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It Takes a Committee

by Tamela Hancock Murray

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?

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

by Tamela Hancock Murray

businesswoman on the phone

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’ loop when they need proposals. Most don’t have time to become inundated with lots of proposals that won’t work. Instead, editors go to their friends, the agents. An experienced agent with a healthy list of talented authors will send editors appropriate proposals.  

A well-connected agent with a stellar agency is likely to learn:

When there is hole in an editor’s schedule. Writers miss deadlines for many reasons. That’s when your agent can help you fill that hole. This can be the start, or continuation of, a fabulous relationship between you and a grateful editor.

About a new line. Agents are often the first outside of a publishing house to learn about a new line. This can help you be among the first authors to submit a proposal.

About unexpected needs. Editors will often let agents know they are expecting to need certain categories of books in the near future. This knowledge also gives you a chance to be an early contender.

That a house is changing direction. Publishers’ web sites and Amazon listings are informative but even the most up to date only reveal what has just happened. You want to look to the future because your book will be published in the future. That’s why, based on a web site, it may seem like a great idea to submit, say, a chick lit book to a house. But if that house has decided to move in the direction of WWII novels, your agent is more likely than any of your other business partners to know this. Your agent can keep you from submitting a fantastic proposal — fantastic for last year.

A key person is leaving. Just one key person’s departure may not only affect individual authors, but might even impact the future direction of a publishing house. Knowing personnel changes sooner rather than later will help you stay ahead in the game.

This doesn’t mean agents, even extraordinary ones, are the first to learn every bit of important news — but we are privy to quite a bit. And this does not mean that just because an author is among the first to submit work, that her work will be accepted over proposals arriving later. But being in the know early is still just one of many good reasons to partner with a great agent.

Your turn:

What are some other reasons you think it’s a good idea to partner with a wonderful agent?

Have you ever been able to submit a work early based on your agent’s inside knowledge?

Or do you disagree? Do you think authors are just as effective as agents in learning news early?

What About Medium Stuff?

by Dan Balow

Asphalt Road

Today I stand in support of medium stuff.

There is no argument that big important things deserve our undivided attention. There seems to be some disagreement over small stuff…do we sweat it or not? According to the Stan Jantz and Bruce Bickel’s book, God is in the Small Stuff, we probably need to be paying close attention to those things.

I am concerned with those things in the middle…the medium stuff. There are no books or seminars on medium stuff. In fact, if there were books and seminars on medium stuff, no one would buy or attend. That’s the problem with medium stuff, it’s boring.

In an automobile wheel, there is the “big stuff” tire, which gets all the glory and has blimps named for it and TV commercials touting it’s virtues and then there is the air inside the tire (small stuff) which is checked frequently to make sure it is doing OK and there is just the right amount of it. (Air actually has it’s own alarm light in newer cars, making it think it is really big stuff)

But it is the medium stuff…the axle and rim without which a wheel is not a wheel.

For people, businesses and ministries, focusing only on small details can be distracting or at best counter-productive. In publishing, this could be comparable to thinking that if the grammar in a manuscript were correct, it will sell well.

Likewise, big stuff can be made our focal point to such an extent that we forget the small things. Like a great book (big stuff) released without proofreading (small stuff).

The medium stuff is the fabric that keeps it all together.

It’s the printing press that prints the books. It’s the truck that carries large barrels of ink to the printer. It’s the chemical plant that manufactures ink. It’s the paper plant that manufactures the paper for books. It’s the computer servers in who-knows-where that send eBook files to anywhere on the planet. It’s the metadata coordinator entering information into the spreadsheet and uploading to customer computers. It’s the book buyer for a retailer or reseller who makes a decision to purchase a book for the store.

These are medium things. No fanfare. They are just there, making things happen.

Editors are medium stuff. They might get a mention in an acknowledgement page, but no parades.

So what is my purpose today with this tribute to medium stuff?

I was thinking of some ministries and those friends who work for them. Ministries like Media Associates International ( who organize training and mentoring for Christian publishers around the world. Or Mission Aviation Fellowship ( who fly people and supplies to places to do ministry. Or ESL teachers living in China and rights and licensing professionals orchestrating publishing of content from one language to another.

Medium stuff. It takes their commitment behind the scenes to make something better. Like Aaron and Hur holding up Moses’ arms.

