- Series: Jeff Herman's Guide to Book Editors, Publishers, and Literary Agents
- Paperback: 1104 pages
- Publisher: Sourcebooks; 21 edition (October 1, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1402243375
- ISBN-13: 978-1402243370
- Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 2.2 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 38 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,315,797 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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 Editors, Publishers, and Literary Agents) 21st Edition
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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
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.
Top customer reviews
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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.
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.)