Jeff Herman’s Guide To Book Publishers, Editors and Literary Agents [book review]

If you want a lighthearted yet no-nonsense guide to traditional publishing, look no further than Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors and Literary Agents 2017: Who They Are, What They Want, How to Win Them Over.

No, really.

I love writers and publishers guides. They’re on my Christmas list every year. But this is the first one I’ve read cover to cover and come back for more. And that’s saying something.

Laid out like any other writers guide, there are essays and articles on writing advice, publishing information, and an introduction to planet literary agent before getting to the good stuff. The listings. Who’s buying, who’s selling, who’s looking for what and when. It’s all good stuff, and I can’t get enough.

Jeff Herman has a wonderful sense of humour, which helps make typical writing and publishing advice come alive and keeps the reader engaged. The listings follow an interesting format, with the agency or agent answering a series of questions. It gives you a good sense of who they are and what they do and each get equal space in the book.

Agent Questions

  • Describe the kinds of works you want to represent
  • Describe what you definitely don’t want to represent
  • How do you want writers to pitch to you?
  • Describe your education and professional history
  • How did you become an agent?
  • Knowing what you do now, would you do it again? If not, what might you do instead?
  • Do you charge fees? If yes, please explain
  • When and where were you born, and where have you lived?
  • What do you like to do when you’re not working?
  • List some of the titles you have recently placed with publishers
  • Describe your personality
  • What do you like reading/watching/listening to on your own time?
  • Do you think the business has changed a lot over the past few years? If yes, please explain
  • What do the “Big 5” mean to you?
  • How do you feel about independent/small presses?
  • What are your feelings about self-publishing?
  • Do you think Amazon is good or bad—or both—for the book business?
  • What do you like and dislike about your job?
  • What are ways prospective clients can impress you, and what are ways they can turn you off?
  • How would you describe the “writer from hell”?
  • Describe a book you would like to write
  • Do you believe in a higher and/or lower “power”?

Thorough, right?

There’s also a section dedicated to Canadian publishers, which I heart.

Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors and Literary Agents 2017: Who They Are, What They Want, How to Win Them Over is available now from Amazon, Chapters, and anywhere else you buy books.

Jeff Herman’s Guide To Book Publishers, Editors and Literary Agents

The Writer’s Best Friend and Bible!

Writers, agents, and editors all agree that Jeff Herman’s Guide is the must have, go-to reference for everyone who writes. This book will get you past the slush piles and into the hands of the people who have the power to publish.


With Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors and Literary Agents you will learn the names and contact information for hundreds of agents and editors, and will be given the “code” for how to win them over. More comprehensive than ever, this 21st edition will give you all the insider information you need to get published, including how to write knockout pitch letters and proposals, as well as an expanded Canadian section.

Get a Free Toque and Bring Ideas to Action at TEDxStanleyPark with This Exclusive Deal!

Get a Free Toque from Robyn Roste

On March 4, 2017 TEDxStanleyPark will bring ideas to action and you can be a part of the revolution!

As a blog ambassador I’m thrilled to promote this incredible event, which will bring ideas to action. And to sweeten the deal for every ticket sold using my affiliate link I’ll knit you a toque! I guarantee you won’t see this deal from anyone else (no really, who else would think of TEDx and toques?).

Learn more about the event from my writeup or you can jump right over to TEDxStanleyPark and get your ticket! Let me know you’re going and I’ll get your toque in the queue.

TEDxStanleyPark 2017 speakers list

This year’s TEDxStanleyPark takes place in front of 2,640 live guests at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver, BC.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

free toque from

Thanks to Jennie Marie Photography for the stunning photos!


TEDxStanleyPark is an annual conference that showcases a diverse range of humanity’s tough challenges and activates attendees to implement solutions to those challenges. Our perennial theme is Ideas to Action.

Our Vision

We use high-impact talks to cause actions to happen that move the needle toward a better world. These actions give legs to dreams of what could be.


TEDxStanleyPark is for thoughtful optimists with curious, fertile and open minds in search of practical ways to make the world a better place.

Priceless Movie Review: Blu-Ray + DVD Release February 14

Priceless Movie Review

Priceless Movie Review

When I saw the Priceless movie come up in my review queue I wondered what an inspirational film “shining a light into the dark world of human trafficking” would reveal. I mean, how do you do that?

