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I recommend authors look into hiring a book shepherd for a current or upcoming writing and publishing project. A book shepherd is someone whose expertise in books and publishing will help you throughout the entire book process. From cover art, editing, dealing with Amazon to locating a printer, a book shepherd will assist you from start to finish.

I am a proponent of using a book shepherd because there are so many things to know about in the book publishing process and so much is swiftly changing its extremely difficult to keep up with it all. It takes a person with experience to guide you along the way and that’s what a book shepherd does. Hiring a guide is a concept that’s been working for humankind for thousands of years. If you were going to a foreign land and wanted to see and do as much as you could would you read a guide book or hire someone to show you? Consider yourself fortunate if you can afford a book shepherd as it is well worth the money spent.

Dan Poynter recently compiled a comprehensive list of book shepherds. At the top of his list is Shel Horowitz who explains his role: “Basically, I walk unpublished writers through the process of becoming well-published authors. I start by helping them determine if they should publish traditionally, self-publish, or subsidy publish–and then help them complete all the steps for their choice, then work with them on the marketing as the book nears completion.” frugalmarketing.com

Tanya Hall is a unique book shepherd in that she works for a national publisher/distributor. “So instead of working in a vacuum without any up-to-the-minute feedback on trends, pitches, etc like most book shepherds operate, I have the luxury of a sales force and team of experts behind me to guide the direction I give to my clients. Most of our clients “in development” go through an editorial project development phase, followed by any number of services ranging from design to printing to (if accepted for publication/distribution by our review committee) distribution and marketing.” For more information, visit her website greenleafbookgroup.com.

Bobbie Christmas explains that her book shepherding style is rooted in an editing background. “After twenty years of editing magazines, newspapers, and corporate communications, I opened Zebra Communications in 1992 and specialized in editing books. As self-publishing grew and became an excellent way for consultants and other entrepreneurs to promote themselves and their businesses, I heard horror stories about otherwise intelligent people who made terrible decisions that cost them money and time and in the end often embarrassed them, rather than helping them get their books out to the public. I realized my clients needed more than editorial services, so I added book shepherding to my offerings.” Bobbie’s website is www.zebraeditor.com.

Mike Ball, award winning syndicated columnist and author of three books, offers unique assistance to new authors from his position on the front lines of the publishing wars. “Hey, it can be complicated, time consuming and downright confusing,” says Ball. “I just helped out an elderly author who got completely flummoxed by the forms Amazon threw at him. I understand it can be a daunting task for anyone. That’ why I am happy to assist for a reasonable hourly fee.” Find Mike at writeittight.com or call him at 313-405-7664.

Simon Warwick-Smith of www.warwickassociates.net says, “We are a one-stop shop, from cover and interior design to physical printing, and eBooks, to sales, marketing and publicity. Been in business for 20 years with a long list of satisfied clients”

Rita Mills says, “I don’t much care for the term ‘book shepherd’ as I feel what I do is more like herding cats than docile sheep. People come to me with either an idea or a manuscript and I project manage the process and assign a freelancer for an ala carte service as needed. Some just come to me with a manuscript that needs editing so they can take it to a traditional publisher, and some want me to take on the whole project from manuscript to marketing. I work with 30+ freelancers (some of whom I have worked with over 20 years) who do all kinds of editing, design, PR, marketing, indexing, ghostwriting, grant writing, etc.

I know my people’s skill set and can assign the individual with the specific genre/skills needed. For instance, someone who might be good at editing a nonfiction title might not be good with a fiction title or a children’s book. I also specialize in children’s picture books and I have portfolios on upwards of 300 illustrators. I have packaged roughly 450 titles since my years as the managing editor of an academic press at the University of Houston. I left there in 1997 to start my company, The Book Connection. My projects have ranged from back-of-the-room sales to high-end coffee table books. I am also a print broker, and print worldwide depending upon the need and goals involved in a project” For further information on Rita and her services, please visit her website bookconnectiononline.com.

