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.

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!

Need Eggs? The Little Hen Homestead Delivers!

the little hen homestead

In August I’m thrilled to publish an article in Modern Agriculture featuring a local egg farmer called The Little Hen Homestead.

I don’t remember when but I found this little business on Instagram and was intrigued.

The Little Hen Homestead was started about a year ago, by a little girl who had a vision. She wanted to start her own farm of raising chickens from wee babies and nurturing and watching them grow. Now, she sells the eggs from her beloved birds to people in the Lower Mainland. She is passionate about building relationships with her customers. She believes that while the egg starts with a hen, it goes a long way, feeding families, and developing the local community. Her business is centred around Jesus: glorifying him and sharing the love of Christ through a dozen of eggs 🙂 (source)

When I see a neat story I file it away in my notebook for such a time when I need an article to pitch. So when it was time for a local agriculture with a modern spin…this was the obvious choice.

In my opinion the story is great—it has everything. A young girl with an entrepreneurial spirit, an egg-delivery service…by bike, bird funerals, and the belief she can make a difference one dozen eggs at a time.

She makes me believe I can do it too.

The Little Hen Homestead makes me think I can sell eggs.

Unfortunately, my place came with remnants of an old barn and chicken coop, so it’s easy to picture. The good news is the coop is more like remnants of a once-thriving hen home. Now, it’s a jungle of weeds and blackberries and the place where nettles seem happiest.

But—no problem! Because I’m inspired!



My intrepid niece and nephew showed up one Saturday prepared to battle the weeds. I followed suit and we spent the day clearing the coop.

It looked so nice. For a few weeks. And then time passed. And the nettles came back.

Do chickens eat nettles? Blackberries? How about alders…

Perhaps I’ll stick to writing about chickens.

Check out the article online or sign up for your free print subscription of Modern Agriculture

Five Things I Learned About Rice Farming in Abbotsford

rice farming in abbotsford

It has been a while since I came up with a good top five list. However, rice farming in Abbotsford is such an interesting topic it has inspired my list-making self and I’m back in business.

But first, if you live under a rock and haven’t seen the article yet please go read it on Tourism Abbotsford’s website! It struck a chord and has (to date) more than 450 likes and 250 some shares—so, people like rice farming huh? Me too!

My initial assignment was to cover locally brewed sake (rice wine) but after my pre-interview I had to go a different direction. You see, the sake is made in Vancouver—interesting but not local enough. The great news was the rice for the sake is grown in Abbotsford so I redirected and got to work.

Five Things I Learned About Rice Farming in Abbotsford

  1. First things first, I learned it’s possible to grow rice in Abbotsford. I didn’t know that. And not just sake rice, there is table rice and ornamental rice too. Farmers Masa and Yukiko Shiroki have grown rice behind Sumas Way for the past five years. Now on four acres, they’re expanding their rice varieties and are teaching local farmers about the craft
  2. Second, I learned this is the most northerly rice production region in the world. Also the only rice paddy in Canada
  3. Third, I learned rice is started from seed in greenhouses then transplanted to the fields when the sprouts are about six inches tall. This happens with a specialized planting machine not available in Canada. The Shiroki family imported all their machinery from Japan in order to farm here. The planting machine is quite an interesting contraption. It takes trays of rice seedlings and plants them one-by-one in perfect rows. So cool
  4. Fourth, I learned rice fields are flooded for the entire growing season. Our climate in the Fraser Valley helps (rain, rain, rain) but water must also be added. Beside the field there is a ditch. The ditch water is pumped into the fields when necessary
  5. Fifth, I learned water fowl LOVE rice seeds. Love. They attack the fields just after planting and dig around the mud in search of delicious rice seeds. They can smell them or something. The ducks and geese wreak havoc on the fields but migrate in early summer so are a temporary disturbance. Once they clear out the fields are replanted by hand where the birds clear cut

Visiting this farm and learning about rice growing was an incredible experience. I have never seen anything like this and look forward to trying homegrown rice. And nearby-made sake.

Run for Water Abbotsford Expects 4,500 Participants

Run for Water Abbotsford Race 2015

I’ve lived in the Fraser Valley for a few years so I’ve heard of Run for Water Abbotsford before. I even know a few people who have participated.

Based on observation and deduction I had an inkling of what Run for Water was about but when I was assigned to write about this year’s event highlighting the 10km trail race I was eager to learn more.

Whenever I research an article I read everything I can find on the topic—what other people have wrote, what sort of news it has already created, and who would make an interesting interview. And I brainstorm new angles, thinking of questions someone who didn’t know anything about the event would ask.

Run for Water Abbotsford 2016

After I felt acclimatized to Run for Water in general I contacted Peg Peters, the not-for-profit’s executive director. We spoke on the phone and his voice radiated passion, enthusiasm, and love for the project. This annual race funds well drilling in Ethiopia and this year the village of Sasiga will benefit with 10 wells.

Run for Water Impact Wells

When not organizing race details, Peters visits schools in the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley teaching students about global citizenship, what it means to give back, and how to respond to the water crisis in Africa.

I love the connection between running and being thirsty. For most of us, running water isn’t something we worry about but when we run, we feel real thirst. We would give anything for a drink. In a small way, running a 10km or a half marathon helps us begin to understand the difference digging a well in a drought-ridden land will make.

When registering, runners agree to raise different amounts based on which run they’re participating in. Every dollar raised goes towards the water projects as local sponsors and the Run for Water board cover all event costs.

Run for Water Impact 1

This year’s race happens on May 28 and 29 with 4,500 participants expected. There is still time to register to run or volunteer and of course, you can always donate towards the well project.

Run for Water website