Jan

6

2014

Steve Laube Buys Marcher Lord Press

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Below the following announcement is a question and answer session with Steve Laube.

 (January 1, 2014 – Phoenix, AZ) Steve Laube, president of The Steve Laube Agency, has agreed to purchase Marcher Lord Press, the premier publisher of Science Fiction and Fantasy for the Christian market. The sale was finalized on January 1, 2014.

Laube has long been a champion of the genre, going back to his days as an acquisition editor at Bethany House Publishers. Jeff Gerke, the founder of Marcher Lord Press, said “I could not have found a better person to buy the company I started in 2008.” Marcher Lord Press has a backlist of about 40 titles with many of them nominated or winning both Christy and Carol awards for being the best in their genre.

The new Marcher Lord Press will be run as a separate company from Steve Laube’s literary agency. The agency, founded in 2004, has four agents and over 150 active authors (www.stevelaube.com) with contracts for nearly 1,000 new books. Gerke will focus his efforts on his freelance editorial and publishing service business and his own writing.

“The plan is to continue with what Jeff started and release between 4-8 new titles in 2014,” Laube said. “I have long believed that this genre has been underserved in our industry despite its inherent ability to tell ‘Fantastic’ stories of philosophical and theological depth.”

______

Q & A with Steve Laube

Why Marcher Lord Press?

I have had a passion for Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy ever since my days as a bookseller in the 80s and as an editor for Bethany House Publishers in the 90s. I first fell in love with science fiction as a kid reading Mysterious Island by Jules Verne and the Pellucidar books by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Fiction can portray the power of the Gospel through great stories of redemption, hope, and grace. Science Fiction is a unique genre that attempts to answer the philosophical and theological questions of “Who are we?” and “Why are we here?” In most Fantasy novels there is an implicit story of good versus evil where good triumphs. In addition the whole genre has the opportunity to build worlds never before explored (to quote the famous line: “To boldly go where no man has gone before.”). The boundaries for creativity in  storytelling are limitless. No other genre can do that quite the same way.

Aren’t you competing with the same publishers to whom you sell your client’s proposals?

Technically the answer is “yes,” but practically the answer is “no.” Few publishers in the Christian market publish the science fiction or fantasy genres. However we continue to sell our clients to those who do well with these books. Patrick Carr, for example, just agreed to a new contract with Bethany House. Lisa Bergren’s YA titles are published by both David C. Cook and the Blink imprint of Zonderkidz. Chuck Black has a new adventure series releasing this Spring from Waterbrook/Multnomah and Evangeline Denmark has just signed with Blink.

In addition, Marcher Lord Press (MLP) releases only 4-8 titles per year. The readership of the genre are enthusiastic and voracious. Thus I don’t see MLP being competition in the larger sense of the word.

One publisher talked with me last Friday and applauded the move saying “We need champions of great fiction in our market.”

Isn’t this a conflict of interest with other agents?

I don’t see that as a problem. The agent community is a small one and we tend to know each other and respect each other’s abilities. I look forward to helping agents and their authors find a landing place and their unique voice in a niche genre. Our own agency’s agents will have the same chance to sell to MLP because it is set up as a company separate from The Steve Laube Agency. Amanda Luedeke with MacGregor Literary addressed this in her blog last Thursday.

Isn’t this a conflict of interest with authors? Are you only going to publish your agency’s authors?

The goal is to publish the best. Nothing changes in that regard. There are some tremendous writers already in the MLP catalog and we hope to continue those relationships. We will also be looking for new voices as well as those that are already established.

We will consider both agented and unagented submissions. The submission guidelines are found on the Marcher Lord Press website.

What about books published under the Hinterlands imprint of Marcher Lord Press and the recently released Amish Vampires in Space?

These are actually two different issues and should be treated separately. I chose not to purchase those assets and agreed to have those publication rights sold elsewhere or revert to their respective authors.

