As the hippie chanteuse sang, “The seasons, they go ‘round and ‘round.” Boy howdy. It’s hard to believe that it’s 2022. I’m still writing 1977 on all my checks.
In a few months, I will have been an agent with The Steve Laube Agency for five years. And I’m still learning something new every day—such as which jokes annoy the boss more than which other jokes. But it’s not all about annoying the boss; some of it is valuable insights and strategies for Christian publishing in 2022. So, with that in mind, let me offer this updated answer to the frequent question I field from aspiring, developing, accomplished, and skilled writers: “What are you looking for as a literary agent?”
Aspiring writers often imagine, “Once I have a book published, people will listen to me.” That’s exactly backwards. Like every publisher and editor I know, I’m looking for people who are already having an impact. They’re writing blog posts that a lot of people read, share, and subscribe to. They’re connecting and engaging with large numbers of people on social media. They’re speaking at events large and small, far and wide. They are not waiting for readers, listeners, and followers to come to them; they are already engaging with people about their genre and topic.
My primary expertise as a writer and speaker has been the Christian market. So, as an agent, I focus my efforts in representing books—both fiction and nonfiction—for the Christian market (though if a proposal has crossover appeal, the resources are available to me to take it to the general market). In particular, I will be interested in:
Fiction: women’s contemporary, historical, timeslip, romance, suspense, thriller.
Nonfiction: Christian living, women’s nonfiction, gift books, devotionals, humor, marriage and family, parenting, prayer, spiritual growth, teens/young adult.
As a rule, I will not be looking at:
Fiction: fantasy, horror, science fiction, middle grade, young adult (YA).
Nonfiction: academic, autobiography/biography, Bible studies, cookbooks, doctrinal issues, memoir, pastoral helps, poetry, sermons, theology.
I’m not interested in “one-and-done” authors. If you have only one book in you, then I wish you well. But I’m not the right person to help you get it published. I’m looking for writers who have already begun investing in the lifelong task of writing what matters and finding fresh and innovative ways to convey an idea and reach an audience. I’m looking for writers who are teachable, who study their craft, and are willing to accept criticism and correction. I’m looking for writers who love words, phrases, and sentences. I’m looking for writers who are reading widely in their genre (at least), who invite thorough critique, and who will never use the awareness and appreciation of their strengths as an excuse not to work on their weaknesses. I’m looking for writers who are attending writers conferences to educate themselves, network with others, and get better and better at proposals and pitches.
You thought I was going to insert another “I” word here, right? Tough. Because I’m not looking for predictability. I’m not looking for the next C. S. Lewis, Max Lucado, Priscilla Shirer, or Francine Rivers. They’re all wonderful writers, but I’m looking for ideas and writing so fresh it could never be confused with another writer. I want to see book proposals that surprise me and delight me. I want to represent writers who can flat write. Who can transport me. And who will do it again and again.
Please see the “Guidelines” link above and follow that information meticulously before submitting a proposal to Bob Hostetler.