Jeff Herman, a long-time literary agent, has published his guide to the publishing industry for more than 20 years. I’ve used it a number of times to research publishers, agents, and editors. It could be quite useful for you to save time, target your efforts, and avoid missteps.
He opens the book with articles with information on the publishing industry and its processes. There are good insider insights that could help you in your quest. In this 2015 edition I found an idea I like: can’t get an agent? Then become one yourself. If you do this, then the sections on book publishers and their editors become your guide to pitching.
If you’re looking for a literary agent, he asks them a number of questions that can help guide and focus your queries (he also discusses how to write query letters and book proposals). There’s personal information that could help you connect with an agent (not all agents answer all questions, but their answers are helpful nonetheless). The questions he asks include:
- Describe what you like to represent and what you won’t represent
- What are the best ways for writers to pitch you?
- When and where were you born?
- Do you charge fees?
- Describe your education and career history
- Why and how did you become an agent?
- Would you do it over again, or something else?
- List some representative titles you have placed
- Describe yourself as a person
- Do you miss the way the business “used to be”?
- How would you describe the proverbial “client from hell,” and what are the warning signs?
- Describe your job and what you like and don’t like about it
If you’re working on getting your book traditionally published, I think Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, & Literary Agents could well give you an edge in opening that door. Highly recommended.
For what it’s worth,