Hinterlands was created in 2012 as an imprint of MLP to publish science-fiction and fantasy stories with mature content and themes (i.e. PG-13 or R-rated language, sexuality, and violence). That imprint and all those titles have been sold by Jeff Gerke to a third party and will likely reappear under a new publishing name in the near future.

Amish Vampires in Space was not part of Hinterlands and is a well written book (no surprise considering Kerry Neitz is the author). Jeff Gerke, Kerry Neitz, and I discussed this prior to my purchasing MLP. While we have differing opinions on its publication, ultimately it would not have been a book I would have published had I been the publisher. The title has reverted to Kerry and the book is still available for sale in most major online outlets.

What is your vision for the new Marcher Lord Press?

A “Marcher Lord” was a noble warrior who served as a guardian of the borders. That definition is a perfect metaphor for the Science Fiction and Fantasy stories published by MLP. We will continue to build the company on its existing foundation and through the power of great stories explore the boundaries of imagination. It is there where heroic adventures, sacrificial living, and redemptive characters are found.

Initially it will be business as usual. The people and resources already in place will remain unchanged. There are plans for a number of new releases in 2014 including the debut novel by Nadine Brandes called A Time to Die (which you must read) as well as the continuation of other ongoing series by John Otte, Morgan Busse, and Stuart Stockton. MLP has been and will continue to be the premier publisher of Science Fiction and Fantasy for the Christian market.

A Thank You

I would like to thank Jeff Gerke for the hard work, actually his blood, sweat, and tears, that he put into founding and building Marcher Lord Press into the company it is today.

32 Responses to “Steve Laube Buys Marcher Lord Press”

  1. Jackie Layton January 6, 2014 at 4:12 am #

    Hi Steve,

    Congratulations! I love romantic suspense and romance, but this weekend I’ve been reminded how much I enjoy fantasy.

    My twenty year old son had surgery Friday morning. The doctor told him not to do anything but lie around for the first three days. We watched a lot of movies this weekend, mostly fantasy. I had forgotten how much I enjoy this genre.

    Both of my sons read a lot of science fiction and fantasy, and I was happy to hear you bought Marcher Lord Press.

    Again, congratulations.

  2. Lisa Hall-Wilson January 6, 2014 at 5:31 am #

    Congrats! I’m sure this will be a blessing to many. News for those who’d been invited to submit to Hinterlands is still sketchy. I’m assuming if you have a mss under consideration for Hinterlands to just move on.
    Since Vox Day, for one, has already talked about keeping all his rights instead of following wherever Hinterlands has landed, what should we make of that?

    • Steve Laube January 6, 2014 at 11:03 am #

      Anything Hinterlands related did not come to me. So if you had a mss under consideration it is likely you will need to start over. Or find another publisher.

      I recommend checking with the blog over at speculativefaith.com. They have a thumb on the pulse of what’s new around the industry.

      Also there is a list of publishers in the genre here: http://newauthors.wordpress.com/2013/04/12/christian-specfic-publishers/

  3. Peter DeHaan January 6, 2014 at 5:45 am #

    Steve, I am simultaneously surprised and not surprised. This is a bold move that speaks to your vision and the opportunities afforded to us all in the rapidly changing book publishing industry.

    Congratulations — and well done!

  4. Ron Estrada January 6, 2014 at 6:53 am #

    Thanks, Steve. As an engineer who has spent his 20 year career in the Detroit auto industry, these things don’t surprise me anymore. At least MLP didn’t get bought out by an Italian company. I’ve jumped between mystery, suspense, and dystopian\post-apocalyptic, with the latter being my true passion. It seems, though, that spec fiction is either hot or cold. I was even informed recently that dystopian is dead (again). If you have time to offer an opinion, I’d love to hear it. Perhaps another blog post is in order for that one, though.

