“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 are published in the United States alone each year.
Yet there is an allure to the stories of great novelists and a fascination with the brilliance of deep thinkers. It is what drew me to the book industry in the first place, having been a lifelong reader and an insatiable collector of my own burgeoning library. (My wife and I own somewhere close to 10,000 books.)
That personal allure and fascination remain 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 six large bookcases holding a copy of every book our agency has represented. Another section of the office holds every book I edited for Bethany House Publishers (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, and 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 tries 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 the novel included “vivid sex, graphic torture, romance, comedy.” Another writer proposed a nonfiction book that redefined sin as something that was 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 an 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, Amish, 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
My 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.
If it is your personal story, like a memoir, please read this post first: “When Your Book Becomes Personal.”
I am looking for unique ideas from 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 a 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 limited when it comes to children’s picture books. Yes, I represent some wonderful authors in that category; but it is not a market in which 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 me.
How to Send Your Proposal
You can send your proposal to me via email. (Please read our guidelines! See that exclamation point?) Or you can send it to me via hard copy with a SASE (self-addressed, stamped envelope). 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.
Please note that it can take up to 12 weeks to get to your proposal (even longer if it gets buried in the email inbox). I am not always that slow, but please don’t expect a response in 48 hours.
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.
Eva Marie Everson
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.
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.)
This is my dream too.
Best wishes on your writing endeavors.
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.
How to submit a self-published book.
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.
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.
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.
Kristen Joy Wilks
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?
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.
That’s beautiful, Andrew.
Peggy, thank you.
Sheri Dean Parmelee, Ph.D.
Thanks for the update, Steve. I hope to return to writing more than comments to your postings soon…. The last semester was brutal.
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?
This post should answer your question:
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.
Peggy Rychwa/Sheryl Marcoux
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.
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
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?
OLUSOLA SOPHIA ANYANWU
Thanks for the clarification, Mr Laube! God bless you!
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?
Dear Mr. Laube
I’ve sent you my “The blind Princess Elizabeth and forest goblin Mark”.
Can I hope for you will find time to get to know my novel?
With respect to you, Victor Sуvak.
Plagiarism- Hello Steve. Some years ago one one of my works of copyrig hted fiction was plagiarized. I’ve been searching for answers and opinions on the best way to proceed. I now want to publish my own version of my ‘little’ story that I authored years ago. Issue is, a ‘friend’ to my material to an associate and sections of it were published in what became a relatively successful text, (I’d call their treatment of the material disgusting). Guess that’s neither hear nor there.
Basically, I’d copyrighted my text years ago. Because ‘they’ would be represented by a large publishing house, I did not press for representation.
Currently, I simply want to self-publish my version. Seems difficult to get attorneys that are truly knowledgable and/ or will not also rip off my material.
Should I simply go for it? Self publish on Amazon . . . .Or do I have to worry about the ‘hawks’ saying that I plagiarized myself? I welcome any comments / opinions. Thanks.
Perhaps I’ll send my epic poem
that takes the reader to the stars,
a classy, hip, and streamlined tome
called ‘Beowulf On Mars”,
in which eponymous hero,
who gave ol’ Hrothgar all he had,
and whose energy’s now zero
comes to learn that Grendel’s dad
has done escaped Earth’s gravity
for the mystic Planet Red,
so for closure and finality
our Beo goes to make him dead,
but finding Monster in the end
learns the beast can be a friend.
Darlene N. Böcek
You are our hero, Steve. Thanks for sharing these things.
I love that you still accept hard copies! Mine should be on your desk and I cannot wait to hear back!
Kristen Joy Wilks
Thank you for the update, Steve! It is good to know what you are looking for and that I should definitely send a hard copy of my children’s cookbook of messy and easily spilled meals: compiled by helpful and hungry dogs!