A problem for medium stuff ministries is they don’t get the financial support as much as the big stuff. Training, education, transportation and logistics aren’t very glamorous pursuits.

So, for all those medium things in the world, I honor you today.

Okay, medium stuff, stop reading this blog and get back to work, you are important and we can’t live without you.

I is for ISBN

by Steve Laube





No, these are not the plays being called by a quarterback during a football game. They are the ISBN numbers on the back of three different books by three different clients. Kudos to the first person to identify the three titles in the comments below.

Back in the mid-60s a major British bookstore chain (W.H. Smith) decided to move toward a computerized inventory system and needed a standardized numbering system to identify which books were which because different books might share the same title. Over time they implemented the BSN or Book Standard Number system.
Other retailers in other countries saw the benefit of this and joined together to created an International group that would administrate this effort. Hence the “I” for International Standard Book Number (ISBN).

Originally it was a 10 digit number. But in the early 2000s there was concern that they might eventually run out of numbers with the proliferation of books being published. So in 2005 they changed to a 13 digit number beginning with a 978 prefix. Once that inventory is exhausted we will start seeing ISBNs beginning with 979.

Please remember that the number is not the bar code. The bar code is generated by the number and is embedded in the funny lines. You can have an ISBN without a bar code but not a bar code without some sort of number.

In the mid-2000s I was part of a meeting in New York with the Book Industry Study Group (BISG) that discussed this transition from 10 digits to 13 digits and the retail implications. The challenge was that many bookstore computer systems were programmed with a field only 10 numbers long and could not accommodate the 13 digits. It was a programming problem that took some time to implement across every retailer.

For example, did you ever notice that the old Borders bookstore chain put price stickers on the back of their books that covered the bar code and the ISBN? They used their own in-house proprietary numbering system to avoid all the confusion as the industry was going through multiple changes. Plus they sold more than books which created another problem.

Note that the “B” in ISBN is for Books. Non-book items like music, clothing, etc have a different set of numbers called the UPC (Universal Product Code). And it is a 12 digit number!

Confused yet?
For a long time some non-book retailers would not carry a book unless it had a UPC code on the back or on the inside front cover. This is no longer a problem, but 15 years ago, if a publisher wanted to sell books in Wal-mart they had to print a UPC bar code and a ISBN bar code on a book. Some mass market paperbacks have a bar code on the inside cover for that purpose.

You may vaguely remember noticing the clerk opening the cover of the book and scanning the inside bar code at the register and not the code on the back of the book. Now you know why.

Anatomy of an ISBN
What do the numbers mean? Or are they random numbers sequentially generated?

Look at this ISBN … 978-1-61626-639-4
There are five parts to the number (note the dashes in the above number?)

The first three numbers mean “This is a book.” In the international rules the prefix is supposed to identify the country of origin. But since all books are supposed start with 978, and eventually 979, the committee named this country “Bookland.” Believe it or not.

The next digit refers to the country, geographical area, or language area of the book. Usually either a 0 or a 1.

The next five numbers refer to the publisher or imprint. When I was the national buyer for a bookstore chain I got so used to dealing with ISBN numbers that I could identify a publisher by its ISBN without seeing the book. 031032 was Zondervan. 080285 was Eerdmans. 155661 was Bethany House. (But those never appeared on a Trivial Pursuit card, so the information was useless outside of work. Unfortunately I still remember them.)

The next three numbers identify which title this is.

The last number is a check digit. Why? My guess is to avoid issuing sequential numbers which would create numerous data entry errors. If you are a math whiz go to this link for the check digit calculation formula. Beware. Looking at the formula too long may be hazardous to your health.

Do You Need an ISBN if Self-Publishing?
To further confuse the issue, if you self publish and plan to only use Amazon’s Kindle format, you don’t need an ISBN because Amazon will issue you an ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number) for your product. But realize it keeps you inside the Amazon economic system. The number cannot be used anywhere else.

If you want to sell your book elsewhere, like a bookstore or to a library, you must have an ISBN. Plus you will need one for your paperback edition and a different one for your ebook edition. (The jury is still out if you need separate ISBNs for your Kindle-mobi edition and your ePub edition. Many are choosing to only have one for all ebook formats.)

ISBNs can be obtained from Bowker in the US and from CCIS in Canada.

