by Steve Laube
“Bring the books, especially the parchments,” is a sentence in 2 Timothy 4:13 that has teased readers for 2,000 years. What books did the Apostle Paul want to read while waiting for trial? Theology? History? How-to? (Maybe a little escape reading? Pun intended.)
Another writer chimed in a while ago by saying “Of making many books there is no end.” (Ecclesiastes 12:12) And if we read the statistics he wasn’t kidding. 200,000+ traditionally published in the United States alone last year.
And yet there is an allure to the stories of great novelists and a fascination in the brilliance of deep thinkers. It is what drew me to the book industry in the first place having been a lifelong reader and a burgeoning collector of my own library.
I can safely say that the allure and fascination remains unabated. I’ve had and continue to have the honor and privilege of working with some of the finest minds and talented writers in our industry. The photo above is from my office showing every book we have represented. Hundreds of amazing books by amazing authors.
Meanwhile I am still searching for the next great story, the next great concept, the next great writer. So, to answer the question, “What are you looking for?” I will attempt to clarify a few things.
Our Door is Always Open
Unsolicited proposals are always welcome. We sift through hundreds of inquiries every year. My only request is that each person try their best to follow our guidelines on our web site. It would astound you how many fail that simple request.
We Primarily Serve the Christian Market
We make no apology for specializing in books written from a Christian worldview. That means we sell books wherever publishers are receptive to books from that perspective. Usually those are Christian publishing companies. But we can sell books to the general market…if that publisher is interested in the content of the book our client has created.
We won’t represent books that are contrary to a Christian worldview. Recently I received a proposal claiming their novel included “vivid sex, graphic torture, romance, comedy….” Another proposed a non-fiction book that redefined sin as something that is actually unbiblical and should not be taught. Obviously neither author had done their homework regarding our agency.
I’m Looking for Fiction
Note that I am a very eclectic reader which reflects my work as an agent. I represent authors who write in the following genres: Women’s fiction, romance, thriller, suspense, romantic suspense, literary, military, historical (all eras), contemporary, science-fiction, fantasy, supernatural, YA… in other words, every genre published in the industry.
I’m looking for unique storylines with a well refined craft. If something is 80% ready I’ll probably reject it. In school a grade score of 80 would be a low “B.” Our industry is look for the A+.
I’m Looking for Non-Fiction
My eclectic tastes are exhibited by the types of non-fiction books and authors represented. Christian Living, biography, memoir, apologetics, theology, bible study, reference, health, finance, self-help, psychology, grief, suffering, marriage, family, women’s, men’s, philosophy, church life, devotional, inspirational, social issues, politics, parenting, music, and art. The subjects are vast and the opportunities endless.
I am looking for unique ideas by great writers. But as the market has changed, so has some of the demands on the non-fiction author. Your project has to be more than an extended magazine article. It has to have something special that will make the major publisher jump at the chance to invest in you and your work. It can be your platform. It can be the power of your idea. It can be that your writing is unique and compelling. And if you can bring all three I’m confident we could find you a publishing partner.
A Limit to My Expertise
Please do not send your children’s picture book ideas. Yes, I have represented some, but it is not a marketing in which I claim expertise. I can negotiate the contract, but evaluating whether your material is age-appropriate or if your illustrations are top notch is not where I can serve you best.
Please do not send me your cookbook ideas. I may look like I know how to eat, but it doesn’t mean I know the first thing about cooking.
A Limit to My Exceptions
It is a little aggravating when someone sends me their kids book with the first sentence “I know you say you don’t want Children’s picture books, but I think you will make an exception with mine.” Asking for an exception is bold but it is also a waste of time for both the author and for me.
Hard Copy versus E-mail
You can send your proposal to me via email (see our guidelines). But if you send it to me via hard copy with a SASE I guarantee you will get a personal response. The danger of the email inbox is that it gets crowded quickly and your project slowly scrolls off the screen and can very well be forgotten. I try to go through email submissions but hard copy proposals always get reviewed and sit on my desk until I review them myself. I’m aware this is rather old-school, but it works for me. It is your choice of which way you want to send your project to my attention.
However, note that this is unique to me, Steve Laube, at our agency. The other agents are quite comfortable with email submissions.