Ask Me Anything

With Summer in full mid-form and some planning the rest of their year’s writing efforts, I thought it might be a good chance for you to post below any question you might have about the publishing business.

Editing? Proposals? Why so many rejections? How does it all work? Will Amazon doom us all? Are bookstores dying? etc. I only ask that you keep within the topic of writing and publishing. I can’t solve your calculus homework. I won’t comment on political debate. And while I might like to weigh in on the Kenotic Theory regarding Jesus’ incarnation, it would not be a good fit for this blog.

Some may be answered below. Some may be saved for a longer blog post later this Summer. Be aware that some questions may not be able to be properly answered in a short post.

I recently did a “Ask Me Anything” session at a writers conference. It was scheduled for an hour. The fifty people who attended had a lot of questions and it lasted three hours (with me losing my voice by the end)!

Please let us help you on your journey.

You can also ask more than one question. There isn’t a limit.


98 Responses to Ask Me Anything

  1. Avatar
    Janine Rosche July 17, 2017 at 4:08 am #

    What is your favorite book? Or what book turned your head towards publishing?

    • Avatar
      Steve Laube July 17, 2017 at 9:41 am #

      Favorite book? Oh my. That’s like asking which one your children do you love best…
      Depends on the category. If systematic theologies? I like “Evangelical Theology” by Michael Bird.
      If science fiction? It is a close contest between “Dune” and “Ender’s Game”
      If a book that changed my life? It would be “Knowing God” by J.I. Packer.

      My head was turned when in college and getting a part-time job in a local bookstore. That became my career for over a decade…which became my work as an editor for Bethany House…which transitioned to my work as a literary agent.
      No one book created that journey. It was more an overall interest in books.

  2. Avatar
    Brennan McPherson July 17, 2017 at 4:11 am #

    Is there a certain sub-genre that is experiencing increased interest in the Christian fiction publishing industry (meaning are publishers + agents are more actively pursuing proposals for that sub-genre at this moment than, say, a year ago)? I know this changes frequently, I’m just curious about current ebb and flow. And perhaps why you think that certain sub-genre is experienced an increase in interest?

    • Avatar
      Steve Laube July 17, 2017 at 9:45 am #


      Trying to identify trends is always a little sketchy as our lens is limited to a certain extent. The momentum for a particular sub-genre in Christian fiction in the past year has been with romantic suspense. However, I suspect that “funnel” has been quickly filled with some great writers. We’ll all start seeing those books in the next couple years.

      Just don’t ask, what’s next? Who know?

      It could be Dystopian Systematic Theology with a Romantic Twist.

      • Avatar
        Brennan McPherson July 18, 2017 at 3:41 am #

        Thanks Steve! So appreciate the time you spend interacting on this blog!

        • Avatar
          Edward Lane July 24, 2017 at 8:38 pm #

          That makes a lot of sense. I’m going to slash Bible verses I have referenced in a manuscript and defer using one key one until the end. Thank you for your response.

  3. Avatar
    John de Sousa July 17, 2017 at 4:16 am #

    Thank you for this great opportunity. I was curious whether the portrayal of certain spiritual gifts could affect the marketability of a novel. For instance, if the protagonist was given a dream or a vision, or if one of the characters once prayed “in tongues”. If the elements of the story were doctrinally sound as to the fundamentals of the faith, and the emphasis was not on those gifts, could their presence still be a factor?
    Thanks again.

    • Avatar
      Carol Ashby July 17, 2017 at 4:46 am #

      Interesting question, john. I’d add healing by laying on of hands to your list. I’d also add to your question whether CBA editors who otherwise love your story would insist that you edit those things out.

    • Avatar
      Steve Laube July 17, 2017 at 9:52 am #

      John and Carol,

      Much depends on the orientation of a particular publisher. Some may have a theology as a company that would rather not have the more ecstatic gifts of the spirit on display in their novels.

      I do remember (20 years ago now) when a upcoming author (now a household name) had a novel rejected because the key device in the story was a dream/vision. It was the linchpin of the novel. It was published, and helped launch that author’s career. But it had been rejected by some publishers specifically on the issue of the emphasis of dreams/visions in the book.

      I know of another author who was writing a novel in the supernatural genre, specifically angels and demons. One publisher was interested because of the author’s reputation, but asked that the author send their theological position on angels and demons. The author wrote out a multi-page response. Basically the publisher was wanting to make sure the author wasn’t going to be touting aberrant or even heretical beliefs.

      This long answer ultimate comes down to “it depends.”

