Agency

Don’t Just Do It

Dont 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 our culture, such as “like”, ”um”, “I mean” and ”you know.” 

I simply do not like the word “just” when it is used to place limits on or minimize something we are doing.  It might be unintentional, but many of us use the word to lower the bar:

“I just want to go to church and sit quietly and enjoy the service.”

“I just want to go to work and have no one bother me.”

“I just want to attend that meeting without someone asking me to speak up.”

“I just want to retire.”

Can you imagine someone stating, ”I just want to be a missionary”?  Devoting your entire life, both present and future to God’s will and work, giving up everything you planned in your life for the service of God’s kingdom seems a bit larger than “just” another path in life. 

Now imagine someone who “just wants to be a writer.”  It sounds like a person who aspires to write ad copy for Craigslist.

Purpose, passion, energy and total commitment are what it takes to be good at anything.

Many years ago, I decided to never “just” do anything (except for mundane things like getting dressed, washing dishes, taking out the garbage and mowing the lawn of course). My wife will often precede something she is about to say that contains the dreaded word with an apologetic disclaimer.  I might have gone too far with this entire thing, but it is too late to turn back now.  (Dedicated to the Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose)

Many years ago, as a way to remember to not “just” do anything, I wrote myself a note and pinned it up next to my desk.  Here it is:

I Love Mondays

  • They are the beginning of an opportunity to do something significant. It might the start of the best week of my life.
  • Do important stuff.
  • When confusion reigns, remember what is important.
  • Harness creativity, intuition and wisdom to beat back ambiguity and randomness.
  • Have fun.
  • Do it all for the glory of God.

Who in their right mind would actually look forward to Mondays? (and not “just” because Steve Laube’s blog post is on Monday)

Zig Ziglar said, “Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.”

So, don’t “just” write…write with everything in you, but first, maybe write yourself a note.

What drives you?

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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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Attract Attention…in a GOOD Way!

I travel to writers’ conferences all over the country. I love being surrounded by others who love words and want to serve God through their writing. But over the years I’ve seen a number of interactions between agents/editors and conferees that were…well, less than positive.  It was clear the conferee was passionate about his/her work, and that the writer was looking on this encounter as THE chance to make his/her dreams come true. Unfortunately, it was equally evident that the agent/editor wanted nothing more than to escape.

One of the workshops I taught at the Write! Canada conference a week ago was focused on attracting agents’ and editors’ attention. I asked editors and agents to share tips, based on what they’d actually encountered, to equip writers for positive interactions with them. I was delighted at the number of responses I received. So, what with ICRS just around the corner, and writers’ conference season in full swing, I thought I’d share some of those tips with you. They fall into four categories, which I’m calling them the BPs of Happy Editors and Agents.

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Really, You Don’t Have to Ask

Over the years I’ve seen lists of questions you’re supposed to ask an agent before signing a contract. Some of the questions are excellent. But I believe if you ask others, at least at the stage when the agent is discussing the possibility of representation, you may have not done the right research ahead of time. I culled these questions from a number of lists on the Internet. Most of these questions appeared on more than one list.

Can you give me a list of authors from whom I may ask for references? A quick trip to most agents’ web sites will tell you about the authors they represent. The Steve Laube Agency site lists all our authors. I’m always glad when authors talk to one another, and I often find new writers based on the recommendations of current clients. But in my view, asking for a list of references is off-putting unless you want to talk to another client before making your decision. If you are unsure of that agency, don’t send them your proposal until you know you’d be thrilled to work with them.

Who do you represent? See Question One. There are exceptions. Some agencies prefer not to make their client lists public and when speaking to them, this question makes sense. But if their client list is already on their web site, your question might give the wrong impression.

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