Be the Life of Your Next Party
The next time you are at a party and want to amaze your friends, take a book from the shelf, turn it over, and take your audience on a thrill ride through that little 13 digit number. You’ll be glad you did.

Publishing A-Z series:
A is for Agent
A is for Advance
B is for Buy Back
C is for non-Compete
D is for Dispute Resolution
E is for Editor
F is for Foreign Rights
G is for Great
H is for Hybrid
I is for Indemnification
I is for ISBN
J is for Just-in-Time
L is for Libel

Book Proposals I’d Love to See

by Tamela Hancock Murray

beautiful red rose flower on black background

By God’s will and pleasure, during my career as a literary agent I have been successful in representing authors writing Christian romance, Christian and general market trade book fiction, and Christian nonfiction.

My interests have changed very little since my first blog post for The Steve Laube Agency, “Happy to Be Here,” but here’s an update for you:

Do you still want to see Christian romance novels?
Indeed I do! I’m happy to say that this is one area of Christian fiction that continues to thrive and enjoy an enthusiastic readership.

I am still passionate about Christian romance novels. I respect and honor the fact that the editors of the romance lines are very specific about their needs and wants. They look for hardworking, dedicated, talented authors who are able to write a fresh story within the romance novel framework. Does this describe you? If so, I’d love to partner with you!

What about other genres of fiction?
As those following the industry are aware, the trade book fiction market has contracted in recent years, but I have never experienced an easy time for authors to break in to trade fiction. As with modeling and acting, more people want those jobs than there are jobs available. This is a perennial fact.

However, I am always seeking a tale well told that I believe deserves a place in CBA. My personal tastes will always veer to heavy romantic elements. To wit, if my husband has a movie on television and I don’t see any women (e.g., cowboys sitting around a fire or a bunch of guys on a boat), I find something else to do until the movie is over.

But as long as there is a heavy romantic element, I’m open to all sorts of stories.

Are you open to general market fiction?
Yes. But the story must be so clean you’d be willing to share it with your most devout friend or relative. Nothing that would dishonor God or disrespect the faith of the church, as defined by The Apostle’s Creed, is welcome here.

Are you still open to nonfiction submissions?
Yes, and I continue to be highly selective. The importance of author platform here is magnified a thousandfold in comparison with fiction. I need to see an author who’s already connecting with his or her audience so I can show publishers the author has gained respect and credibility with current readers and will be a great partner with the publisher in expanding reader base. Nonfiction readers are looking for insight, consolation, help, knowledge, and encouragement. An author needs to come from a position of authority when delivering a book to these readers.

Platform must be accompanied by a great idea told in dynamic writing. Tell me why you have an audience eager to read what you have to say on your topic, and why. I love books that  make me want to read them even when the topic doesn’t apply to me. Now that’s a well-written and engaging book.

And in today’s market, that’s what you need.

Do you have a lot of slots open for new authors?
God has seen fit to allow me a client list that is fantastic beyond my wildest dreams. However, I am humbled and honored by authors who take their valuable time to learn about me and afterwards feel led to submit their ideas to me, especially when CBA is blessed by so many talented literary agents.

Although we are not perfect in our level of response (meaning it’s OK to follow up if you don’t hear from us), my assistant and I do consider submissions from new authors. I am thrilled to work with promising new as well as established authors. You can send proposals via email to (please visit the guidelines for specifics).

Are you still happy to be here?
Why yes, I am!

When You are on the Bench

by Steve Laube


The NCAA Basketball Tournament is upon us with lots of drama accompanying March Madness.

As you watch a game, of any team sport, the focus is on the players in the contest. The camera follows the stars and their every move. What you rarely do is watch the bench or the players on the sidelines.

I find this to be a fascinating metaphor for the writing and publishing “game.” There are mega-stars with household names. There are the “up and comers” carving out their place. And with each publishing release a new name steps forward displaying their talent.

But what about those who are left on the bench? What do you do when someone else takes what you think is your place in the spotlight? Or what if you used to be on the starting team but can no longer get a new contract or the attention your books deserve?

I observe at least three types of writers who sit on the bench:

The Intentional Critic

I have often observed the sneer of disdain when a famous author is being discussed. “Oh their books aren’t that good. I couldn’t finish even one.” “I can write so much better than so-and-so.” You understand what I’m saying? And I have likely willfully participated in the criticism.