Dubbed a romantic drama, Priceless follows James Stevens (Grammy-award winning singer Joel Smallbone from For King and Country) on a red-eye delivery with a mysterious package. Sketchy. Stevens is troubled, complicated, and in over his head. He realises this once he hears crying coming from the back of his delivery truck. What are those girls doing back there? Now what does he do?

As Stevens bonds with his delivery he’s faced with an impossible choice: deliver the girls to their destination (where they’re expecting to work as domestics to pay off their father’s debt) or…or what? So he drops them off.

The problem is, in his heart he knows what’s going on and compassion compels him to do something. This is where things get gritty. Stevens, with the help of a new friend, dives in headfirst trying to save the girls. He doesn’t know what he’s doing, he doesn’t know what he’ll do next, but he is driven—to the point of risking relationships with his family.

There aren’t any surprises in this indie drama but it does pose important questions we might find easier to ignore.

  • What does love look like?
  • What is my responsibility when I see injustice?
  • What’s a life worth?
  • How far would I go to do what I believe is right?

Answer these questions and you may find yourself in James Stevens’ shoes. Because the truth is, it’s not somebody else’s job to fix the world’s problems, it’s your job and it’s my job. It’s our job to stand up for those with no voice. If you’re a Christian, you may find some motivation from 1 John 3:17. “If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God’s love? It disappears. And you made it disappear.” Or how about Proverbs 25:26, “A good person who gives in to a bad person is a muddied spring, a polluted well.”

So, do I agree with Stevens’ methods to bring about change? In truth I feel conflicted, he used violence and I found it troubling. But was there another way? I don’t know. And if faced with the same situation, would I be brave enough to stand against oppression and do what I know in my heart is right? I hope so.

Priceless reminds us that human/sex trafficking is not something that only happens in other countries, but happens in our country and we all have a responsibility to do something.

Priceless is available today on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD from Amazon and Walmart and available on Digital HD from iTunes.

Priceless Synopsis

Inspired by true events, PRICELESS is a powerful drama/thriller about James Stevens who was, at one time, a good man with a great life—but that was then and this is now. After the tragic death of his wife and losing custody of his little girl, James is at the darkest crossroad of his life. Angry, desperate, and unable to hold down a steady job, he agrees to drive a box truck on a shady, one-time trip cross country for cash—no questions asked. But when he discovers what he is delivering is actually who, he is compelled to save two beautiful and frightened sisters who are unaware of the danger that awaits them.

Can love, strength, and faith redefine his past and change the course of his future? This unlikely hero risks it all to save these women, confront the forces that oppose him and ultimately discover the life he was meant to live.

From the creative minds behind the two-time Grammy Award-winning band for KING & COUNTRY, PRICELESS stars Joel Smallbone (for KING & COUNTRY), Bianca Santos (THE DUFF), Amber Midthunder (“Longmire”) with Jim Parrack (SUICIDE SQUAD, “True Blood”) and David Koechner (ANCHORMAN, “The Goldbergs”). PRICELESS is the first film from the Smallbone Brothers. Ben Smallbone directs from the script by Chris Dowling & Tyler Poelle. The film was produced by Steve Barnett (300). David Smallbone and Luke Smallbone serve as executive producers, and Jacob “Cubbie” Fink is co-producer.

Exquisitely Imperfect: Choosing Life Unfiltered [new book]

Exquisitely Imperfect Choosing Life Unfiltered

The exquisitely imperfect story of Exquisitely Imperfect

In December 2015 I asked by Insight for Living if I would contribute to a woman’s devotional (hint: Exquisitely Imperfect) with a planned publish date of 2016 and if so to choose a topic.

  1. Romance
  2. Procrastination
  3. Self-worth/Self-image
  4. Work/Life Balance

I’ve written for Insight for Living before, even contributed to a similar book a couple years ago, so was happy for the opportunity. I said either procrastination or work/life balance would be great topics, was awarded both, and received my official assignment a few days later. Chapter deadline: March 2016.

Three months pass

My chapter topics were easy in a sense—I had lots to say about both (I’m quite an experienced procrastinator and always catching my balance) and spent most of my writing time conforming to the chapter instructions (16 points in total). I sent them in, received some initial feedback and then…nothing.

Since I work at the Canadian Insight for Living office I could see the women’s devotional book on the schedule so didn’t worry much about the progress. Also since I had submitted my chapters there wasn’t much for me to do anyway—not my book, not my problem (if you know me at all you know I was all talk and on the inside was totally worried about the book never getting published).

Six months pass

In September I received my edited chapters and asked to review them and revise where necessary.

Oh yay! It’s still happening!