      • Avatar
        John de Sousa July 17, 2017 at 5:41 pm #

        Thank you for your thoughtful insights! I expected the situation to be similar to what you described, and I can understand the responses. But how fascinating the ultimate results for the authors. I hope to very humbly submit a proposal soon. Many thanks Steve.

  4. Avatar
    Jeanine Lunsford July 17, 2017 at 5:49 am #

    Please help me to get a picture of what happens to a manuscript that has been submitted (via email) to your office, from the time of its arrival to the time of the agent’s acceptance/rejection.
    Thank you for opening the floor for this discussion.

    • Avatar
      Steve Laube July 17, 2017 at 9:53 am #

      A good question for a future blog post.

  5. Avatar
    Carol July 17, 2017 at 5:57 am #

    If you were to publish a book by a Namibian author, how would that work practically with regards to marketing etc

    • Avatar
      Steve Laube July 17, 2017 at 9:59 am #

      If you are meaning any author who resides in a country other than the U.S., then I think I can answer.

      This has always been a bit of a challenge for U.S. based publishers. If the author lives in a time zone that is 10 hours different, then radio interviews can be a challenge to book.

      Unless the author plans to visit the U.S. then TV interviews, in studio, are out.

      If the author only speaks in their home country in their home language, then their “platform” is stronger in their native land than it is in the U.S.

      However, PR and marketing is no longer limited to radio and TV. Blog interviews, creative uses of other social media, can be maximized.

      We have clients from Australia and Canada and have not had much trouble.

      I have worked with an author in South Africa and her challenge is getting her U.S. published books into the South African sales channels. Thus her ability to promote her work in her own country have been difficult.

      As with other answers, “it depends.”

  6. Avatar
    Sandra Lovelace July 17, 2017 at 6:06 am #

    Thank you for this opportunity, Steve.
    What one trait do you find most common amongst authors whose work you consistently accept and are to place with quality contracts? (two or three if you have them)

    • Avatar
      Steve Laube July 17, 2017 at 10:00 am #

      A good question for a future blog post.

  7. Avatar
    Katie Dale July 17, 2017 at 6:06 am #

    Thanks for opening the floor. I am wondering what stage should I have my memoir edited? After I have an agent? After I have a publisher? Before? Should I consider ever getting professionally edited before I get an agent or publisher? What’s the process?

    • Avatar
      Steve Laube July 17, 2017 at 10:00 am #

      A good question for a future blog post.

  8. Avatar
    D Holcombe July 17, 2017 at 6:27 am #

    If Jesus were to walk into your agency and look over the books you have contracted, the proposals on your desk, the policies of your agency, and your agency’s role in his kingdom, what do you think he would say about it?
    On a broader scale, what do you think he would say about the general state of affairs of the Christian publishing world?
    Would he be proud and excited?

    This is not a negative question. I ask this about my own business all the time. I think every Christian should. That’s part of being a disciple.

    • Avatar
      Steve Laube July 20, 2017 at 6:48 pm #

      I think all that we do should be for the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:13b) We strive to keep that in front of us in all we do and say. Not that we are perfect or even admirable, but at least we work towards that goal.

      As for the industry? God seems to be blessing the publishing work in mighty ways.
      Is it perfect? Hardly. We are sinful people redeemed by Jesus Christ. But we are still quite fallible. Does pride, greed, hubris, envy, and other sins creep into the process? Of course. But God’s kingdom cannot be shaken by the sins of men and women.

  9. Avatar
    Afton Rorvik July 17, 2017 at 6:45 am #

    What advice do you have for an author who does not like to speak?

    • Avatar
      Steve Laube July 17, 2017 at 10:00 am #

      A good question for a future blog post.

  10. Avatar
    Eric Grimm July 17, 2017 at 7:07 am #

    Hi Steve,
    How do you see the role of literary agents changing as more authors, both indie and traditionally published, pursue self-publishing?

    • Avatar
      Steve Laube July 17, 2017 at 10:00 am #

      A good question for a future blog post.

  11. Avatar
    Bryan Mitchell July 17, 2017 at 7:16 am #

    Hi Steve,

    I’m going to be itching to submit my work for representation starting in October. I want to do so with proper etiquette though. I know that it’s not nice to send multiple submissions to agents representing the same agency. If it happened at your agency, I’m sure the new office ferret would sense the negative energy, and who knows what will happen to the “Cheez It” snacks. Utter madness could ensue.

    (First Question):
    “What is the max number of submissions you should send at a given time?” I’ve heard ten but that sounds off; to me, it seems it should be less than that if you are carefully considering the agents you reach out to.