    • Steve Laube January 6, 2014 at 11:07 am #

      The problem with a popular genre, like dystopian, is that every publisher jumps on the bandwagon. By the time the marketplace sees a ton of books in that category the editors are already fatigued…and later the store buyers are fatigued. Eventually the readers become numb to the flood of titles and their eyes glaze over with fatigue.

      This happens over and over again. Happened with chick-lit. Happened with vampire books. It is happening with Amish titles.

      Meanwhile those of us who like a dystopian or post-apocalyptic story have a wealth of choices…but in a year or so there will be a dearth of new ones coming out…. and if they are still popular, the cycle begins again.

  5. Carla Laureano January 6, 2014 at 7:01 am #

    Congratulations, Steve. I can’t imagine a better person to head up Marcher Lord Press 2.0, and I’m excited to see what the future holds. As you said, we definitely need more champions for quality (speculative) fiction in the marketplace, and it’s great to know the MLP we know and love isn’t going anywhere.

  6. Connie Almony January 6, 2014 at 7:03 am #

    Wow! Exciting news. Wishing you all the best in bringing great fiction to readers. And yes, everyone should read Nadine Brandes’ A Time to Die!!! She is an awesome writer!!!

  7. Jessica E. Thomas January 6, 2014 at 7:10 am #

    Best of luck on this new (ad)venture. :)

  8. April Gardner January 6, 2014 at 7:25 am #

    What a neat, unexpected announcement! I’m a big fan of growing the Christian fantasy genre. We need to reach the people wherever they’re at, and that particular group of people has been ignored too long. Way to go, Steve!

  9. Ronie January 6, 2014 at 7:29 am #

    This acquisition makes so much sense to me. Anyone who’s known you, Steve, knows about your longtime passion for this genre. Jeff has done an amazing job with Marcher Lord and founded a reputable venue for publishing our beloved speculative fiction.

    I’m excited to see where you take Marcher Lord Press, and I’m praying for everyone involved!

  10. Ashley Bazer January 6, 2014 at 7:31 am #

    Wonderful news! Congratulations! I am grateful to the champions of Christian sci-fi.

    Will the transition affect any manuscripts being reviewed for potential publication with Marcher Lord Press?

    • Steve Laube January 6, 2014 at 11:10 am #

      I will answer for all those asking about current submissions. Over a dozen submissions are in the review queue. These were sent our way late last week. It is going to take a while to work through those. I do not know what had been rejected prior to that.

      If you are unsure it would be okay with me to resubmit the new proposal using the submission form on the Marcher Lord web site.

  11. Jennette January 6, 2014 at 7:37 am #

    Ever since I read your interview on the Where the Map Ends website so long ago, I knew your heart was for the spec-fic community. Not to mention your representation of such authors as Karen Hancock, Patrick Carr and Kathy Tyers. I am looking forward to see what God does with this move. Congrats!

  12. Jeanne Takenaka January 6, 2014 at 7:48 am #

    Wow, Steve. What amazing news! It’s going to be exciting to hear where God takes MLP from here. I have a lot of respect for Jeff Gerke, as well as for you. No doubt, MLP and those it contracts with will only benefit from these changes.

  13. Becky Minor January 6, 2014 at 7:55 am #

    I’m glad to see an outpouring of support here for this change in leadership. Change is always a little nerve-wracking for folks, but I sincerely believe that God is working through this to put both Steve and Jeff into places where they can be very effective in their areas of gifting, to the benefit of the genre.

    I’m looking forward to seeing how MLP metamorphoses to continue to serve fans of faith-friendly speculative fiction.

  14. Sarah Grimm January 6, 2014 at 7:59 am #

    Mr. Laube,

    Congrats! MLP puts out great titles from talented authors. I know Mr. Gerke wouldn’t have made the decision to sell his company to just anyone. (He made you spar with an orc using nothing but an oak shield, didn’t he? Or was it a rancor, and all you had was a skull?)Seriously, I have a lot of respect for both of you and am truly excited to see what new books will come out in 2014 with you at the helm.