There is a legitimate place for critique and published reviews (both online and print). They provide a valuable service in helping us discover whether a book is worth the time to read. And yet I once looked up every review written by an individual on Amazon out of curiosity (it is easy to look those up). This particular reviewer did not like a single book they had reviewed. Not one. It made me wonder if they were being intentional about their criticism in order to bring other writers down.

If you are on the bench be careful not to let the jealously bug bite and infect you with bitterness. Caustic words tend to burn the giver as well as the receiver.

The Student

Teams practice nearly every day. It creates a “muscle memory” for certain plays and for the interaction with other team members. They learn from each other and from their coaches.

It is the same in the writing world. This season may be one where you are on the bench. Use that time to improve your craft. Watch how other authors market their new books and keep a notebook of ideas. Make note of promotional things that don’t work as well as those that do. Read widely in your genre and outside. Your non-fiction may improve after reading a great storyteller. Or your fiction may have a new layer of fascination because of some non-fiction piece you read.

I have met a number of very famous authors in our industry who have attended a writers conference as a student. They were not there to teach or speak. They were not there to mentor. They were not there to critique. They were there, paying their own way, to sit quietly in the back and learn how to improve their craft.

So even if you are on the bench you can still learn something. And be prepared for the day when your name is called.

The Cheerleader

The video at the end of this piece is absolutely delightful. See how the bench celebrates the success of the other players. It is inspiring. Why?

Because it is a lesson to the rest of us. No pasted smiles on our faces when our friend gets a contract and we don’t. You’ve seen the smile that doesn’t travel up to the eyes. No empty words like “I’m so happy for you” said with gritted teeth.

Instead bring unbridled enthusiasm to the game. This is about changing the world. The non-fiction piece inspires and instructs thousands of people in far flung places. That novel warms a heart or challenges a reader through a character who has come alive on the page. This miracle of the written word is something to celebrate, truly celebrate.

Of course not every book is made equal. That is why there are so many and why our tastes are so varied. But if you find yourself on the bench for whatever reason. Take the chance to send a note of encouragement to that author. Not just gushy fan letters, but a note that only another writer would understand. Use your blog or Facebook page to celebrate those new releases. Let your network know there is an alternative to the drivel found on most TV stations and in movie theaters.

Meanwhile, enjoy the rest of March Madness and this video. Next time a new book hits a home run or scores a touchdown or sinks a buzzer beater or gets past the goalie, celebrate like these guys:

Hug a Librarian

by Steve Laube

Close up of a young male student holding book in front of his face amid bookshelves in the college library

It all began in elementary school. I discovered our city’s public library with the help of my mom. I soon began walking there regularly after school. While there, in what seemed to be a massive building, I would explore the rows and rows of books. Plucking one off the shelf here and there and skimming pages. And one day discovered a complete section of books on medieval knights and their armor. I spent hours pouring over those illustrations and reading all about medieval warfare.

Later, in high school, I spent one semester as the librarian’s aide. She and I would race to see who could file things in the card catalog faster. (Yes, back then we had a card catalog.)

In college I spent my junior year, one full Summer, and the first semester senior year working in the college library. I even explored the possibility of getting a Masters degree in Library Science. There was a certain satisfaction in helping other students find the right material for their research or showing them how to use various pieces of equipment. I even spent time in the back room repairing broken bindings and cataloging the rare book collection.

This past weekend there was the Public Library Association Conference in Indianapolis and had me thinking about the impact of the Library on my life and today in my profession as a literary agent. One fascinating Pew Research study found:

Nearly “90% of Americans ages 16 and older said that the closing of their local public library would have an impact on their community, with 63% saying it would have a ‘major’ impact. Asked about the personal impact of a public library closing, two-thirds (67%) of Americans said it would affect them and their families, including 29% who said it would have a major impact.”

It is a sad thing when municipal budgets cut library hours, services, and resource budgets. It is as if many don’t realize how vital a strong library system is to our society. Instead they see the library as a luxury. A non-essential.

I’ve said it this way, “The public library system is the largest bookstore chain in the country and few realize it. If a book is sold to only a tiny percent of the branches your book could sell thousands of copies!” Even with digital initiatives changing the nature of libraries, they still buy books. Lots of books. (Publishers are finding ways of selling ebooks to libraries so they can be checked out by the public. The link is to a Forbes article on the topic.)

