A former marketer, she's a writer herself. A poetry anthology she edited, DARE TO DREAM ... CHANGE THE WORLD was just published by Kane Miller Books and includes work from Jane Yolen, Ellen Hopkins, and J. Patrick Lewis.
The Herman Agency was started 13 years ago by Ronnie Ann Herman, who had a 20-year career at Random House and Penguin. Ronnie is Jill's agent, and she asked Jill to become an agent three years ago. Jill was an English major at Stanford and got an MBA at University of Chicago, and ran her own marketing company before she took time off and had children.
"I'm one of those people who had a mid-life new career," she says.
Her clients include Robin Mellom, Ralph Fletcher, and Janet Gurtler.
Advice for pre-published writers: To sell a book to a publisher and to sell it in a store or online, you have to have a great concept and know your craft. Consider many different concepts before you choose which one you're working on. Look at comparable books and make sure yours is different.
"Do your research. When you go out and try to get an agent, you can say, 'These are the other books and this is why mine is different.'"
On the changing industry: She was disheartened that some writers are being asked to change their names because of low sales. It's also important not to just take jobs (such as ghostwriting), but to make career decisions that leave you time to write and illustrate books.
Don't make errors online: She would have signed three clients except for their online behavior. Don't badmouth people, don't be vicious. "Everyone's reading that. It stays there forever ... why do we all have to say everything we feel and put it online?"
Also: "Untag yourself when you're drunk at a party and someone tags the photo."
On self-publishing: If people keep putting books out there for $2.99, that's what people think books are worth. Think really hard before you do that.
Some of her clients' books:
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