    (Second Question):
    “For first-time authors, who’ve submitted X manuscripts for Y weeks but drew no interests in representation, when is it time to pursue self-publishing?” It’s not Calculus!

    • Avatar
      Steve Laube July 17, 2017 at 10:01 am #

      A good question for a future blog post.

  12. Avatar
    Courtney Sherlock July 17, 2017 at 7:29 am #


    How heavily do education, credentials, and social media presence weigh into the decision when agents/publishers are looking at an aspiring author?

    Thank you for taking questions!

    • Avatar
      Steve Laube July 17, 2017 at 10:05 am #

      If non-fiction it is HUGE. It is labeled by the word “Platform.”

      If you don’t have a platform it is an enormous uphill battle to get traction in the marketplace.

      In fiction is is important, but not as essential. However, if your “platform” is small (200 facebook followers, for example, no blog, no web site, etc) then it suggests to the publisher that not many people are engaged in your network. It will factor into the decision-making process.

      • Avatar
        Rachel Lewis July 17, 2017 at 11:18 am #

        Hi Steve! In relation to platform … what top resources do you recommend for learning the art of platform building?

  13. Avatar
    Callie Daruk July 17, 2017 at 7:34 am #

    Hi Steve, I was at your dinner table the last night of the BRMCWC where you held a mini “ask me anything.” We had an equally wonderful time! You had us all laughing with your stories. We didn’t want dinner to end! Thanks for providing this virtual session now.

    My question is: When can the writer/author expect to hear from an agent once their proposal has been submitted to a publisher?

    • Avatar
      Steve Laube July 17, 2017 at 10:14 am #


      That was a fun last meal time! I think our table was one of the last to leave the dining hall.

      Let me draw the chronology based on your question:
      You are already represented by an agent.
      The agent has submitted your proposal to publishers.
      The publishers are responding.
      When does the agent contact you?

      If that is the correct path to your question then the answer is, “It depends.” (Getting tired of that reply yet?)

      In this case it depends on your agent.
      Our agency makes a point of telling you the news from each publisher as soon as it comes in to us. We’d rather you get a “real-time” experience of what is happening.
      We also like to send you the list of all the editors and publishers who have received the proposal so you can check off the list as we check off the list. That way nothing is overlooked.

      If you are asking about how long it takes to hear from a publisher? “It depends.”
      I’ve had rejections within minutes of sending a proposal. I’ve also had many situations where we never hear back from the editor…ever.
      The record waiting time was getting a contract offer 22 months after sending it to a publisher. I called that author and she said, “what book are you talking about?” We had moved on and sold other novels by that author. But this publisher found the proposal, had a need in their list and the author was able to fill it.

      However, those are the extremes. Let me be a little more clear.
      If we don’t hear back from a publisher within six months (despite follow up questions about it), it probably won’t work.

      If a book sells to a publisher that usually happens before three months have passed.

  14. Avatar
    Lauralee Bliss July 17, 2017 at 7:39 am #

    I just saw a blog by Bethany House concerning the status and future of Christian fiction. Uncertain if you’ve seen it yet but would like your reaction and how you see the future for authors publishing in the general Christian market.

  15. Avatar
    Linda July 17, 2017 at 7:49 am #

    Thank you Steve for being willing to do this.
    I have a question about writing coaches/mentors. I have entered a contest and subscribed to a blog by a couple of different mentoring or coaching services. In one case I received some great feedback from the coach with an invitation to submit my work for further help. Of course this help comes with a substantial fee. I do understand this is what their business is. At what point is it worth the investment to hire a writing coach?Being on a limited income I am hesitant to spend a large amount of money on a book that might not ever sell. Both seem to be reputable coaching services but I feel like it’s just another layer and expense for the writer.
    Thank you for your time.

    • Avatar
      Steve Laube July 17, 2017 at 10:14 am #

      A good question for a future blog post.

  16. Avatar
    Katie Powner July 17, 2017 at 8:00 am #

    This question is kind of specific. In a women’s fiction novel that alternates between two women’s POV, how would you feel about having one woman’s POV be in first person, and the other in third person? Would that be distracting? Would it be better to keep the POV consistent? I’d be interested in both your personal preference and also your thoughts on how the POV could affect marketability. Thanks, Steve.

    • Avatar
      Steve Laube July 17, 2017 at 3:33 pm #


      the only “rule” is that there are no “rules” only preferences. A skilled writer can navigate all sorts of rule-breaking techniques.

      But if your first person POV character and your third person character are in the same room and having a conversation? That would be problematic, most likely.

