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Jeff Herman's Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, and Literary Agents 2011: Who They Are! What They Want! How to Win Them Over! (Jeff Herman's Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, & Literary Agents) 21st Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1402243370
ISBN-10: 1402243375
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jeff Herman is one of the world's most successful literary agents, having represented such bestselling authors as Ken Fisher, Jack Canfield, and Mark Victor Hansen. He has personally brought hundreds of writers into publication and helped launch thousands of careers. A frequent speaker at conferences and seminars, he lives in Stockbridge, MA.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.


The multinational conglomerated publishing entities

Jeff Herman

A long time ago, the U.S. book publishing business consisted of hundreds of mom-and-pop companies. Each was generally named for the individual(s) who founded the firm, and their respective catalogues reflected their own special tastes and sensibilities. Separately, none of these entities or individuals had the power to dictate the contemporary status or future direction of publishing. They were a thriving community of several hundred distinct pieces. Collectively, they comprised our nation's entire book publishing structure.

The revolution came and happened quickly. Some of us complained, but it didn't make any difference. It was a funny revolution in that it reversed the usual dynamic. Unlike the breaking away of exploited tribes from masters of conquest, which is revolution in its most romantic form, we watched as faceless and formless conquerors wrapped themselves around most of our precious tribes and soundlessly absorbed them into a small number of obese oceans. Perhaps those who might have cared the most saw gold before they saw the cost. Can we blame them? Should we even judge the result? Perhaps it is wiser to simply adjust.

We have consolidated the largest multinational publishing properties into their own section. It seemed right to do so, since consolidation has been their most striking feature. These companies possess the brand names of the firms they have acquired over the past three decades. While some of the firms may be led by high-profile individuals or greatly influenced by multigenerational families that control large blocks of non-traded stock, it is also safe to say that these firms are greater than any one person or any unified collection of people. At the end of the day, it is the various pension funds and institutional investment firms that must be satisfied.

There are two other key features of multinational publishers. 1) Most of them are controlled by foreign interests. 2) The book publishing programs are an extremely small part of a much larger agenda, which includes movies, magazines, broadcast and cable channels, newspapers, music, and the Internet.

Do not let my irreverent or ominous tone chase you away. At all of these firms you will find hardworking, dedicated editors who want nothing more than the ability to publish good books. And they manage to achieve that. So join with them and adjust to the system as it is. The best thing you can do is get your book published.

This section is followed by a large number of independent and small houses, each of which is capable of doing as much, or more, than the big houses. The independent houses are not vestiges from a dead past. To the contrary, they keep the current publishing climate vibrant, and help create the future with their entrepreneurial and innovative ways. Don't ever think twice about joining them.

I have asserted my discretionary powers to place a few houses in the Independent Section that could also fit into the Conglomerates Section. Obviously, not all corporations are the same. Some are the equivalent of Jupiter, while others are more like Mercury (I'm actually referring to size, not "personalities"). When the book division is not a mere asterisk within its corporate envelope, but is instead a crucial piece, you will find it with the independents.


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Product Details

  • Series: Jeff Herman's Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, & Literary Agents
  • Paperback: 1104 pages
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks; 21 edition (October 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1402243375
  • ISBN-13: 978-1402243370
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 7.3 x 2.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,659,348 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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.
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I had gone through all the agents I could find for literary fiction on Agentquery.com, 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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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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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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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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