One estimate claims there are 120,000 libraries in the U.S. Of those 9,000 are public libraries (which also have an additional 7,000 branches = 16,000 buildings). There are another 98,000 school libraries, both public and private.

As I was thinking about this post and the job our librarians do I stumbled across this great interview with a librarian published only a few days ago. Read it here.

For authors there is a great service called Library Insider (click here to visit the site) Developed by Books and Such Literary Agency and Judy Gann, herself a librarian, it helps writers market their books to libraries across the country.

Back to the title of this post. When was the last time you went to your local library? Have you shown appreciation for the work they do? Consider joining a local group that supports your library system. Give them a proverbial hug.

As Neil Gaiman said, in his brilliant lecture “Why Our Future Depends on Libraries, Reading and Daydreaming“:

“Libraries are about freedom. Freedom to read, freedom of ideas, freedom of communication. They are about education (which is not a process that finishes the day we leave school or university), about entertainment, about making safe spaces, and about access to information.”

Two Important Ingredients for Success

by Karen Ball

happy businessman holding success text  and jumping on the green field

I’ll never forget the day, just after church, when a friend pulled me aside and said, “My son can’t find a job and he needs to make some money fast. So he’s going to write a book. Any advice for him?”

Yeah, well, the advice I had wasn’t for him, it was for her: “Don’t ever say anything like that to me again.”

Whatever gave people the impression that writing was a get-rich quick scheme? Or that there was anything quick about it? Those of us who’ve been working at this for more than a few days know that very little happens quickly in publishing. So let me point out two things you have to have if you hope to succeed at this writing game: patience and perseverance.

But then, those two gems are necessary for success in most fields. So for those who are growing weary, who feel it’s taking too long, who wonder why they ever jumped into this pool to begin with, let me encourage you with a few stories of success that finally came—but only after substantial patience and perseverance:

  1. Emily Dickinson: One of the best-loved writers of all times, Dickinson crafted 1800 pieces of literary beauty. And, while she lived, guess how many were published? Less than 1 percent. And many of those dozen or so pieces were altered big-time to fit contemporary poetic rules. (Rotten editors!) Her first book of poems was published in 1890, 4 years after her death, by a group of friends. The first complete collection of her poems wasn’t published until 1955. Today? She’s read worldwide and considered by many to be one of the most important American poets ever.
  2. Vincent Van Gogh: One of his paintings recently sold for $149.5 million. And yet, while he lived, he sold…wait for it…one painting. One. To a friend. For the equivalent of pennies. So what did he do in the face of no sales? He kept painting. In fact, he created over 800 works. That, my friends, is perseverance.
  3. Dr. Seuss: Oh yes, Theodor Seuss Giesel was not an overnight success. In fact, his first book was rejected by 27 publishers. But thank heaven he kept trying, and ultimately we all benefited from The Cat in the Hat and the discovery that we do, indeed, like Green Eggs and Ham!
  4. Harland David Sanders: I’m especially fond of this one because Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame actually helped send me to college. No lie. He grew up in the same denomination I did, and gave scholarships to children of pastors and missionaries in that denomination. So not only did I receive one of those scholarships, the Colonel, decked out in his white suit and hat, came to my college once a year to say hello. And guess what the food service folks served him every single time. Yup, fried chicken.
             While KFC is, today, a clear success, Sanders had a hard time selling his chicken at first. In fact, his famous secret chicken recipe was rejected 1,009 times before a restaurant accepted it. Now that’s finger-lickin’ perseverance!
  5. Jack London: Speaking of rejection slips, this author of White Fang and The Call of the Wild received six hundred rejections for his works. Six. Hundred. Nuff said.
  6. Oprah Winfrey: Arguably one of the most recognizable people in the world, right? Revolutionized talk TV. Launched numerous writers’ careers with her book club. And, like many who are now successful, took hit after hit before she hit it big. In fact, she was fired from her job as a TV reporter because—ready for this?—they declared her “unfit for television.” Yeah, okay. Good thing she didn’t believe them.
  7. Thomas Edison: Okay, so today we equate this name with invention and brilliance. But when he was a kid, Edison’s teachers were less than encouraging. Said he was too stupid to learn anything. So, adulthood was better, right? Yeah, not so much. He was fired from his first two jobs. Enter his inventor years, during which he invented the light bulb…after 1,000 failed attempts! Perseverance, thy name is Edison!
  8. Abraham Lincoln: We all know Lincoln as one of the most successful and revered presidents in history. But that didn’t happen until he’d been demoted from captain to private while in the military, he’d started any number of businesses that failed, and he ran for public office—and was defeated. Over and over. So glad he kept at it!

