One of the great challenges for any agent is to figure out what publishers might be looking to publish. But it gets even more complicated when you consider they are looking for books to publish a year or more into the future. Add on the time it takes to write a book and get it ready to publish, and we are all in the guessing game of what people might want to read in 2024 and beyond.
Will Covid-19 still be a “thing” in the mind of readers in 2024?
What will be the discussion around the abortion issue in three years?
What issues will confront the Church in 2024 and beyond?
Books are not blog posts commenting on something happening right now. They are about big, complicated ideas needing tens of thousands of words to fully explore and explain. They take time to write and get right.
On top of this, the publishing world is highly subjective, where no one can speak with absolute certainty about much of anything when it comes to what people will be reading several years into the future.
So, what am I looking for this year? How do I know if something is good?
I don’t know, but I know it when I see it. And even then, others might not agree with me.
Since most of my connections are with publishers of Christian-themed books, I need to start there to give an idea of what I look for in a client.
I look for authors of nonfiction works, mainly for adults but will consider nonfiction for younger groups once in a while. I will also expand to consider compelling content for children.
I do not consider authors of fiction. Other agents are far better than I for that area.
Overall, I need to view the world through the eyes of publishers, so I ask questions of potential clients consistent with publisher requirements. Other than compelling writing, here are three other things I am looking for in authors:
- Credibility: Qualified to write on the topic. Theology books by respected theologians, apologetics books by respected apologists, history books by historians, etc. Even if you are an excellent writer, you need to have the credentials accompanying whatever you create.
- Focus: Few authors navigate a wide variety of categories successfully, and they are usually successful in one before trying the other. You need to start somewhere. Pick a lane.
- Marketing: Great writing still counts, but you won’t get far without a good start on personal marketing. The lack of an author platform will be a problem down the line, so get started now if you haven’t already.
Finally, I like writers who are writing consistently or are working writers. The book they propose is not the only thing they have to show, and they are continually honing their skills.
Just like you, the agents with The Steve Laube Agency exercise our gifts, deal with disappointment, and learn to trust God more and more each day. We all pray for God’s wisdom to make wise decisions and serve authors, so they are published well.