Bring the Books (What Steve Laube Is Looking For)

Updated 1/25/2021

“Bring the books, especially the parchments,” is a sentence in 2 Timothy 4:13 that has teased readers for 2,000 years. What books did the Apostle Paul want to read while waiting for trial? Theology? History? How-to? (Maybe a little escape reading? Pun intended.)

Another writer chimed in a while ago by saying, “Of making many books there is no end” (Ecclesiastes 12:12). And if we read the statistics, he wasn’t kidding: 300,000+ books were published in the United States alone last year.

Yet there is an allure to the stories of great novelists and a fascination in the brilliance of deep thinkers. It is what drew me to the book industry in the first place, having been a lifelong reader and a burgeoning collector of my own library.

That personal allure and fascination remains unabated. I’ve had and continue to have the honor and privilege of working with some of the finest minds and talented writers in our industry. In the front part of my office I have four large book cases holding a copy of every book our agency has represented. Another section of the office holds every book I edited for Bethany House (click here to find a complete list at the end of the page). And yet another section is every book I’ve overseen as publisher for Enclave Publishing. Literally hundreds of amazing books by amazing authors. Millions of words, untold numbers of lives touched. It is truly a wonderful and remarkable thing to be part of.

Meanwhile, I am still searching for the next great story, the next great concept, the next great writer. So, to answer the question, “What are you looking for?” I will attempt to clarify a few things.

Our Door Is Always Open

Unsolicited proposals are always welcome. We sift through a couple thousand inquiries every year. My only request is that each person try their best to follow our guidelines on our website. It would astound you how many fail that simple request.

We Primarily Serve the Christian Market

We make no apology for specializing in books written from a Christian worldview. That means we sell books wherever publishers are receptive to books from that perspective. Usually those are Christian publishing companies. But we can sell books to the general market–if that publisher is interested in the content of the book our client has created.

We won’t represent books that are contrary to a Christian worldview. I once received a proposal claiming their novel included “vivid sex, graphic torture, romance, comedy….” Another proposed a nonfiction book that redefined sin as something that is actually unbiblical and should not be taught. Another claimed that Moses was “the greatest serial killer of all time.” Another had this sentence: “Jesus is not enough. The bible is not enough. We need something more.” Obviously, these authors had not done their homework regarding our agency.

I’m Looking for Fiction

I am a very eclectic reader, which reflects my work as an agent. I represent authors who write in the following genres: women’s fiction, romance, thriller, suspense, romantic suspense, literary, military, historical (all eras), contemporary, science fiction, fantasy, supernatural, YA–in other words, every genre published in the industry.

I’m looking for unique story lines with a well-refined craft. If something is 80% ready, I’ll probably reject it. In school a grade score of 80 would be a low B. Our industry is looking for the A+.

I’m Looking for Nonfiction

These eclectic tastes are also exhibited by the types of nonfiction books and authors represented: Christian living, biography, apologetics, theology, Bible study, reference, health, finance, self-help, psychology, grief, suffering, marriage, family, women’s, men’s, philosophy, church life, devotional, inspirational, social issues, politics, parenting, music, and art. The subjects are vast, the opportunities endless.

I am looking for unique ideas by great writers. But as the market has changed, so have some of the demands on the nonfiction author. Your project has to be more than an extended magazine article. It has to have something special that will make the major publisher jump at the chance to invest in you and your work. It can be your platform. It can be the power of your idea. It can be that your writing is unique and compelling. And if you can bring all three, I’m confident we can find you a publishing partner.

A Limit to My Expertise

I tend to be very limited when it comes to children’s picture books. Yes, I represent some wonderful authors in that category, but it is not a market I typically will sign a debut author. If you are already an established and successful children’s book writer or if you come highly recommended by one who is, I will gladly take a look. But generally this is not a category I am actively pursuing.

Please do not send me your cookbook ideas. I may look like I know how to eat, but it doesn’t mean I know the first thing about cooking.

A Limit to My Exceptions

It is a little aggravating when someone sends me their cookbook with this first sentence: “I know you say you don’t want cookbooks, but I think you will make an exception with mine.” (This happens more than you might realize.) Asking for an exception is bold, but it is also a waste of time for both the author and for me.

Hard Copy versus Email

You can send your proposal to me via email. (See our guidelines.) But if you send it to me via hard copy with a SASE, I guarantee you will get a response from me. It might be a simple “no thank you,” but you will receive a reply. But please do not expect a critique or even a suggestion. We are not a free editorial service.