    I’m hoping it’s okay to ask a very self-serving question here, but I’m dying to know (and I imagine a lot of others are too). Jeff Gerke requested my manuscript at a conference in August 2013. Does that mean it’s in your inherited slush pile, or should I plan to submit the manuscript anew?

    Thank you for your devotion to the often overlooked, undervalued Christian speculative fiction genre and its writers. May the force be with you, and may the odds be ever in your favor. No, really, may God bless this new endeavor. We need trailblazers–and Marcher Lords–like you.

  15. Michelle Levigne January 6, 2014 at 8:40 am #

    I echo Sarah — I have 2 books under consideration: move on, or wait to be read?

    After talking with you many years ago at a conference in Akron, OH, I know you support SF/F — you recommended Firebird to me before it came out from Bethany — so I know MLP is in good hands. Just hope my books will end up in your hands, too!

  16. Jennifer Dyer January 6, 2014 at 8:52 am #

    How exciting. Thanks for your continued commitment to great stories, Steve. :-). Among other good things, I believe this will increase the reach of MLP.

  17. Laurie Alice Eakes January 6, 2014 at 8:59 am #

    Congratulations. I know of your love for the Science Fiction genre. I have always thought MLP held an important place in the Christian market, so am glad to see it living on.

  18. Rachel Muller January 6, 2014 at 9:26 am #

    I’d like to add my congrats to you also! This is so exciting and I’m thrilled to get read this question and answer time. Thanks for sharing it with us and I wish you much success in 2014 and the years to follow! :)

  19. Carole Ann January 6, 2014 at 10:15 am #

    Congratulations to Steve and to Jeff on their new ventures. Will you continue updating the webpage “Where the Map Ends” or will that be going away?

    http://www.wherethemapends.com/main.htm

    • Steve Laube January 6, 2014 at 11:11 am #

      That site is Jeff’s. I do not know what his plans are for that site.

  20. Janet Ann Colins January 6, 2014 at 10:18 am #

    Congratulations! Jeff Gerke did a wonderful job getting sci-fi and fantasy back into Christian publishing. But I hope you’ll do one thing he didn’t and start publishing books like that for kids.

    • Steve Laube January 6, 2014 at 11:13 am #

      By “kids” do you mean YA or middle grade readers?

      For now we have the John Otte FAILSTATE novels that can work for the YA market. But we do not have any middle grade reader projects planned.

      That may change, but not right away.

      • Janet Ann Collins January 6, 2014 at 1:51 pm #

        I mean Middle Grade. Please do consider doing some of those. Kids need to use their imaginations as much as possible in wholesome ways.

  21. Narelle Atkins January 6, 2014 at 2:55 pm #

    Congratulations Steve! Exciting news for authors and readers. My kids would defintely read any future MLP titles for middle grade readers :)

  22. Catherine Hackman January 7, 2014 at 7:56 am #

    Congratulations! Exciting news for all of us.

  23. MArci Seither January 8, 2014 at 12:13 am #

    Congratulations on this exciting new journey!

    What a great blessing for Jeff to know that the business he started will continue with the diligence and integrity he started it with. I think you are going to do well with this new venture! So excited to see Christian publishing stay..Christian publishing and not just absorbed into a bigger publisher under the “spiritual” banner. This is a good move for everyone.

  24. Ralph Long April 16, 2014 at 11:50 am #

    Steve,

    Great news and congratulations on your move. I am curious as to how submissions are to be handled for those already requested by MLP? Are full manuscripts that were recently requested and sent going to come over to you as well?

    Thanks much,

    Ralph

Trackbacks/Pingbacks:

  1. My Response to the Sale of Marcher Lord Press - Nadine Brandes - January 6, 2014

    […] mistrust, excitement, and shock. There are a lot of questions, many of which Steve will answer in a Q&A on his blog on Monday, January 6th. But I feel the need to step out and at least let you know my thoughts as […]

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