(1) This is awesome, but having read the guidelines I am daunted by the fact that I have no platform. A major reason for writing my leadership book was that the voices of the LED – the platformless – are largely absent from the genre. Needing to be famous before you even start means that first-time authors & self publishers are largely disqualified before they even begin. And those voices will continue to be absent. The gap will remain.
(2) I’m curious … is there a rationale behind the agency preferring to see three chapters on A4 sheets, rather than the sweet, polished-looking little paperback itself? I would so love to send in the finished-for-now product.
We receive sample books all the time as “proposals.” But there is a risk.
1) if the packaging isn’t of a high quality (cover, typesetting, printing) it reflects on the professionalism of the author.
2) it mean’s it is already published and makes it harder to pitch as something “new, never before seen!” project.
Yes, platform is an issue. Except when it isn’t. A couple years ago I sold a non-fiction book from an author with very little platform. How? The author’s content was stellar. The topic was unique and filled a niche.
Have you thought of offering a short, even three line critique for a small sum of $50-$100. It would be helpful to know areas needing the most work. An agent probably would know after reading one submitted page whether there is any potential. Truth might be the most kind response.
That idea has been floated at me for many years. The problem is that there are too many scam artists out there who offer similar critiques.
One signal of an agent who may not be on the up and up is that they ask for money up front… like a reading fee. So I have kept our agency from ever getting into that world.
Think about it though. If we charged $100 for a few lines of critique on one quarter of the proposals my office gets we’d make an extra $50,000. But I think integrity is priceless and would rather have that then some extra cash. 🙂
Thanks for this post! I appreciate the clarity surrounding your submission guidelines, and I look forward to working within these parameters when the time comes. From what I can gather, your guidelines are the same from when I proposed my suspense novel to you a couple years ago, which simplifies the process for me (to a degree…proposing a project to an agent is never a simple task)! Again, thank you for post and for your hard work in this industry.
Guidelines haven’t really changed in the 18 years our agency has been in business. Makes it simpler to sort out.
A. L. L. C
Love your Gratitude Tiffany
Hi Mr. Laube!
I’m a novelist from New Zealand, so I’m not sure how practical it would be for me to mail a hard copy proposal — would email be fine in this instance?
Also, I have downloaded and listened to your book-proposal course on the Christians Writers Institute — it’s an amazing course, and it taught me so much, thank you! And all the content on your blog is great; your post on ‘The Slush Pile, Enter at Your Own Risk’ made me laugh when I read some of the pitches you’ve had over the years!
I do have a question. I understand from reading this website that you have overseas authors you represent, including one from my country. As an overseas author who doesn’t live in America, will I be considered behind the game for not having speaking engagement or media experience? Only famous people in my country generally end up at conferences or on tv, and I’m just a young author from a small town who loves telling stories to the best of my abilities.
I feel bad because I want to make my book proposal the best it can be, but I have no idea how I’d arrange book tours or media coverage in America. I do have a lot of online marketing ideas, though.
Thank you for all the time you spend on this blog and helping authors understand the industry — the things you and your colleagues have written have educated and encouraged me, more than I can express.
I have very similar questions given that I’m currently located in Brisbane, Australia. I’m from the US, but obviously, the Christian publishing realm is different on this side of the world. Thanks for posing these questions!
Hadassah and Tiffany,
The issue of overseas authors is a real one.
It can be overcome, but an author’s platform is the size of the book-buying public that author brings with them to the table. If it is too small then the publisher’s investment is at risk. They would rather invest their time and money on a book that will pay for itself and generate a profit. It is that simple.
Yes, our agency has authors in Australia, Canada, South Africa, and the UK. Each has their own unique challenges. Especially with travel restrictions.
Location is a factor, but not the only one. So if a book is really amazing, can overcome ocean-wide differences, and the author has a great following/constituency, then it will have a chance with the major publishers.
But those are some big mountains to climb in this competitive business.
That is why I am so grateful for the relatively inexpensive Indie options that authors can utilize with print-on-demand and ebook production. Allows for a book to be produced and minister, but without the need for a massive investment from a major publisher.
