To Romance or Not to Romance

 

According to St. Teresa of Avila’s biography, the battle over romance novels has been going on at least since the 1500s:

Teresa’s father was rigidly honest and pious, but he may have carried his strictness to extremes. Teresa’s mother loved romance novels but because her husband objected to these fanciful books, she hid the books from him. This put Teresa in the middle — especially since she liked the romances too. Her father told her never to lie but her mother told her not to tell her father. Later she said she was always afraid that no matter what she did she was going to do everything wrong.

Those of us who write, represent, and publish Christian romance novels can be made to feel the same way when our brothers and sisters in Christ object to our efforts to provide readers with God-honoring entertainment.  I have spoken with authors whose pastors have derided their writing, read negative blogs, and heard conference speakers criticize Christian romance novels.

Why?

Some feel that romance novels are too frivolous. I ask those who make this charge if they are willing to give up everything in their lives that could be considered frivolous. And if so, I maintain that would be a mistake. God created the Sabbath for rest and recreation. For further reading, The Baptist Press addresses what the Bible says about leisure time.

Another reason detractors cite is that these stories set the bar too high for marriage because no hero can live up to the Christian romance hero. Really? The Christian romances I read show the heroes as flawed but doing their best to follow the Lord. Isn’t this the type of man you would want for your daughter? Isn’t this how you are teaching your son? Consider many of the alternatives in secular literature. Even some of the most noble heroes in literature don’t have a relationship with Christ nor do they desire one. And Christian romance heroines are the type of women readers can admire. By struggling along with the heroines, women can learn how to deal with their own personal conflicts.

These stories show role models in the context of romance. Those who disagree with the idea of role models should stop going to church if they look up to their pastors. And this viewpoint makes teaching Sunday School dangerous. Wouldn’t want to be a role model for anyone.

On a related note, I have heard that reading romance novels depresses some women, making them unhappy with their own marriages. This observation pains my heart because no one I know involved in any aspect of publishing Christian romance hopes these stories will bring sorrow and unhappiness to readers.  Regrettably, unhappy marriages will exist whether or not Christian romance is published.

If reading these novels makes you depressed, you have a choice of two actions. One, you can stop reading them.

I prefer the second option. That is, you can ask yourself why the story is bothering you, and ask God what He is telling you through the book. You may be embarrassed that God is using a lighthearted story to reach you, but no one else has to know how God talks to you. That is between you and God. The point is to listen to His personal message to you and pray about what He would have you do.

The Christian publishing industry has so much to offer. We publish books across all genres, and for all tastes. Rather than cut each other down because we don’t like a certain type of book, why not build each other up?

Paul wrote in Romans 14:19:  Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.

 

Peace be with you, and whatever your taste, enjoy your leisure reading.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Myth of the Unearned Advance

by Steve Laube

A common myth permeating the industry is that a book is not profitable if the author’s advance does not earn out. I would like to attempt to dispel this myth.

First let’s define the term “Advance.” When a book contract is created between a publisher and an author, the author is usually paid an advance. This is like getting an advance against your allowance when you were a kid. It isn’t an amount that is in addition to any future earnings from the sale of the book. Instead, like that allowance, it is money paid in advance against all future royalties, and it must therefore be covered by royalty revenue (i.e. earned out) before any new royalty earnings are paid.

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Writing that Sings

As I’ve started the work of being an agent and building a client list, I’ve had a number of folks in different venues ask me what I’m interested in representing. So thought I’d address that here.

First and foremost, you need to know that I’m looking for books that share God’s truth. I want to work with authors whose books will change lives. Who bring the depth and wealth of their own spiritual journeys to whatever they are writing. I long for books, whether fiction or nonfiction, that are filled with authenticity, vulnerability, and powerful truth.

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Happy to be Here!

HAPPY TO BE HERE!

I am thrilled to be a part of The Steve Laube Agency and to post my first blog entry. I have been asked lots of questions about my new venture. I’ll answer a few here.