      Me personally? First person, especially first person present tense, if very difficult to do well. When done well, it works beautifully. When it isn’t, I’m pulled out of the story so fast it’s like whiplash.

  17. Avatar
    Jennifer Deibel July 17, 2017 at 8:33 am #

    So many wonderful questions here! Thank you for opening the floor!

    Many of the questions that sprang to mind have already been asked here. The rest are more specific to my current manuscript. So, I will instead ask you this:

    With all the plates you have spinning, plus submission piles a mile deep, how can we pray for you?

    Oh! And one other: do you have an speaking engagements coming up in Arizona? Is therea place online we can find your upcoming engagements/appearances? Thanks!!

    • Avatar
      Steve Laube July 17, 2017 at 3:36 pm #


      Very kind of you to ask.

      Pray for all of our clients first. They wrestle with words every day in an attempt to minister to those who may be touched by those words.

      Pray for each of us in the agency that we can serve with grace and insight to help our clients. And to help each of you, through this blog and our teaching at conferences, to navigate this labyrinth called publishing.

      No, I do not have speaking engagements in Arizona planned in the near future. I will be at Realm Makers conference in late July, then at ACFW in September. Then nothing planned until next year.

      • Avatar
        Harold Thomas July 19, 2017 at 9:34 am #

        When I am overwhelmed, I turn to my favorite relatively-unknown Psalm: Psalm 69, which begins, “Save me O God! The waters are up to my neck!”

  18. Avatar
    Tracey Dyck July 17, 2017 at 8:35 am #

    I can only imagine all the stories shared in a three hour Q&A! 🙂

    My question involves industry standard word counts. I know the most importabt thing is to tell a great story, but at some point the preferences of publishers and readers come into play. My novel is a YA fantasy. Fantasy tends to run long, but YA is all over the map–I’ve seen counts from 55k to 80 or 90k words. So what’s the norm for YA fantasy?

    Like everyone has already said, thanks so much for opening the floor!

    • Avatar
      Steve Laube July 17, 2017 at 3:38 pm #


      Word count? “It depends.”
      Depends on the story.

      There isn’t a set rule in YA Fantasy for length. Other than to say that most Fantasy readers want to wallow in the depth and complexity of the story.

      55K would be on the short side for sure.

      • Avatar
        Tracey Dyck July 17, 2017 at 5:58 pm #

        Haha, I should have seen that answer coming! 😉 Would you say 69k is more the middle of the road, or still a bit short?

        • Avatar
          Steve Laube July 17, 2017 at 6:08 pm #

          If 55k is low then 70k is more than 55k, but still on the low side.

          But it depends on the story.

          The novel I published over at Enclave Publishing called “Knife” by R.J. Anderson could be classified as YA, but we thought the reading audience was broader than that.

          Get a copy. (It is a fantastic story!) It is 73,800 words. And is on the short side.

          Then take a look at “A Time to Die” by Nadine Brandes. The main character is 17 years old so could be classified as YA but we thought the reading audience was broader than that.

          Get a copy. (It too is a fantastic story!) It is 139, 600 words. On the LONG side of the equation.

          My recommendation? Write the best book you possibly can. THEN count the words…

          • Avatar
            Tracey Dyck July 18, 2017 at 8:57 pm #

            I actually do own a copy of Knife! I read an earlier copy years ago when it was under a different publisher, and more recently I got the Enclave copy and reread it. A great story! A Time to Die has been on my radar too, though I’ve yet to read it.

            It’s encouraging to see such a wide range of length!

            Thanks again for your response! I’ll concentrate on story first. 🙂

  19. Avatar
    Connie Lounsbury July 17, 2017 at 9:26 am #

    Hi Steve,
    What is the procedure to get my rights back from a publisher that I am unable to contact? My ebook is still offered on Amazon, but my print book is no longer listed for sale. Also, my name and the book is no longer listed on their website.
    I qualify under my contract to ask for right back, but how do I go about doing so when my publisher will not respond to all my attempts to reach her?

    • Avatar
      Steve Laube July 17, 2017 at 3:41 pm #


      Much depends on your contract.

      If your ebook is still for sale then you should be receiving royalties and a royalty statement. If they have failed to send either they could be in breach of that contract I mentioned. If they are in breach then you can send them a registered letter (signature required) informing them of the breach.

      This is a tough one. I know of an author whose publisher went bankrupt suddenly and he was unable to get his rights back until the bankruptcy court ajudicated the assets.