The danger of the email inbox is that it gets crowded quickly, and your project slowly scrolls off the screen and can very well be forgotten. I try to go through email submissions, but that inbox is crowded. This past week my email submission inbox received thirty-two proposals. On the other hand, hard copy proposals always get reviewed in-house and then sit on my desk with the reviewer comments until I review them myself. I’m aware this is rather old-school, but it works for me. It is your choice of which way you want to send your project to my attention. However, note that this is unique to me, Steve Laube, at our agency. The other agents are quite comfortable with email submissions and prefer them!

37 Responses to Bring the Books (What Steve Laube Is Looking For)

  1. Avatar
    Steve Laube February 10, 2014 at 9:27 am #

    Diane,
    So true! Already in the planning.
    And you reminded me of that famous line from the movie “Jaws.” See that clip here: http://youtu.be/8gciFoEbOA8

    • Avatar
      Amy Boucher Pye February 11, 2014 at 12:01 am #

      HIlarious! But who is the shark in this scenario?

    • Avatar
      Kathy M Storrie July 3, 2017 at 11:36 am #

      Dear Mr. Laube, the “Jaws” clip is gone and I can’t remember the famous line! I have been lost at sea for 7 years looking for a down-to-earth agent, catch. I found your site, and I don’t think it was by accident because I’ve learned a lot already. Your list of authors is impressive and the Guidelines are reasonable. Are you still accepting the “hard copy” SASE Proposal? If so, do you need 2 or 3 chapters of my novel? And, do you accept book series? Thank you!

      • Avatar
        Steve Laube July 3, 2017 at 11:48 am #

        Kathy,

        The guidelines have not changed. I accept hard copy proposals or email proposals. Note the difference in the guidelines.

        Also need three chapters.

        Series are fine.

        • Avatar
          Jason Beavers May 15, 2018 at 12:03 pm #

          Is the 50 page limit a hard limt? Or do you want 3 complete chapters, even if the page number hits 51 or 52?

          • Avatar
            Eileen Shutok-Cutright July 4, 2020 at 9:36 am #

            Steve, thank you for your personal and detailed article. I really appreciate you, your faith, and your experience.

            My book is about Spiritual Senses and how to Develop them and Use them under the Leadership of the Holy Spirit.

            I am now encouraged to send you a proposal. So helped by you! Go bless!

    • Avatar
      Steve Laube July 3, 2017 at 11:46 am #

      “We’re gonna need a bigger boat”

      https://youtu.be/VquLerRp-ps

  2. Avatar
    Steve Laube February 10, 2014 at 9:36 am #

    Terika,
    Two answers.
    1) Sending something certified mail is perfectly okay. If you want the security of knowing it has been received.

    2) I don’t like to say “no” unless I’ve seen it. When I was an editor for Bethany House I told an author that a book like you describe would have a tough go of it in our market. That unpublished author wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. She got that book, SHADOW OF DREAMS, published elsewhere (in 2001). And now Eva Marie Everson is a highly successful novelist and the director of the Florida Writers Conference. She has the talent to make a story like that palatable for a wide readership. And that is the key.

    • Avatar
      Terika Farmer February 10, 2014 at 10:23 am #

      Steve:
      I really appreciate your response.

      Terika

  3. Avatar
    Steve Laube February 10, 2014 at 9:41 am #

    Jeanne,

    What makes a story unique? I can only answer with the non-answer of “I know it when I see it.” What is one man’s treasure is another man’s throw-away. Thus is the subjective nature of this industry.

    Recent examples of “unique” books by first-time authors that I was able to place include CHURCH ZERO by Peyton Jones and UNTIL WE ALL COME HOME by Kim de Blecourt and CAST OF STONES by Patrick Carr. (One non-fiction, one memoir, and one fantasy novel.)

  4. Avatar
    Steve Laube February 10, 2014 at 9:45 am #

    Pamela,
    I had the privilege of discovering Jennie Allen at the Mt. Hermon writers conference a few years ago. I was able to sell her first two books and her DVD Curriculum titles, like STUCK and CHASE, to Thomas Nelson. However, as part of her need for a different type of representation, to help with her recent IF: GATHERING conference which was held last weekend, she moved to a different agency.

    • Avatar
      Laura Loveberry May 17, 2016 at 12:16 pm #

      Steve Laube,

      Hhhhhmmmmm. We may be a fit if you are looking for another speaker who wants to impact other women with the written word as well. As a inspirational speaker for the last 15+ years while teaching 40 hours, I have stepped out to go full-time speaker/writer. I am told my style is a more jazzy Jennie Allen x 10 with over-the-top energy, bling and humor packed messages based on applying Scriptures (“Queen of Quite a Lot” is one my newest messages based on Esther and the unexpected zig-zag life).