Not that I was worried about the book.

I re-submitted my chapters and in October we finalized the chapter titles and extra features.

Four months pass

Exquisitely Imperfect cover

After jumping all around the schedule the “women’s devotional” fell off the plan and a book called Exquisitely Imperfect: Choosing Life Unfiltered went onto the plan for February 2017. Could this be it? (Yes. Yes it was.)

Contributing chapters is a funny experience because you don’t (at least in my experience) receive a lot of information and must trust your editors and publishers for everything. All the pressure is on them to make it happen/work and all the pressure is on you to leave it alone.

Exquisitely Imperfect TOC

I heard the books went to print in January and got my hands on a copy by the end of the month.

My thoughts?

First of all, it feels so nice. The cover is this soft-coated paper and the colours are pretty pastels, which I find relaxing. Second, the chapters go well together. It’s a book about the everyday pressures women feel (from within, from others, from wherever) to have it all together and do it all. There are the topics I wrote about (procrastinating and work/life balance) mixed in with expectations, depression, fear, and self-esteem. It’s emotional, encouraging, and deep. I’m quite impressed.

Exquisitely Imperfect was released February 1, 2017 and is available from Insight for Living. If you purchase a copy I won’t receive royalties but you will support the ministry, so thanks!

Canadian Pacific: Creating a Brand Building a Nation [book review]

Travel Canadian Pacific

If you know anything about Canadian history you know the Canadian Pacific Railway company played a role in shaping it. Marc H. Choko’s Canadian Pacific: Creating a Brand Building a Nation tells the story based on CP’s publicity output—their marketing and graphic design in particular. It’s a unique take on telling a brand story while educating readers on how public and private interests can align for the greater good. In this case, forming a unified Canada.

Being raised in Canada, I learned about CP’s scandalous beginnings from a political point of view. I imagined the private company as the big baddie, trying to monopolize the rail industry by outbidding all competitors and making backroom deals with politicians. While it’s not not what happened, this book adds another side to the story, the part where provinces (NS, NB, BC) refused to join the Canadian Confederation without the promise of a railway linking them to (now) Ontario/Quebec and how the British government wouldn’t/couldn’t fund it. Also added was the HUGE obstacle of the Canadian Shield and Rocky Mountains—and even once CP had the contract they were near bankrupted several times finding ways across these untamed wilds.

Canadian Pacific: Creating a Brand Building a Nation cover

Oh, and if the railway didn’t happen out west then the United States would have annexed BC—the history of the Pacific Northwest (up until 1846 this was Alaska-California under the control of British North America) was interesting in particular as the motivation for keeping British Columbia under British control was for two reasons: 1) it seemed like a shorter route to Asia and 2) gold rush. Those were the only reasons because everyone out east thought the west was worthless.

CP had an uphill battle because this opinion was so prevalent. So the company advertised. They convinced their workers to talk up the west whenever they returned home to their families and communities, they brought in influencers (sorry, travel journalists) and gifted them all-inclusive luxury vacations so they would return to Europe and share their adventures. They built stunning hotels and created a steamship line to lure wealthy travellers across the sea and continent. And over time they even created mid-range accommodation so the new middle class could come too.

Duchess Steamships Newest and Largest

Building a national railway was all well and good but CP was a for-profit company and therefore needed profits. Tourism was one thing, but to keep the rail lines safe and to increase land values they needed more people living out west. So they advertised. They worked with the government. And they built ready-made farms for people.

Because the (eastern) Canadian settlers had such a poor opinion of the west, CP reached out to Americans and Europeans instead, offering amazing deals and door-to-door (ish) travel. This was of interest to me because this is how my great grandparents came to the Canadian prairies—the promise of affordable land, a farm, and a home. I knew they got a good deal on the land but this is a whole other layer to their story.

Own Your Own Home in Canada

For 374 pages of Canadian Pacific: Creating a Brand Building a Nation, take in the history, complexity, and ingenuity of a company created from a prime minister’s vision for a transcontinental railway. Learn how the company overcame devastating obstacles like political scandal, sabotage, financial ruin, the Great Depression, two world wars, recession, competition, and critique by holding on to a clear vision, creative marketing, influential graphic design, and diversification.

One note: I read a PDF review version and must say, I have missed out. I thought this was a marketing book so didn’t mind the digital format but more than half the pages are images of CP advertisements and historical photos. If I had the hardcover I would have enjoyed this book much more. As it stands, it was a joy to read, even if it did take me six months.