  20. Avatar
    Cathy Krafve July 17, 2017 at 9:34 am #

    I wonder if I am missing obvious opportunities to get more information from my tribe. What would you recommend about getting the best feedback for relevancy from readers? What tips would you give bloggers for expediting the feedback process?

    • Avatar
      Steve Laube July 17, 2017 at 3:42 pm #


      Not sure what you mean by feedback?

      If you mean bloggers? Write your content in such a way that it creates dialogue via questions or comments.

  21. Avatar
    Dale Ann Edmiston July 17, 2017 at 9:42 am #

    Thank you for the opportunity. How likely are Christian publishers to accept manuscripts for novels that are not intended to entertain Christians, but are meant to plant a seed in a non-believer’s mind?

    • Avatar
      Steve Laube July 17, 2017 at 3:46 pm #


      “It depends.” It depends on the story and the skill of the writer.

      Not sure many authors would say they write “novels intended to entertain Christians.” If you were to sit down with the novelists I know you will find a deep heart for God and a desire to minister through story. Whether the reader is a believer or not.

      A lot of people’s live have been changed for the Kingdom via fiction. Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye all but lost count of the number of letters they received to that effect.

      Just write the best book you possibly can and don’t worry about the rest.

  22. Avatar
    Bob July 17, 2017 at 9:45 am #

    Steve: based on your experience, what are the top 3-4 factors that make a fiction novel appealing to agents and then to readers?

    • Avatar
      Steve Laube July 17, 2017 at 3:47 pm #

      A good question for a future blog post.

  23. Avatar
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser July 17, 2017 at 9:54 am #

    Is there anything like a modern canon of Christian literature?

    • Avatar
      Steve Laube July 17, 2017 at 3:50 pm #


      Not really. I created a “deeper life” reading list for those who take my seminar on “The Spiritual Life of the Writer.” But it isn’t anywhere close to a “modern canon.”

      Ask anyone to create a top 100 list and start comparing, there would be certain books on all the lists. I suppose one could call them a modern canon. Something like “Mere Christianity” or “My Utmost for His Highest” or “The Pursuit of God” would be examples,

  24. Avatar
    Rita July 17, 2017 at 10:01 am #

    What is the norm for contractual screen rights for a novel. If a production company wants to option the rights for your novel, is that handled by the literary agency or a separate attorney or any other agency?

    • Avatar
      Steve Laube July 17, 2017 at 3:50 pm #

      A good question for a future blog post.

  25. Avatar
    Janet Ann Collins July 17, 2017 at 11:58 am #

    In the last few days I’ve gotten several ads on Facebook from companies offering to do self publishing. There are already thousands of self published books out there. Does this mean there will be even more? If so, what will it do to the market?

    • Avatar
      Steve Laube July 20, 2017 at 6:43 pm #


      You must have something on your site about writing a book! The search gremlins latched onto those key words and are sending you ads!

      Yes, there will be more.

      Imagine if you didn’t have the wisdom of having attended a number of conferences and being surrounded by writers with experience and professionals to help.

      You might jump at one of those ads as the key to seeing your name in print. It has been that way for ages.

      But the ability to upload a book on Amazon or Smashwords has made “publishing” as easy as clicking a button.

  26. Avatar
    Sonja Anderson July 17, 2017 at 1:06 pm #

    Any advice on what children’s authors should do differently than other authors in terms of social media? I have seen hundreds of children become VERY excited over a contest that involved looking at something on Pinterest and posting something online, only to have just a handful actually participate; generally speaking, only kids with very involved parents managed to get the job done.

    Kids weren’t allowed access to computers or Facebook at home, or couldn’t remember what to do, despite flyers and bookmarks with relevant info, being shown on a large screen in class, etc. Any advice? Just aim at adults instead of trying to connect with the kids themselves? Thanks!

    • Avatar
      Steve Laube July 17, 2017 at 3:51 pm #

      I’ll admit to ignorance on this issue.

      My laboratory grew up with our youngest getting married this Summer.

      Any Children’s book authors out there care to weigh in?

  27. Avatar
    Edward Lane July 17, 2017 at 2:40 pm #

    Will the inclusion of Bible verses in a novel in today’s climate preclude publication? Thank you.

    • Avatar
      Steve Laube July 17, 2017 at 3:59 pm #


      “It depends.” If Bible verses are included in a ham-handed way, this it would make the book poorly written and keep it from publication.

      I don’t see “today’s climate” being much different than it’s been in this regard. There is always resistance in the general market to books that proclaim Christi crucified and exalted, whether they are fiction or non-fiction.

      Matthew 10:22 “You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.”