      I have a third book inside me relentlessly begging me to share our family special-need adoption story with raw reality and hilarious, you-can’t-make-this- stuff-up humor to encourage the wiped-out warrior women readers. I can see a women’s study on the back side.

      And yes, I need major proofreading because my out-of-the-box inspirational speaking is my more my strength, although I write for a couple regional magazines, and have 2 self-published books and DVD’s I make available when I speak. I am comfortable self-publishing, but your blog comment above is drawing me to check out the possibility of lining up an agent who would be a natural fit to finding me a publisher. Hhhhhmmmmm. Perhaps I need to send in a submission.

      Laura Loveberry,
      http://www.lauraloveberry.com

  5. Avatar
    Steve Laube February 10, 2014 at 9:47 am #

    Erin,

    Parts of the office are immaculate. There are nearly 5,000 books in my office/library. But my desk is a place where I work out of piles instead of files. It is an abject disaster.

  6. Avatar
    Steve Laube February 10, 2014 at 9:51 am #

    Gail,

    That would be fun.
    It is really quite extraordinary to have those books lined up together. And then to consider that over 11 million people have bought these books over the last ten years. It is both my prayer and my hope that the ministry of these words continue to impact the lives of their readers.

    • Avatar
      Terika Farmer February 10, 2014 at 1:52 pm #

      Gail:
      This is my dream too.

      Best wishes on your writing endeavors.

      Terika

  7. Avatar
    Steve Laube February 10, 2014 at 9:53 am #

    Martha,
    You are too gracious. Way back in those beginnings you took the time, risk, and investment to go to a conference and lay your ideas in front of a stranger who worked for a publishing company. That step is one of many you took, following the urging of the Spirit, along the journey toward publication. Ultimately you connected with Tamela and history was made. Well done.

    Steve

  8. Avatar
    Steve Laube March 8, 2014 at 12:30 pm #

    A CD is not something I like to work with. Either send the proposal as an attachment to an email (following the guidelines) or send a hard copy as mentioned above.

    A CD is like an attachment as I still have to have it printed out to get it reviewed properly in-house.

    But I can say that a “non-fiction” action adventure of Biblical people would not be of interest to the publishers we work with.

    And we do not work with screenplays. That is a highly specialized discipline with the need for a different network than we have.

  9. Avatar
    Steve Laube March 8, 2014 at 12:32 pm #

    I’ll write a blog about how to submit a self-published book. Thank you for the suggestion.

    In a nutshell? I suggest acting like the book doesn’t exist. Instead start fresh with the proposal materials and the sample chapters. That way it is the words on the page that you are selling and there is no influence, good or bad with the finished product.

    Steve

  10. Avatar
    cyndi mosteller July 27, 2015 at 7:08 am #

    Question:

    If we have a book (under 45 minute read) for 10-20 years olds, their parents and professors (yes, an unusual age range, but the book works it!), to whom would you suggest it be sent? Do you have a division for such an age group?

    Xn Thanks –

  11. Avatar
    Steve Laube January 22, 2016 at 1:36 pm #

    Jacqueline,

    It’s simple. I ran out of room. I have to add another bookcase soon.

    Stacking vertically with the larger spaces added room on the shelf.

    Steve

  12. Avatar
    Steve Laube April 1, 2016 at 5:17 pm #

    The Steve Laube Agency is a completely separate entity and company from Enclave Publishing. Agents from the Steve Laube Agency have to submit proposals to Enclave just like anyone else.

    Thus the needs of the agency are not the needs of Enclave Publishing. Enclave is a Science Fiction and Fantasy publisher.

    The Steve Laube Agency represents all genres, fiction and non-fiction, that come from a Christian worldview.

    It just so happens that I, Steve Laube, wear two hats. By “day” I am a literary agent who owns and runs The Steve Laube Agency.

    As a side job, because I love the genre and have been invested in it for decades, I work with Enclave publishing opportunities.

    Please do not mix the two.

