Agency

It Takes a Committee

Portrait of a group of panel judges holding score signs

One well-known and frustrating fact about seeing a book finally accepted is the looooooong process. Trust me, literary agents would like to see the process move faster, too.

Believe it or not, the fact that at most large publishers, a proposal must go through several rounds of review before a contract is offered is actually good for the author. Yes, you read that right. It’s good for the author. 

I got dumped
Let me back up to an experience I had writing for a newspaper years ago. I had a pretty good gig writing about real estate. Then, Chris, the editor who hired me, left. 

Soon afterwards, I overheard someone identify me as, “Oh, she’s someone Chris brought on.” 

Her dismissive manner of me and the way she emphasized his name told me my gig wouldn’t last much longer because the new guard wanted to bring on their friends. Assignments from the new guard evaporated within a month. I was fine, though, because I had several other writing gigs at the time and wanted to move away from writing about real estate, anyway. But I might not have felt as cavalier if this had happened while I was writing books.

Strength in numbers
As a book author, you do want your editor to love your work. But you don’t want your editor to be the only person at the publishing house to love your work, even if that advocate is the most powerful editor at that house. 

Why? Because even the top editor may decide to leave, for any number of reasons. Then where are you as an author with your only advocate gone? You may be left as an author with very little support for your current book, which is sure to mean terrible sales numbers and no future contract with that house. Not to mention, terrible sales numbers will ensure a difficult road to a contract with a different house.

All aboard!
The editor who’s excited about you and your work will do everything she can to ensure success for you at each meeting as your proposal makes its way through the chain. When the team of editors, along with sales and marketing people, understand you and your book and are rooting for you, they feel invested in you and your work. Having the team’s support is much better than one editor fighting the good fight alone.

And if your editor does decide to move on, good people at the publishing house will still be left to make your book a success.

Patience is a virtue
Indeed, this is yet another example of how the writing life tries our patience. And to use yet another cliche, good things come to those who wait.

Your turn:

How has being a writer tested your patience?

What is the longest you have waited for a response?

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Laube Agency Signs Saul of Tarsus

(Phoenix, Arizona) Steve Laube, founder of the Steve Laube Agency announced today that the agency has signed Saul of Tarsus to write in various Christian book categories starting with his debut release in Fall 2014.  Saul will be writing under the pen name of Paul, a name with special meaning …

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An Atypical Time in an Agent’s Life

I have enjoyed reading various “typical day” posts lately on other blogs, so I thought instead of sharing a typical day, I’d share an atypical month: Sad News for Us My father-in-law, a Baptist minister, passed away at age 89 after two strokes. While our family is sad to lose …

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So Long, 2013…HELLO, 2014!

2013 was an amazing year full of ups and downs, gain and loss, joy and sadness. I lost 3 dear friends, one of whom was in his 30s, one of whom was just a few years younger than I, and one of whom I’ve known since I was 2 years old. We in the industry lost so many–some, like wonderful agent and friend Lee Hough and the amazing Diann Hunt–far sooner than any of us wished. The joy? They all were solid in their faith in Christ, so we’ll see them again. But saying good-bye is never easy. Thank God for his peace and comfort. And HOPE!

Professionally, it’s been a whiz-bang year. It’s always such fun to discover and sign new clients, and it’s even more fun to see clients, existing and new, find publishing homes! As I’ve walked through the many steps on this publishing journey with clients, from the blissful “We’ve received an offer!” to the turbulent “Whatever made me think I could write??”, I’ve been reminded why I love this industry so much.

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A Year in Review

This year has been one of success and career growth for me. I am humbled and grateful to work with outstanding writers and the best editors in the business.

Challenges

As with every year, the needs and expectations of publishing houses continue to change and grow. Publishers are maintaining and even exceeding past quality to offer readers the best Christian books possible. This means that each year, new writers face more challenges to break in, and established authors must be vigilant in writing fresh stories to meet the criteria of The Steve Laube Agency and the publishers we work with. But the writer who’s willing to work hard and hone craft, and to be cheerful even when times get tough, stands the best chance of successful publication.

Travel

I enjoyed being on faculty at the Florida Christian Writers Conference and ACFW this year. Once again, both conferences proved to be top notch and I enjoyed meeting authors and keeping in touch with publishing friends. ICRS was another highlight, as always, for the same reasons.