  28. Avatar
    Jennifer Deibel July 17, 2017 at 2:42 pm #

    I thought of one more:

    If a writer had sent a query and has yet to hear back from the agent, but then ends up with a contract offer from a publisher, is it appropriate to reach out to the agent again with that new information?

    • Avatar
      Steve Laube July 17, 2017 at 4:00 pm #


      Yes, having a contract in hand is a great way to get an agent’s attention. Sort of like a cattle prod…

      But it is still no guarantee of getting that agent to represent you.

  29. Avatar
    Carrie Burrows July 17, 2017 at 6:06 pm #

    Hi Steve– I submitted a proposal to you via USPS mail in December. I have since moved to a new home (3 hours away).

    I’m assuming my proposal was not accepted and got lost somewhere in the mail due to having a new address. Over the past 7 months, I have been doing various things to improve my historical fiction novel (including reading a book recommend by you- Self-Editing for Fiction Writers). My draft has improved drastically. So I am wondering if it is okay to resubmit to you again?

    • Avatar
      Steve Laube July 17, 2017 at 6:13 pm #


      I’m sorry your reply was lost in the mail or that it never arrived to our office in the first place. It can happen. But then email can get lost just as easily, as we have all discovered. (We moved our office two and a half years ago and people still try to send mail to the old address.)

      One rejection does not mean “Never Again! Go Away!” Unless, of course, your name is Bob Hostetler. Then the entire sentence is all caps and bold italics.

      In your cover letter say that you are resubmitting a proposal that may have been lost in the mail, but that you have made significant improvements to it.

      • Avatar
        Carrie Burrows July 17, 2017 at 9:55 pm #

        Lol! Poor Bob 😉 Glad he is part of your team now and I look forward to reading more of his blogs.

        I’m sure you must be incredibly busy. Thanks for taking time to answer my question.

  30. Avatar
    Nicola July 17, 2017 at 8:11 pm #

    How many subcategories of sci fi are there? I know about hard core with lots of technical jargon, and soft core with less. Is there ‘literary’ sci fi? Do you differentiate according to which publisher you are approaching? Do you prefer to represent one kind over another?
    I expect the question of subcategories applies to all genres, but I know you are a leading sci fi guru.

    • Avatar
      Steve Laube July 18, 2017 at 11:37 am #

      There is an official sub category classification called BISAC categories. (Book Industry Study Group) They are what are used by all publishers (even Amazon’s self publishing program) to classify books. This is Not keywords. These are the category chosen and sometimes printed on the back of the book above the bar code.
      The fiction categories can be found here:

      I didn’t make these up so don’t be too harsh in criticism. I’ve pasted the Science Fiction and the Fantasy categories for you:

      FIC028000 FICTION / Science Fiction / General

      FIC028010 FICTION / Science Fiction / Action & Adventure

      FIC028090 FICTION / Science Fiction / Alien Contact

      FICTION / Science Fiction / Alternative History see Alternative History

      FIC028070 FICTION / Science Fiction / Apocalyptic & Post-Apocalyptic

      FIC028040 FICTION / Science Fiction / Collections & Anthologies

      FIC028100 FICTION / Science Fiction / Cyberpunk

      FIC028110 FICTION / Science Fiction / Genetic Engineering

      FIC028020 FICTION / Science Fiction / Hard Science Fiction

      FIC028120 FICTION / Science Fiction / Humorous *

      FIC028050 FICTION / Science Fiction / Military

      FIC028130 FICTION / Science Fiction / Space Exploration *

      FIC028030 FICTION / Science Fiction / Space Opera

      FIC028060 FICTION / Science Fiction / Steampunk

      FIC028080 FICTION / Science Fiction / Time Travel

      FIC009000 FICTION / Fantasy / General

      FIC009100 FICTION / Fantasy / Action & Adventure *

      FIC009110 FICTION / Fantasy / Arthurian *

      FIC009040 FICTION / Fantasy / Collections & Anthologies

      FIC009010 FICTION / Fantasy / Contemporary

      FIC009070 FICTION / Fantasy / Dark Fantasy

      FIC009120 FICTION / Fantasy / Dragons & Mythical Creatures *

      FIC009020 FICTION / Fantasy / Epic

      FIC009130 FICTION / Fantasy / Gaslamp *

      FIC009030 FICTION / Fantasy / Historical

      FIC009080 FICTION / Fantasy / Humorous

      FIC009140 FICTION / Fantasy / Military *

      FIC009050 FICTION / Fantasy / Paranormal

      FIC009090 FICTION / Fantasy / Romantic

      FIC009060 FICTION / Fantasy / Urban

  31. Avatar
    Hannah Currie July 17, 2017 at 8:27 pm #

    Just wondering how acceptable it would be to resubmit a manuscript to an agent who had already passed on it, especially if it’s been a few years and the reason given (albeit the complete reason or not) for passing in the first place was that there wasn’t a lot of interest in that particular genre at the time. If times have changed, or the manuscript been worked on significantly, is it worth checking again if an agent might be interested? Half expecting a ‘it depends’ reply but thought it was worth asking all the same 🙂