    Steve Laube

    • Avatar
      Hannah April 1, 2016 at 5:19 pm #

      Ok sorry about that

  13. Avatar
    Cindy February 11, 2017 at 10:42 pm #

    Hi Terika

    I like the redemptive stories of lives — look at who Jesus had as disciples, who followed him, who doubted, betrayed — and even though they believed. Jesus turned water into wine, not grape juice, and how condemning for someone who drinks a glass of wine (and maybe one too many once) to read such perfect Christians, and it is rampant. Someone’s “great sin” is like, ‘oh I got really angry at so-and-so.’ And what about backsliding? Who of us have not — at least once, fallen into sin — no matter what? So, I agree with you, your message of redemption of each person no matter the situation is a much welcomed idea. Sin is sin. Paul reminded the church to talk with the person who had fallen into sin, then on up to the pastor, and no change? Out, til they repent. St Paul was quite cognizant of backsliding, poor judgment and used it in his letters. I know and read an Indie author who has multiple novels regarding these same things, and she’s been on TV interviewed for her books, and one going to a Hallmark show. Keep on writing. And all God’s children said, amen.

  14. Avatar
    TJ Marquis July 4, 2019 at 10:08 am #

    Yeah, I figured I’d try though. Spent enough time mining the site for details, so a few minutes to leave a question didn’t seem entirely pointless. Either way, it took me to the blogs, which have a lot of great material, so hooray!

  15. Avatar
    Kristen Joy Wilks January 25, 2021 at 7:08 am #

    It’s good to get an update on what you’re looking for, Steve! I’m transfixed by one of the genres that isn’t your focus right now (middle grade) but you never know. At least my manuscripts aren’t cook books for middle grade children, right?

  16. Avatar
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser January 25, 2021 at 7:38 am #

    I wonder if this story
    is one folks want to hear;
    it’s testament to glory
    amidst the thorns of fear.
    It’s not about a cuddle-God,
    but One who’s stern and straight,
    and even though my life was flawed
    and cancer is my fate,
    in my heart He doth abide,
    and walks beneath the blue-sky dome
    always, always at my side
    to speak of my eternal home,
    and forsking all His dignity,
    in the night He weeps for me.

  17. Avatar
    Sheri Dean Parmelee, Ph.D. January 25, 2021 at 2:49 pm #

    Thanks for the update, Steve. I hope to return to writing more than comments to your postings soon…. The last semester was brutal.

  18. Avatar
    Thomas Fleming January 25, 2021 at 8:33 pm #

    I self published a fantasy superhero book for YA in 2016. I was never good enough with the marketing. Reviews on Amazon have been good but it’s lost in the shuffle. It came out in 2016? I wrote the story to be produced as a film more than a book. It is a decent story written from a philosophical Christian perspective of good being invaded by evil. Celestial horses come as superheroes to save a planet on the verge of destruction. Am I barking up the wrong tree or are there any possibilities for an agent and a new publisher like you to have any interest?

  19. Avatar
    red January 27, 2021 at 6:20 am #

    I’m awed, first, by that library. Next, it’s fascinating that you have such a wide enjoyment in genre. This is how my parents raised their children. Historical which includes Western, Romance, Horror, and now SF. contemporary tales and more.

    Writing is a passion much like raising children. It’s not something we can do alone, but a whole lot of prayer turns stress into words into chapters, into books. God’s peace be on you.

  20. Avatar
    Peggy Rychwa/Sheryl Marcoux January 28, 2021 at 8:49 am #

    Thank you all for reviewing and updating us in what you’re looking for. I’ve been working on a Vietnam conflict era novel. I’ve been keeping an eye on you, Steve, hoping that you’d still be interested in a novel that entails Christian worldview, military, and women’s fiction. God willing, I’ll have the manuscript critiqued and polished, and a hard copy proposal on your desk within the next two months.

  21. Avatar
    Samara Risner January 29, 2021 at 4:52 am #

    I can’t wait to send my proposal to you Mr. Laube. Your love for reading and what you do gets me excited at the chance to work with you! Be on the lookout for The Imaginarium

  22. Avatar
    Iris Carignan February 2, 2021 at 10:41 pm #

    HI Steve been loving your blog posts and so appreciate your informative website My novel is completed and I plan to submit it to you soon. I’ve done lots of self editing but know the importance of good professional editing. Question is, do you want my manuscript professionally edited before submittal?

    Thanks, Iris

  23. Avatar
    OLUSOLA SOPHIA ANYANWU February 12, 2021 at 6:18 am #

    Thanks for the clarification, Mr Laube! God bless you!

  24. Avatar
    Daniel February 22, 2021 at 8:58 am #

    Hello Steve.
    I would like to appreciate all the time and effort you have taken to enlighten us on submission guidelines. My worry is that being in Kenya, sending a proposal via hardcopy would be quite a challenge. Do you consider the geographical location of the author?
    Thanks

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