How Book Shepherds Can Help Authors

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 At the top of his list is Shel Horowitz who explains his role: “Basically, I walk unpublished writers through the process of becoming well-published authors.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.”

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

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

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 or call him at 313-405-7664.

Simon Warwick-Smith of 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

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.

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;

06001 Brian Jud;

07930 Barbara Kimmel;

20191 Sam Horn;

22314 Mike Vezo;

30188 Bobbie Christmas;

45701 Janice Phelps;

68137 Lisa Pelto;

77041 Rita Mills;

78704 Tanya Hall;

80015 Judith Briles, PhD;

85226 Linda Radke;

87505 Ellen Kleiner;

89509 Jacqueline Simonds;

90212 Ellen Reid;

90245 Jan King;

91304 Alan Gadney;

92111 Lindee Rochelle

92653 Sharon Goldinger;

93103 Gail Kearns;

94304 John Eggen;

94801 Peter Beren;

95437 Cynthia Frank;

95476 Simon Warwick-Smith;

Canada Barbara Florio Graham;

Canada Serena Williamson Andrew Ph.D;

Malaysia Shum F.P.;

New Zealand/Australia Maria Carlton;

Singapore Patrick Ang;

South Africa Val Waldeck;

UK Mindy Gibbins-Klein;

Book publicist Scott Lorenz is President of Westwind Communications, a public relations and marketing firm that has a special knack for working with authors to help them get all the publicity they deserve and more. Lorenz works with bestselling authors and self-published authors promoting all types of books, whether it’s their first book or their 15th book. He’s handled publicity for books by CEOs, CIA Officers, Navy SEALS, Homemakers, Fitness Gurus, Doctors, Lawyers and Adventurers. His clients have been featured by Good Morning America, FOX & Friends, CNN, ABC News, New York Times, Nightline, TIME, PBS, LA Times, USA Today, Washington Post, Woman’s World, & Howard Stern to name a few.

Learn more about Westwind Communications’ book marketing approach at or contact Lorenz at or by phone at 734-667-2090. Follow Lorenz on Twitter



  1. says

    I’ve loved the work that I’ve done with hundreds of authors–some right out of the ground with the “I have an idea” to the ones thes that work in with a 700 page tome that needs “massive slicing and dicing” to the ones that come in with a “fairly clean” manuscript. Each is unique–one of the most critical elements of guiding a book is to truly “get” the author’s voice; to be able to literally morph into the Vision so that the shepherding job is united.

    At The Book Shepherd, creating the Author’s Game Plan so that she or he truly understands their audience and the benefits the book/words/word brings is as critical as deliverly a quality book. Authoring is a business and my clients have got to get that as we progress through the creation and delivery of their masterpiece…and then, of course, the marketing–time to work the butt off time.
    Judith Briles recently posted..Book Awards Are Beckoning to YOU …My Profile