    • Avatar
      Steve Laube July 18, 2017 at 11:43 am #

      Depending on the book it may not be remembered by that agent so it will be “new” again. But I would disclose the fact that you’ve sent it to them before but now it is new and improved.

      Yes, the industry changes with regard to particular genres. For awhile in the general market everything had to be about vampires. Now I don’t think it would get much interest.

      I remember back about 12 years ago Chick-Lit was the rage. It overwhelmed the entire industry. And then suddenly no wanted it. Not the consumer, not the publisher. Some authors got caught releasing novels in that genre without a readership. It was a brutal and sudden shift in the marketplace.

      Even in non-fiction topics can get hot, then not. Prophecy, Angels, Spiritual warfare, and “I went to heaven” have all been topics that went through a phase.

  32. Avatar
    Justin Swanton July 18, 2017 at 4:35 am #

    My first question: isn’t literary agenting the most demoralising job on the planet?

    I mean…you get thousands of submissions per month (or week?) written by people who’ve spent hours and hours crafting their tales, and into which they’ve poured their hearts, and who hope they will at long last achieve their lives’ dream of getting published – and who are nearly all going to be rejected.

    Personally, I couldn’t do it. I was given an MS by a budding writer to crit (he had critted mind so I owed it to him). He’d obviously put a lot of work into it – 110 000 words – and I saw after the first couple of paragraphs that commercially it didn’t have a snowball’s chance.

    Well, I did the crit but didn’t have the heart to tell him that his novel was rubbish and his best chance was to throw it away and start over, and probably keeping doing that for the next five years or so. Tough game, writing.

    Second question: what is your current turnaround time for submissions? I’ve got one with you so…you know…kinda curious. 😉

    • Avatar
      Justin Swanton July 18, 2017 at 4:43 am #

      The typos annoyed me too much. Herewith corrected:

      My first question: isn’t literary agenting the most demoralising job on the planet?

      I mean…you get thousands of submissions per month (or week?) written by people who’ve spent hours and hours crafting their tales, and into which they’ve poured their hearts, and who hope they will at long last achieve their lives’ dream of getting published – and who are nearly all going to be rejected.

      Personally, I couldn’t do it. I was given an MS by a budding writer to crit (he had critted mine so I owed it to him). He’d obviously put a lot of work into it – 110 000 words – and I saw after the first couple of paragraphs that commercially it didn’t have a snowball’s chance.

      Well, I did the crit but didn’t have the heart to tell him that his novel was rubbish and his best chance was to throw it away and start over, and probably keep doing that for the next five years or so. Tough game, writing.

      Second question: what is your current turnaround time for submissions? I’ve got one with you so…you know…kinda curious. 😉

    • Avatar
      Steve Laube July 18, 2017 at 11:46 am #

      It is never fun to know a rejection will have a negative impact on the recipient. I pray it doesn’t arrive on your birthday….

      As for how long? Currently? We are pretty much caught up through the end of May and some early June. The usual turn around is around 8 weeks.

      The ones I’m looking at on my desk however are mostly full manuscripts that came by request. Those take a long time to process.

      • Avatar
        Cynthia Mahoney February 12, 2018 at 1:12 pm #

        Hi Steve

        Late to this blog. Wonder how I miss ’em all. But question regarding time of submissions.

        You say a long time to process full manuscripts on your desk.
        Ohmygosh I know you have tons.

        How long is long? Do I nudge you via email at 6 months? Longer?

        Cindy Mahoney

  33. Avatar
    Sheri Dean Parmelee July 18, 2017 at 11:05 am #

    What is the best way to build a platform for someone who is not well known?

  34. Avatar
    Julie Sunne July 18, 2017 at 5:37 pm #

    Most memoirs that sell are based on sensational or tragic circumstances or the author has a lot of notoriety. Do you feel there is a market for a more feel-good kind of memoir, maybe a sweet or unlikely redemption story or something similar?