This is just a short list of folks who have had to overcome adversity, opposition, rejection, and failure to reach the heights of success. And I believe they made it because of those two special ingredients: patience and perseverance. They didn’t let failure derail them. And they didn’t expect success NOW. They just kept at it, doing what they knew to do, believing in themselves and their calling.

Let’s follow their lead and stay the course.


How to Be A Publisher’s Favorite Author

by Dan Balow

linchpinThree years ago, Seth Godin published his book Linchpin.  Since I follow Seth’s books and blog as a personal and professional challenge, I read it and was inspired by it’s concepts.

In it, Godin speaks about some of the new realities in business relationships.  There used to be management and those who were managed.  But now, he says, there is a third group…linchpins.  These are people who make unique contributions to an organization, solve problems and make the organization better. 

To be clear, a linchpin is not someone who knows all the computer passwords and won’t tell anyone else, or the only one who knows where to find the key to the petty cash drawer. In fact, a person who bases their “indispensability” on a lot of little things is actually just the opposite…even potentially dangerous. 

If you are already published or want to be published, you should think about what sort of relationship you want to have with the publisher.

How would you become a “linchpin author” who inspires the best work from a publisher?  Other than the obvious of writing a bestseller and making them and you a lot of money, here are some ideas:

  • Know something about the publisher.  Read about their history and know who is important and what motivates them.  If you were interviewing for a job, you would learn something about the company, right?
  • Follow through on commitments.  Hit deadlines.  If you can’t, tell the publisher well in advance.  Communicate even if the publisher doesn’t.
  • Make relationship deposits. At some point you will need to make withdrawals and there needs to be something in the account.
  • Minister to the publisher.  If you are a marriage counselor, offer a free marriage seminar to the publisher staff.  If you consult ministries, offer it.  Look for a unique thing you can freely give from yourself without strings attached.
  • Be cost-conscious.  Publishers are, you should be too.  Let the publisher decide to spend $300 on dinner.
  • Contact the head of sales and marketing and ask if there anything you can do to help.  And mean it.
  • Find a book from the publisher that you really like (not one of yours) and promote it with no strings attached. You are a team player.
  • Pray for your publisher without telling them.

If you haven’t been published yet, it is never too early to devise a relationship strategy that makes you a linchpin author.  You spend time developing your marketing platform…would make sense to find ways to keep a publisher working hard for you.

Finally, in the end, your book needs to sell well in order for a publisher to continue working with you. But publishers make decisions based on money along with relationship.  If sales are borderline, the relationship might be the deciding factor.

What ideas do you have to make yourself a linchpin author?  

Did You Feel the Tremor in the Industry Last Week?

by Steve Laube


I know what it is like to feel the earth move under my feet having experienced the ’64 Alaska earthquake firsthand. (The above picture is from the neighborhood where we lived called Turnagain Arm.) Therefore I know the difference between a 9.2 Richter scale quake and a tremor that registers near 2.0 on the scale.

Last Thursday Amazon announced they were reducing the royalty payments for authors and vendors who use their ACX service to sell self-published audio books. The amount will change on March 12th for new contracts to a flat rate of 40% instead of the 50%-90% rate they currently pay.

No big deal, right? Sort of like a 2.0 tremor. If you blinked you missed it. And since many don’t have an ACX account to sell audio books they are unaffected. However this should be a reminder to all authors and publishers who use KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) that Amazon can change their royalty terms at any time.

This is the danger of putting all the proverbial eggs in one basket. If any author chooses to only utilize the economic system of Amazon for their sales they can be vulnerable to any changes. I once met a man who sold the foil that was used to make the dairy creamer packets for McDonalds. He had one client. His job was to search the world for the best price on foil. And he lived in terror of losing his client.

Be very clear, I am not suggesting that this is going to happen. Amazon’s 70% royalty rate on kindle ebooks has not changed. All I am suggesting is that it could.

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