A Literary Agent Guarantees Your Publishing Success (Or Not?)

You finally landed your “dream” agent. You did the hard work and crafted your manuscript. Created a stellar proposal. Comported yourself with excellence during the phone/Zoom calls. Congratulations. Now you can sit back and let the agent do their magic. All you have to do is start planning for your retirement with all the dough that is going to flow in your direction. Right?

Sorry. Connecting with a literary agent is only the next important step in your journey. To have a long-term career as a writer, you’ll need to continue to build your platform a little more each month. You still need to improve your writing craft in order to communicate your material (fiction or nonfiction). And more.

What you do have with an agent is a crucial business partner. An expert who can help you navigate the labyrinth of the publishing journey. Someone who knows where the speed bumps and potholes are before you hit them. A proverbial shock absorber (!!!).

It is true that you can now have your agent shop your book project to the right publishers. Our agency has worked hard, so when a proposal from one of us is placed in front of the right editor, they will hopefully say, “Oh good! Wonder what they have for me to review today?” Rather than, “Oh no, another big waste of my time.”

But even then, it may not capture any publisher’s attention. It happens, I’m sorry to report. There are times when we send a proposal out to 20 major publishers and editors and get 100% “no thanks” in return.

But all that means is that ONE project didn’t connect … TODAY. There might be another idea that may work better … TOMORROW. Having that agent on your team means your chances for tomorrow are better than they would be without the agent.

To overuse a sports metaphor, your journey is more of an iron-man competition than a 40-yard dash. As such, you’d be wise to have the right coach, trainer, and manager in your circle.

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When Your Proposal Doesn’t Sell

by Steve Laube

It happens. Despite all efforts and good intentions not every proposal we shop will end up being contracted by a major publisher. Of course our agency tries our best to keep that from happening. We carefully choose which projects and authors we represent. And our success rate is extremely high.

But that success rate is not 100%.

Here are a few examples of projects that I represented in past years that did not sell to a major publisher.

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Ten Years!

Ten years ago this week Tamela Hancock Murray signed an agreement to become a part of our agency. Ten years! I was honored then and remain honored that she is part of our team. From managing dozens of fabulous authors to successfully landing hundreds of new book deals, she works …

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Bring the Books (What Steve Laube Is Looking For)

“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+ published in the United States alone last year.

And 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.

I can safely say that the 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. The photo above is from my office showing every book represented by our agency. Hundreds of amazing books by amazing authors.

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.

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What I Am Looking For (Dan Balow)

(Updated 1/10/2021) Since my primary editor connections are with publishers of Christian-themed books, I need to start there, but can expand to the general market in certain circumstances. I am looking for authors of nonfiction works for adults but will consider nonfiction for younger groups once in a while. I …

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Welcome Back, Dan Balow!

by Steve Laube

I am very excited to announce that Dan Balow has joined our agency as the Director of Publishing Development and Literary Agent. This gives us four members of our team, me, Tamela Hancock Murray, Karen Ball, and Dan.

I’ve been looking for ways to increase the services our agency provides to current and potential clients. I have known Dan for 15 years and by adding him to our agency we can expand our role in helping to maximize our client’s sales, work with ministries and organizations to develop their publishing efforts, and expand our reach internationally. Dan’s strengths are his understanding of book marketing, what it takes to be successful in the current publishing environment and how all the pieces of the publishing “puzzle” fit together. Our team has expertise in all facets of the industry, writer, bookseller, editor, marketer, agent, executive management, and publisher.

Dan is a 30 year veteran of the Christian publishing industry. He was the director of marketing for Tyndale House Publishers working with authors Francine Rivers, James Dobson, Josh McDowell, Charles Colson and many others.

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How to Say Goodbye to 2020

Among the many moving moments in the Hamilton musical is the song “One Last Time,” in which George Washington informs Alexander Hamilton that rather than seeking a third presidential term, he plans to teach the American people (and future presidents) “how to say goodbye.” Wow. What a moment. These days …

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A Year in Review: A Look at 2020

It has been said that one should not look back because it is not the direction you are going. That may be true in one sense, but reflecting on the past can help guide us in the future. Therefore, here are some thoughts on the last twelve months. The IndustryWhen …

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