Will you continue to represent Christian romance novels?

Yes, I will! Steve was familiar with my client list when I joined the agency and we both believe Christian fiction is a vital part of publishing.

I am passionate about Christian romance novels. The talent of my clients, the dedication of the editors, and the support of the publishers make this endeavor worthy and God-honoring.

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The Passing of a Friend

My friend Bill Reynolds, known as “Mr. Bible,” has passed away. In his career as a Bible salesman he sold over one million copies! He was one of the first sales reps to ever sell to me when I first started in the industry as a bookseller with The Berean Christian Stores. He was always cheerful and took a sincere interest in my life and development as a Christian, a father, and a bookseller. I will always treasure our friendship.

After reading of his passing, a number of memories flooded back.

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More Great News for the Agency!

In the final step of our current expansion we are excited to announce that Karen Ball is joining The Steve Laube Agency as a new literary agent for the firm.

Karen is one of the most widely respected editors in the publishing business. For nearly 30 years she has built  and led successful fiction lines for Tyndale, Multnomah, Zondervan, and, most recently, the B&H Publishing Group. She’s had the honor of discovering several of the best-selling CBA novelists, including Francine Rivers, Karen Kingsbury, Sharon Ewell Foster, Liz Curtis Higgs, and, most recently, Ginny Yttrup (a Steve Laube Agency client), whose debut novel Publisher’s Weekly declared “a masterpiece!”

Karen has also worked with numerous top novelists, including Angela Hunt, Robin Jones Gunn, Robin Lee Hatcher, Brandilyn Collins, and many others. In addition, Karen is a best-selling, award-winning novelist and a popular speaker. She will work out of her office in Oregon where she lives with her husband, father, and two four-legged, furry “kids.”

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A New Agent Joins Us!

We are thrilled to announce that Tamela Hancock Murray is joining The Steve Laube Agency as a new literary agent for the firm. For the last ten years she has been with the Hartline Literary Agency representing a number of successful authors.

She interned on Capitol Hill and at the U.S. Department of State before graduating with honors in Journalism from Lynchburg College in Virginia. Tamela brings significant writing expertise to the agency as an  author of twenty novels, novellas, and nonfiction works. When she’s not working as an agent Tamela spends time with her husband and their two daughters.

She will be working out of her office in Virginia, giving the agency a specific East Coast connection.

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A Defense of Traditional Publishing: Part Five

INFRASTRUCTURE

The more I write on this series the more “boring” it seems to become. Why? Because I’m not revealing anything particularly new or uncovering the secret to getting published. However, the goal has been to talk about things that the traditional can do quite well. And this series ultimately is a journey through the innards of the publishing business.

Today we discuss infrastructure. I’m talking about the yawn-worthy topics of accounting, licensing, legal protection, and metadata.

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A Defense of Traditional Publishing: Part Four

DESIGN

Napoleon Bonaparte, is supposed to have said, “Un bon croquis vaut mieux qu’un long discours,” translated “A good sketch is better than a long speech.” That has morphed into the modern phrase “A picture is worth a thousand words,” which is a fundamental truth when talking of book covers.

Another cliché states, “don’t judge a book by its cover,” but we do it all the time. We are a visual people and our eyes are drawn to images that capture our imagination. In my opinion, the title and the cover vie for preeminence as the most important part of the presentation of a book to a potential reader.

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A Defense of Traditional Publishing: Part Three

CONTENT DEVELOPMENT

I need to clarify what I’m attempting to do with this series of posts. I am not digging deeper trenches and pouring the dirt over a head that is already buried in the sand. Some think I’m defending a dying industry and failing to see the changes around it. This series is merely an attempt to remind us what traditional publishers do well. Their critics are jettisoning all of traditional publishing as antiquated. But I posit that there is good to be found in the things that brought publishing to this place.

Today’s topic is Content Development – or more simply, “Editorial.”

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