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2013 – A Year in Review

by Steve Laube What a year it has been. I’m tempted to write that sentence and leave the rest of this page blank. It would be easier than to remember and recite all that has come to pass. But it is a healthy exercise nonetheless.

Agency Business

The biggest news of all was adding another agent to our group. This past Summer we welcomed Dan Balow to our ranks. He is a fabulous addition and is already making his “agenting” mark. Just don’t talk to him about Cheez-its.

Despite some sudden changes in our industry (see below) we continue to secure publishing deals for our clients. The good news for writers is that content is still king. Without great content there would be no commerce.

The forecast continues to be sunny at our Agency.

The Industry

Random House officially merged with Penguin to form Penguin Random House. Most of the infrastructure changes that would affect us have been completed.

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What Am I Looking For?

I started in Christian publishing in 1983 working in the telemarketing department for David C. Cook Publishers when they were located in Elgin, Illinois.   As a young guy working for a company that had been around for over 100 years, I was in awe.

Starting to work for Steve Laube and with professionals like Karen Ball and Tamela Hancock Murray, I am stunned once again.  We combine for over 100 years of experience in Christian publishing…but at least it is spread around to four people!

My years working in the industry not only have taught me the nuts and bolts of publishing, but also how to treat people.  We are people with specific strengths, gifted by God and passionate about communicating God’s grace and truth to the world.  I am excited to begin the journey.

What am I looking for?

Fiction and non-fiction with a core of great story.  Story is not limited to fiction, just as teaching lessons isn’t limited to non-fiction.   My early days were spent in advertising learning that the best advertising was engaging and interesting…not just information.  So, I have spent a lifetime being affected by stories…and feel that books need to have that element.

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Dan Balow Joins The Steve Laube Agency

by Steve Laube

I am very excited to announce that Dan Balow has joined our agency as the Director of Publishing Development and Literary Agent. This gives us four members of our team, me, Tamela Hancock Murray, Karen Ball, and Dan.

I’ve been looking for ways to increase the services our agency provides to current and potential clients. I have known Dan for 15 years and by adding him to our agency we can expand our role in helping to maximize our client’s sales, work with ministries and organizations to develop their publishing efforts, and expand our reach internationally. Dan’s strengths are his understanding of book marketing, what it takes to be successful in the current publishing environment and how all the pieces of the publishing “puzzle” fit together. Our team has expertise in all facets of the industry, writer, bookseller, editor, marketer, agent, executive management, and publisher.

Dan is a 30 year veteran of the Christian publishing industry. He was the director of marketing for Tyndale House Publishers working with authors Francine Rivers, James Dobson, Josh McDowell, Charles Colson and many others.

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Attract Attention…(Part Three)

 

BP number one was “Be Professional.” Number two was “Be Passionate.” The third BP is one I like a lot: Be Plugged In. You need to be the expert on not just your book, but on the readers, the competition, and the craft. Doing that will enable you to equip your team! So…

Know your audience

It’s rare to find a book–or an author–that will be read by everyone. You book should have an “ideal” reader, and the more you keep that person in mind, the stronger your book will be. Get to know your reader. Develop a description of him or her. Find out the following about your reader:

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A is for Advance

by Steve Laube

Whenever I lecture about money the room becomes unusually quiet. Instead of a common restlessness from listeners there is a thrumming impatience to reveal the punch line. The punch line that declares every writer will be rich.

Now that I have our attention let’s turn to the topic of the day. The Advance. This is defined as the money a publisher pays to the author in “advance” of the publication of the finished book. We read about the seven-figure advances in the news because they are unusual and quite substantial. The amount given to everyone else can be rather different. (Read the article where Rachelle Gardner answers the question “What is the Typical Advance.”)

Payout Schedule

The money is not given all at once. There is usually an amount given for signing the book contract and the balance comes at various stages of the writing process. Some pay half on signing, half on acceptance of an acceptable manuscript. Some pay one-third on signing, one-third on acceptance, and one-third on publication. There can be other triggers to create payments like an acceptable proposal for subsequent books in a multi-book deal. We even had one highly unusual situation where the total amount of the advance was divided up over the course of 15 months and the publisher paid the author monthly.

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