So, there's this thing called the internet. And we use it for nearly all our research into anything these days. This is especially true for research on topics that have to be current, such as, well, agent and editor listings. When you have a story or novel to submit, you hit the interwebs to find a spot for it, right?
Believe it or not, back in the old days, writers had to rely on books for such research. Like real, physical books. And most of the time when you were doing research the books you needed to reference were huge and unwieldy tomes housed in the library. There were also books published by Writer's Digest and others, extensive, expensive listings of publishing contacts that were out of date by the time you bought them. Overall, it was a royal pain. So, thank God for the internet. When I was submitting Emma Jean to a gazillion publishers I used internet agent listing sites extensively.
(Alas, I'm having a hard time finding any current ones I can link to. There used to be an amazing one that listed everyone, compiled by a guy with a serious case of sour grapes, who posted every single rejection letter he ever got, and the agent contact info, too. It was a fantastic resource–but also bordered on libelous at times. I suspect he got shut down. Anybody remember this site or have a link for it? NEWS FLASH–I found it! Here's the link to part one, of seven. Check it out. The guy is relentless.)
Anyway, I digress. I hadn't paid much attention to agent listings lately (this will change soon, as I'm finishing the rewrite of my second novel–agents, I'm looking at you, yes, you, soon) and had assumed that the big guidebooks were a thing of the past. But, oh how wrong I was. Because towards the end of last year I was offered the chance to review Jeff Herman's Guide to Book Publishers, Editors & Literary Agents. And, having my own agent search in mind as well as the needs of my loyal readers, I said yes.
I have to say, the book is pretty great. The bulk of it is a directory of publishers, literary agents and independent editors. Since I'm most interested in agents at this point, that's what I focused on perusing. And what I like about the listings is that besides the basic info about email and address, they also include a Q and A interview the agent has filled out, which really gives you more insight into them.
And that's not all–there are numerous essays throughout the book. These are written mainly by Herman and his wife Deborah. Some, like the one on digital marketing, are useless. But others, like the chapter on how agents work and how to find one are quite good. (I'll be talking more about that chapter in a future post, because as I was writing this up it occurred to me that a How to Find an Agent post would be an excellent idea.)
There's also info on writing book proposals and query letters, definitions of publishing terms, insider tips, and so on. It's quite the comprehensive book. And it's got a price tag to match–$29.99 (a bit less on Amazon).
So, the question is whether or not I would recommend this book. And the answer is….yes, if. What I mean by that is yes, if you are a newbie to the writing and publishing world. (Though do bear in mind that Herman approaches these worlds with a very particular mindset.) There's a ton of information here that will give you a good grounding in the industry. If you have more experience in these worlds, check it out from the library. Because it is fun to leaf through and read and of course, the directory part seems to be quite extensive. (But also remember that the publishing industry is notoriously fluid. You'd do well to double check any information in the book with a look at the internet.)
Do you have an agent? Did you use a directory to find one?
(For the record, I received a copy of the book in order to write this post, but no other compensation.)