Every now and then it is good for an agent to update what they are looking for in proposals from authors we consider representing.
First and foremost, my primary connections are in the Christian publishing market, so we need to start there, but we can expand to the general market in certain circumstances.
For me, I am mainly looking for Christian non-fiction works for adults, but I will look at some unique fiction writers who can tell a great story.
I am not the best choice for formula romance novels or children’s books.
For personal enjoyment and illumination, I read certain Christian Living books, but also non-Christian biographies, history and business books. I know the market reads wider than that…not to mention that the majority of buyers are not boomer males like me. Most people in publishing are stretched beyond their personal preferences and if they are not, they should!
Since agents need to view the world through the eyes of publishers, we ask questions of potential author/clients that are consistent with publisher requirements. With that in mind, other than compelling writing, here are three other things I am looking for in authors:
- Credibility: You need to be perceived as qualified to write on the topic of your book, especially non-fiction. Theology books are written by respected theologians, apologetics books written by respected apologists, nutrition and exercise books by nutritionists and exercise gurus, etc. Even if you are an excellent writer, you need to have the credentials accompanying whatever you might create.
- Focus: Pick a category to write and stick to it. Very few authors can navigate both fiction and non-fiction successfully and if they do, they are usually successful in one before trying the other. Just because you can do both doesn’t mean you should write in both.
- Marketing: Great writing still counts, but you won’t get far without a great start to personal marketing. Lack of an author platform will be a problem down the line, so get started now if you haven’t already.
Finally, should you be published by a traditional publisher, the first book you wrote may not be the first one published. Agent and author agendas are not always publisher agendas at a particular point in time.
Just like you, the agents with The Steve Laube Agency have gotten to this point in our lives by exercising our gifts, dealing with disappointment and learning to trust God more and more each day. I consistently pray that God grant me the wisdom to make wise decisions and serve authors well.