Agency

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 will also expand to consider compelling content for children.

I do not represent authors of fiction.

For personal enjoyment and illumination, I read certain Christian living books, Bible studies, and reference materials, but also biographies, history, and business books. I know the market reads wider than that, not to mention that the majority of buyers are not boomer males like me. Most people in publishing are stretched beyond their personal preferences anyway.

Since agents need to view the world through the eyes of publishers, I will ask questions of potential author clients that are consistent with publisher requirements. With that in mind, other than compelling writing, here are three other things I am looking for in authors:

  • Credibility: You need to be perceived as qualified to write on the topic of your book. Theology books are written by respected theologians, apologetic books by respected apologists, nutrition and exercise books by nutritionists and exercise gurus, etc. Even if you are an excellent writer, you need to have the credentials accompanying whatever you might create.
  • Focus: Very few authors can navigate a wide variety of categories successfully; and if they do, they are usually successful in one before trying the other. Just because you can write a variety of books doesn’t mean you should. Regardless, you need to start somewhere.
  • Marketing: Great writing still counts, but you won’t get far without a great start to personal marketing. Lack of an author platform will be a problem down the line, so get started now if you haven’t already.

Finally, should you be published by a traditional publisher, the first book you wrote may not be the first one published. Agent and author agendas are not always publisher agendas at a particular point in time. Timing is a significant issue.

Just like you, we agents with The Steve Laube Agency exercise our gifts, dealing with disappointment and learning to trust God more and more each day. I pray God grants me the wisdom to make wise decisions and serve authors well.

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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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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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Ten Commandments for Working with Your Agent

By request, here are my Ten Commandments for working with your agent. Break them at your own peril.

Thou shalt vent only to thine agent and never directly to thy publisher or editor. Thou shalt not get whipped into a frenzy by the rumor mill fomented by internet loops, groups, Facebook, or blogs. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s success. Be content with thine own contract. Thou shalt not get whipped into a frenzy by the rumor mill fomented by internet loops, groups, Facebook, or blogs.
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A Growing Readership

It recently came to my attention that the email list for our agency’s blog has grown by 40% over the last two years. It’s now the size of a small town or a rather large church! That is only the email list. It doesn’t count those of you who use …

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Three Questions About Agents

In meeting with writers on the cusp of their careers or flush with new success, we find that three big questions come to the forefront. Today, Tamela shares her answers:

How do I find a literary agent?

1)      First and foremost, visit the Agency web sites to see which ones are actively seeking the type of work you write.

2)      Talk to your agented friends to learn about their agents. Referrals are a big part of our business.

3)      If time and finances allow, attend a conference or meeting where your preferred agent will be appearing and meet the agent.

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How Can You Manage So Many Clients?

by Steve Laube

I am frequently asked this question. It is perfectly understandable as many agencies carry a sizeable list of clients. A prospective client or even an existing one wonders, “Will this agent or agency have time for me?”

We post a list of our clients on the web site because we are honored to work with so many gifted people. Not every agency makes their client list public. It is neither right nor wrong, it is merely a preference. As of this morning we have over 150 clients on our roster.

Proper management of a client base is all about communication and work flow. The best metaphor I’ve been able to use to describe how a literary agency works is “We are like a major airline that is always overbooked but never flies full. But if everyone show up at the gate at the same time, we would be in serious trouble.”

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Where Is My Money?

Before I became a literary agent I had no idea how much energy this profession spent being a “collections agent.” Recently someone asked us the following questions (use the green button to the right to ask your question!):

What do you do, as an agent, when a publisher does not pay advances on royalties on time as per their legal contract?

What if a publisher is consistently late (months) saying they have cash flow problems and will pay when they can? Shouldn’t authors be able to count on getting paid the amount and on the date stated in their contract?

Is this common and is there anything that can be done or said regarding what seems to be a breach of contract?

This is an excellent series of questions. The full non-answer is “It depends.” Generally publishers are very good about making the payments according to contracted schedules. The above situation is much more dire and is a good reason to have an agent who know who to talk to inside the publishing house. There are ways to approach the situation that gets results, just remember, “Don’t Burn a Bridge.”

However, there are a few possible reasons that authors should keep in mind before getting impatient with a tardy paycheck.

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