Agency

Unsolicited Proposals: aka “The Slush Pile”

All literary agents receive dozens of proposal each week. Some in the mail and some via email. Last week was a slow week, only 30 unsolicited proposals arrived. (Unsolicited means proposals that are not from our existing clients. We get a number of those each week too.)  The variety can be rather astounding. We don’t mean to be mean about it, but sometimes you have to find the humor in these situations.

There are myriad of email submissions that simply ignore our posted guidelines regarding email submissions such as “Please do not copy and paste your entire manuscript into the body of your email.” Yes it has happened.

Despite saying we don’t represent poetry I once received a PDF attachment with 900 pages of poetry in it. The author felt it was so good I would ignore my stated preferences and make an exception.

Or the poor soul that failed to proofread their email before sending this sentence, “I would like to send you my quarry letter….”

Or this opening sentence, “I found your name on the inner net.”

Nor does it include those that find our name in a directory somewhere and just pick up the phone and call without doing their research. I once received a call that went something  like this:

Agency: This is the Steve Laube Agency…
Caller: What kind of agency are you?
Agency: We are a literary agency.
Caller: What does that mean?
Agency: It means we represent books to publishers on behalf of our clients and manage our client’s careers.
Caller: Oh good. I do comic strips…and they are really unique…  [caller’s voice gets faster and louder as they talk]
Agency: Well, we don’t represent artists or comic strip artists.
Caller: But I’m a philosopher too! ….. [further explanation followed]
Agency: Well, we [caller interrupts]
Caller: And I’m also a musician with over 500 songs to my credit.
Agency: Unfortunately we do not represent musicians at this time.
Caller: But I was named Rock musician of the year…
Agency: We’re sorry but it does not appear that our agency would be a good fit for you.
Caller: You want to listen to my stuff for free on Myspace?
Agency: I don’t see how that would be a good use of our time.
Caller: Someday someone will discover it and make millions.
Agency: We wish you the best in all your endeavors…

Or the time we received a call from an aspiring author who was a psychic who had an “amazing” personal story to tell…oh, and by the way, they also have two novels done and five children’s books ready and waiting.

Don’t get me wrong! I’m not complaining. What I’m trying to say is that the simple act of reading our blog and following an agency’s guidelines can make you like so much better than those who do not take that time. We’ve written about rejection many times and no agent takes the process lightly. But a little understanding and self education would make every writer’s experience while approaching an agent a little more tolerable.

 

(an earlier version of this post ran on January 6, 2010. The new picture above is not from my office!)

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Happy 10th Anniversary!

by Steve Laube It is hard to believe that this weekend marks ten years since I made the decision to open The Steve Laube Agency in 2004. I can honestly say it has been a blessing to have the opportunity to serve the industry and our authors in this capacity. It …

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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 …

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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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