“One of the biggest challenges in writing, publishing and marketing a book is to know what to do when, and how to do each step,” says Beth Barany, a book shepherd, creative business consultant for authors and publishers, and an award-winning novelist. Beth says that authors come to her because they need customized support for wherever they may be in the process, whether it’s brainstorming sessions to overcome writers block for writing a novel, figuring out how to publish their helpful nonfiction book, or getting support and gaining ease with social media marketing for their mystery novel. A big advocate for self-publishing, she works with her authors to help them write, publish and market the book through the channels that makes the most sense for their overall goals, timing and budget, including traditional publishing. Beth believes that authors have more choices than ever to create a tailored book for their audiences and that it’s an exciting time to be an author entrepreneur. To find more about Beth Barany, and to sign up for a complimentary 30-minute session, go to bethbarany.com.

Linda F. Radke of Five Star Publications explains, “At Five Star Publications we have specialized in producing and marketing books since 1985. Our talented staff of editors, writers, illustrators, graphic designers, and publicity specialists is available to help with every aspect of publishing and promoting your book. Utilizing a network of experts in every aspect of publishing and publicity, Five Star Publications works closely with you every step of the way. Call us as soon as you start writing your book or at any point during the process of producing and promoting your book. We provide all the services, guidance, and ongoing support you need to successfully master every aspect of the publishing process. Once you contact us, we’ll be pleased to provide a proposal tailored to your specific project. Since every project is different in scope and needs, your time frames and costs will be handled on an individual basis.”

The Bottom Line: If you can afford to spend a few hundred to a few thousand dollars on a book shepherd, I highly suggest you do so as it will help save your sanity! There are so many exciting changes in the book publishing business it’s practically impossible to keep up with them all. The book shepherd will help you through the entire process or just a piece of the process where you need it. Check out this audio interview about book shepherds I did with Clark Covington at this link,

Be sure to check out Dan Poynter’s list of book shepherds below and get in touch with the book shepherd of your choice.

Zip Code/Country, Name, Email, Website

01035 Shel Horowitz shel@PrincipledProfit.com; www.frugalmarketing.com

06001 Brian Jud brianjud@bookmarketing.com; www.bookmarketingworks.com

07930 Barbara Kimmel barbara@nextdecade.com; www.nextdecade.com

20191 Sam Horn Sam@SamHorn.com; www.SamHorn.com

22314 Mike Vezo mvezo@mac.com; www.HelpUPublish.com

30188 Bobbie Christmas bobbie@zebraeditor.com; www.zebraeditor.com

45701 Janice Phelps authors@janicephelps.com; www.janicephelps.com

68137 Lisa Pelto lisa@conciergemarketing.com; www.conciergemarketing.com

77041 Rita Mills rita.mills@comcast.net; www.bookconnectiononline.com

78704 Tanya Hall tanya@greenleafbookgroup.com; www.greenleafbookgroup.com

80015 Judith Briles, PhD judith@briles.com; www.TheBookShepherd.com

85226 Linda Radke info@FiveStarPublications.com; www.FiveStarPublications.com

87505 Ellen Kleiner blessingwy@aol.com; www.blessingway.com

89509 Jacqueline Simonds jcsimonds@beaglebay.com; www.beaglebay.com

90212 Ellen Reid bookshep@mac.com; www.bookshep.com

90245 Jan King jan@janbking.com; www.janbking.com

91304 Alan Gadney info@onebookpro.com; www.onebookpro.com

92111 Lindee Rochelle Lindee@LRochelle.com www.penchantforpenning.com

92653 Sharon Goldinger pplspeak@att.net; www.detailsplease.com/peoplespeak

93103 Gail Kearns Gail@topressandbeyond.com; www.topressandbeyond.com

94304 John Eggen John@MissionMarketingMentors.com; www.missionmarketingmentors.com

94801 Peter Beren peterberen@aol.com; www.peterberen.com

95437 Cynthia Frank cynthia@cypresshouse.com; www.cypresshouse.com

95476 Simon Warwick-Smith Bunyip@vom.com; www.warwickassociates.net

Canada Barbara Florio Graham BFG@SimonTeakettle.com; www.SimonTeakettle.com

Canada Serena Williamson Andrew Ph.D info@bookcoachpress.com; www.bookcoachpress.com

Malaysia Shum F.P. shumfp@pd.jaring.my; www.authorpreneur.asia

New Zealand/Australia Maria Carlton maria@marukibooks.com; www.marukibooks.com

Singapore Patrick Ang patrick.anglh@yahoo.com.sg

South Africa Val Waldeck vwaldeck@telkomsa.net; www.valwaldeck.com

UK Mindy Gibbins-Klein mindy@bookmidwife.com; www.bookmidwife.com