    • Avatar
      Steve Laube July 20, 2017 at 6:34 pm #

      You may have heard the old cliche “If it bleeds it leads.” That is why notoriety or sensational stories get the attention.

      The “normal life” story could be a little mundane to grab the attention of the marketplace. Of course that answer is awful and terrible and no good and deserves a very bad day…

      Therefore…it depends….

      It depends on the quality of the memoir writing. I’ve seen some quieter down-home memoirs in the general market that are well received. But it is the writing that makes the “living this life” stories work so well.

      You also mentioned the “unlikely redemption story”. That, again, depends on what it is and what makes it unique.

      Sorry I can’t be more specific.

      • Avatar
        Julie Sunne July 21, 2017 at 3:47 pm #

        Thanks, Steve. I understand the need to be vague on the answer, because I was vague on the idea. Maybe I’ll just craft the book proposal and see what you think. 😉

  35. Avatar
    Megan M July 19, 2017 at 2:30 pm #

    I’m a young writer, but I’m getting to the point where I’ve been writing for fun for over ten years and am now ready to take more steps toward an actual career of writing. I read all sorts of blogs and some self-help books about everything from how to actually improve my writing to marketing and building a platform.

    While all of those resources are helping a lot, I still feel a bit lost when I look at the publishing world. I’d love to have an experienced mentor to ask specific questions to or to tell me their own experiences to help me along. Recently I heard that sometimes writer groups specifically offer mentoring sessions from their members. Do you know any good Christian groups that offer those?

    Or do you have any other suggestions about how to get more personalized guidance in this big writing world?

    • Avatar
      Steve Laube July 20, 2017 at 6:36 pm #

      If you are writing fiction, join ACFW ( and find a group in your region. These groups can be quite helpful.

      Also there is an entire section in The Christian Writers Market Guide ( on writers groups.

      For example there is a national organization of writers groups called Word Weavers.

      Take a look.

      • Avatar
        Megan M July 20, 2017 at 7:13 pm #

        Thank you very much! I’ll take a look at these.

  36. Avatar
    Rebekah Dorris July 20, 2017 at 10:48 am #

    I’m helping a friend get her website and brand rolling. She’s a great communicator. How would you advise we approach the “Speaking” page of her website? She’s spoken to MOPS groups, but she’d like to venture further into the “speaker” territory. Any thoughts?

    Here’s her website:

    • Avatar
      Steve Laube July 20, 2017 at 6:26 pm #


      The easiest way is to look at other author/speaker’s web sites. See how they set it up and choose the one that resonates the best for your friend.

      • Avatar
        Rebekah Dorris July 20, 2017 at 6:47 pm #

        Thank you for that great advice! And even more, for taking time for this. It’s incredible.

        God bless!

  37. Avatar
    Mark July 24, 2017 at 7:54 pm #

    What is the typical response time we should expect when dealing with a prospective agent via email? In other words, what time frame is acceptable for a response vs. when is the prospective agent giving the impression of being overwhelmed?

    • Avatar
      Steve Laube July 24, 2017 at 7:56 pm #

      In our guidelines ( we state:

      “If you sent an e-mail proposal and don’t hear from us within 60 days, you can assume we are not going to pursue your project.”

      • Avatar
        Mark July 24, 2017 at 8:24 pm #

        Actually my situation is a bit different. I have an interested agent who wants my health/lifestyle manuscript although she has not offered an official contract. We have had six or seven email exchanges, but when she emails me a question and I reply within an hour or two, it is often two weeks to a month before she replies back.

        Incidentally, I have a second agent now interested in my manuscript who came in late to the game. I told her that I am frustrated with the slow communication with the other ‘potential’ agent, and she replied that she will be much more responsive. I’m looking to see what the ‘normal’ time frame is for an expected electronic response with an agent. Is two weeks to a month normal for simple questions, or in your opinion is this indicative of an overwhelmed or inattentive prospective agent?

        • Avatar
          Steve Laube July 25, 2017 at 9:42 am #


          I cannot and should not comment on the work habits of another agent. It is up to the author to decide if they are happy with the way their agent, or prospective agent, communicates.

          Every one works differently. But if the author is not happy with the relationship they should consider finding a different partner. It’s like any business partnership.

  38. Avatar
    parysprose July 26, 2017 at 5:24 pm #

    Where may I find a sample letter that you consider perfect for a cover letter and another for a query letter?

    • Avatar
      Steve Laube July 26, 2017 at 5:35 pm #

      On the Guidelines page on our web site, under the section on cover letters.


  1. Writing Links…7/24/17 – Where Genres Collide - July 24, 2017

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