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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Why an In-the-Know Agent is Your Best Partner

Even in the tightest market, new opportunities develop. Not only can authors keep up with these opportunities by being well-connected themselves, but this is just one part of your career where partnering with a great agent is key. Why? Because editors don’t always put out a call to every writers’ …

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Don’t Just Do It

I don’t like the word “just”. Don’t get me wrong, “just” is a fine word, especially when used in a triple-word space in Scrabble.  It has all sorts of good uses and meanings…even used to fill time when we are thinking, along with the other great words and phrases of …

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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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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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Three Myths About an Agent’s Acceptance

by Steve Laube

You’ve worked hard. You wrote a great book. You pitched it just right and the literary agent has called you saying they want to represent you and your project. Hooray! But there are some misunderstandings or myths about what happens next.

1.  Your Book Will Soon Be Published

Just because an agent has said yes doesn’t guarantee success. Nor does it speed up the inexorable process. Remember that while the agent will work hard in getting your work in front of the right publishers and deal with any objections or questions that come, it can happen that an idea is rejected by every publisher.

In addition the acquisitions process at a publisher is very process oriented. When I was an acquisitions editor we tried to have a monthly publications board meeting. I was given time to present about eight titles at that meeting. Thus beforehand we had to decide which titles were going to be pitched. Often I would bump an idea to the next meeting because another one took its place. For the author and the agent this means waiting and waiting some more. Other businesses may make their decisions more quickly, but publishing has always worked in this methodical manner. Of course there are exceptions, but usually at the expense of someone else’s project that has now been bumped to the next pub board meeting.

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High Maintenance Agent?

We’ve all heard of high maintenance authors. They whine unnecessarily about covers, edits, and deadlines, make impossible demands, and otherwise exhibit other diva-ish behavior.

But what about your agent? You want a partner who will work with you but not interfere. Someone who will encourage you but not be so intrusive that you get nervous. An experienced friend who will give you tips on how to create a more effective story but not insist her ideas or better or — Horrors! — try to rewrite your book.

I always talk to my authors about the level of back and forth they want and need and I tailor my efforts accordingly. I’m not perfect, but I do my best to achieve effective communication with each author. Everyone understands that the number of phone calls and emails will ebb and flow according to where we are in the publishing process.

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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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Attract Attention (Part Two)

Wasn’t it fun to read Steve’s observations about ICRS? There is so much going on this time of year in our industry, and so many opportunities to spend time with other writers, with editors, and with agents. I love networking with these wonderful folks. But even more than that, I love seeing writers have meaningful and positive interactions with editors and agents.

With that in mind, here’s the second set of BPs for Happy Editor and Agents:

#2: Be Passionate!

About your message: Let your passion for your message show—and let it make you the go-to person for your audience. When folks out there think of your topic, your face should come to mind. Learn what you need to learn, and use social media to share that knowledge with others. Become known for expertise in whatever area you’re writing about. Build your tribe, but do it by meeting people’s needs.
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