

But ignore all this agent whining about how tough it is to winnow through the thousands of manuscripts they get. Poor them.

THIS book, is indeed useful because when Herman has gotten away from his ego essays (some of which are outright incomprehensible, especially when he launches into attempts at humor), he does provide a useful list.

Good luck. But don't be cowed by this agent-looking-down approach.

You're the writer. YOU'RE the one these people are making money on the backs of.

Don't forget it.
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on November 9, 2010
I had gone through all the agents I could find for literary fiction on, and an agent recommended that I buy this book which promises to give a writer a clearer understanding of what individual agents are really looking for. There is a lot of information in this book about their hobbies and what they think is "the client from hell," but just as with agency websites, there is very very little clarification about their true tastes in literature and what they are really looking for and what they SELL. A LOT say they are interested in literary fiction and you go to their websites and they focus mainly on horror or mystery. So, they may LIKE literary fiction, but they don't sell it. The book didn't take any of the work out of it for me, like having to research on-line after finding an agent's name, but it did give me access to more names, names of agencies I did not see listed anywhere on-line. So in one sense, it has helped because I can increase my queries by having more folks to send queries to, but too much in this book is irrelevant and silly. I don't need to know an agent's hobbies because kissing ass won't get me an agent,("dear agent, i love riding ponies, too!" wtf?) only finding someone who likes my kind of writing will and if they don't dig literary fiction or my type of writing, then I don't care what their hobbies are. Just not enough information about what each agent sells and the particular voice/style they like to work with.
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on November 18, 2009
Jeff Herman's book is an excellent resource for writers and he offers much practical advice. He also "kicks it up a notch" by allowing us a glimpse into the personal lives of those who would buy our work and that is a very telling thing for a writer. He also offers solid help with writing a proposal (a most daunting task at times for us non-fiction writers) in an easy format. The only negative thing I've found is that unlike "The Writer's Market" his book offers no information on what each publisher pays (royalties, advance offered, etc.) and for those of us who are interested in such things this is a serious subject I wish was included. Otherwise, a great book I would highly recommend.
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on November 29, 2010
You pour your life into a book. You craft it and work and rework it until it's finally at a stage where other people can look at it. Then what?

Then this book!

I used this book's recommendations to snare my first literary agent. It's a clear and straightforward guideline on how to do just that with a comprehensive listing of agents and publishers.

It takes away all the excuses you might have for procrastination.
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on August 17, 2011
I bought this book because I thought it would be more carefully researched than the on-line sites. My mistake. An agent who went on her own in 2009 is still listed with the old agency in the 2011 edition. I emailed the authors to give them a chance to explain or defend themselves. They ignored my message.

Save yourself time and money and use on-line resources.

If an old agency doesn't forward your submission, the agent never gets it. (See the discussion below.)
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on January 6, 2013
Seems this book is kind of looked upon as the BIBLE for writers, but I somewhat
disagree. Most information has a negative ring to it and is rather discouraging
especially for the novice writer. I was most interested in the section dealing with Literary Agents and at one time having worked as an actor, I realized there is very little difference between a Theatrical Agent and a Literary Agent. The theatrical agent is usually someone that couldn't make it as an actor so they
take their frustrations out on their clients, and the literary agent is someone who didn't make it as a writer so they have this haughty attitude toward anyone
trying to do something they couldn't. It's too bad aspiring writers have to deal with agents...most are so impressed with themselves, rather than encouraging new talent they almost DARE you to contact a reader of this book will soon realize.
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on October 4, 2009
Jeff Herman consistently provides literary enthusiasts with a wealth of information, contacts, etc. I echo the sentiment of others who state that his guide book(s) is like a Bible for authors, published or aspiring. And it's almost just as thick. I'm often asked, "What direction do I take to get published?" Of course, this all depends upon what one is writing. However, the answers and much, much more lie within the covers of this book. HIGHLY recommended!!!!
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on December 23, 2012
This has a lot of great information in it, but it's a pain to wade through. I mean, it's all well and good that Agent A like blueberry yogurt and Agent B like tap-dance, but when I'm looking for an agent, I just want to know what they represent and how to contact them. If the other hobby and favorite color are there too, that's great, but the important stuff should be highlighted in such a way that the book is easier to scan through.

That said, this is still pretty much the best book of this sort out there.
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on January 31, 2010
This guide to publishers, editors, and agents is better than any I've used before because of its in-depth look at the publishing world. The format is easy to read. There are many additional helps about query letters and summaries, as well as self-publishers. I especially like the "How would you describe the "author from hell" section. This book is well worth the money.
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