By the way, if you are from outside the US, you can still email a proposal. Happens every day in my assistant’s proposal inbox.
You’re welcome, Tiffany! And thank you for your answer, Mr. Laube.
Should I send my prologue along with the first 3 chapters, as well as the pronunciation guide (it’s a fantasy) that goes at the start of the book? Or should these be omitted? I think they both come under the front matter.
Thank you for all your replies. And I’m glad that email will work!
Carolyn E. Phillips
Thanks for the information, Steve. I am a published author with a strong track record in Christian publishing, who is now writing novels, and hoping to be published again. The problem is it’s been a long time since my last book was published again. Unfortunately, I am about as “well-known” as anyone just starting out.
To get my name “out there” again, I am thinking of self-publishing and re-releasing one of my books that was a best seller (250,000 copies sold worldwide, in eight languages). It is still circulating on Amazon, etc., a novelized true story about a little girl who lost a leg to cancer, and went on to became an award-winning skier and horseback rider. I own the rights, and would very much appreciate your advice.
Thank you for keeping your wishlist (and turnaround time) up to date, and for continuing to accept unsolicited proposals despite your current workload. Much appreciated!
Thank you, Steve, for your comments about the Christian market. I look forward to my “15 minutes of fame” with you at WCCW this month.
Would you consider accepting a self-published book that is already available online? I have a Christian sci-fi novel in print on Amazon’s print on demand system, also as an audiobook. I originally published it through PublishAmerica, now defunct. I could send it to you in pdf format. Just wondering if you ever get books with that background?
There are now no bright tales left
in my heart or soul;
something inside has been cleft,
and cannot be made whole,
but I will remain here
in this community,
that I may stand yet stand and cheer
other on to victory,
for cancer’s taught love’s value
and altruism’s worth,
and these in turn taught it is true,
that dying is rebirth,
and that the warmth of others’ glory
is fitting ending to my story.
A. L. L. C
What is strange Andrew, it sounds like you have thrown in the towel.
Stand and battle, fight on by doing what you love to don’t go into discourgement for one moment. Love you brother stay strong.
A.L.L.C., thank you so much for this grace, this encouragement.
I’m not throwing in the towel, but my time as a novelist has passed. I can’t physically use a standing or sitting desk for any length of time, and can’t speak clearly enough to dictate. All I do now is on a Smartphone.
It was fun; there are two novels out there, look under my name on Amazon if you’re interested. I like them.
There are a couple more that I just didn’t have the energy to bring to Kindle. One, that I maybe like best of all.
At any rate, there are no stories left. Fell circumstance has taken gentleness of narrative. What I can now write, I don’t want to write.
And so, the sonnets as blog-post comments (I don’t write them for any other purpose). I want all of you to succeed; I want to give you hope and laughter.
And I want to give you love.
Andrew, I came back after two years rehab of a bad surprise stroke. As newly here I missed you.
But now, glad to see you.
Carla Jo, it’s so good to see you back!!!!
A. L. L. C
Can my blog be of any interest? Let’s talk about it.
God bless your beautiful, eternal soul, and thank you for this and all of your poems.
Sy, thank you so much for this. Bless you, my friend.
Steve’s emails are always great and informative. However, a while back, after watching the webinar with Steve and Thomas Ustead (sp?) about what traditional publishers expect from authors today versus years ago, there is no way I can comply. I’ve published with traditional publishers before (Kregel), but even though I’m a very active and astute 91-year-old, there is no way I have the energy and the technical know-how to do everything Steve described to promote a book. This saddens me because, as the old humorous saying goes, I’ve still got a book inside me waiting to get out. My only recourse now is to resort to writing articles on my blog. I’ve emotionally accepted that now, but it’s still sad for some of us.
Sheri Dean Parmelee, Ph.D.
Steve, I guess you still don’t want a manuscript stuffed under the stall door at a writers’ conference? Your example given in Nashville so many years ago really made an impression, as you can see.