Get Published

What’s the Problem?

My office receives many submissions with the hypothesis that a protagonist thinks s/he’s living the perfect life until it falls apart. This is a great premise!

What is a perfect life? Most of us have an idea of what the world thinks of as an ideal life and what seems to be the “perfect” life we can live as Christians. Therefore, the reader doesn’t need to spend much time living the protagonist’s perfect life before being presented with the problem the story seeks to address. 

Allow me to submit a beginning I wrote to a book I doubt I’ll finish:

Capri smiled into the mirror, admiring her veneers. Whitening toothpaste and her electric toothbrush helped her maintain a flawless appearance for her popular – and profitable – podcasts.

She’d just finished lining her lips in fuschia with her Yves St. Laurent Dessin Des Levres pencil when her daughter, Haisley, interrupted. 

“I’ve got news.”

“Let me guess. Your first college acceptance came in.”

Haisley shook her head. “No. I’m not going to college.”

“What?” 

“Mom!” Dior hollered from the foyer. “It’s for you!”

Capri hadn’t even heard the doorbell ring. She lifted her index finger toward Haisley. “Hold that thought.”

Careful to stay in the previously drawn lines, Capri colored her lips with a stick of Tom Ford’s Pretty Persuasive. Then, rushing through the owner’s suite, she noticed a folded paper with her name on it in her husband’s script on the bed. The letter would have to wait too.

“Who could be calling this early?” She navigated down one of the two curved staircases to greet her unwanted visitor.

A man in a business suit awaited. “Capri Nowland?”

“Yes.”

He handed her a manilla envelope. “You have been served.”

In 185 words, the reader has a sense of Capri’s life and has learned about three problems. We know where the book is headed. Either the reader is hooked or not hooked. It’s all about the reader.

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When Editorial Errors Matter

by Steve Laube

Writers make mistakes. It happens. Often an editor’s job is to be the safety net and catch those tidbits that find their way into an early draft of a manuscript for any number of reasons.

The simplicity of “cut & paste” has created more opportunity for error than ever before. I’ve seen half sentences left in their original place because the writer failed to cut and paste accurately. Many books evolve over time with additional research or new thoughts. Errors can creep in this way. I’ve seen an author actually contradict himself between chapters. There are too many details to keep straight so the writer overlooks the inconsequential trusting the editor to fix things. I remember talking to a Bethany House editor who revealed that an author accidently brought a character back to life, forgetting that the character had died earlier in the story.

None of the above examples ever found their way into the final edition of the book and the public never knew the error was made. An editor caught it and fixed it. That is why errors found in a finished and published book are so jarring.

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Author Statement of Faith

I hope this isn’t a surprise, but if you put a hundred random, but devoted Christ-followers in a room, you would probably end up with a few differing opinions on a variety of theological issues. Hopefully, the disagreements wouldn’t be related to the essentials of the faith; but I suspect …

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Original Writing

Several years ago, I reviewed a proposal on a subject commonly addressed in Christian books and quickly noticed it was not entirely original.  It wasn’t plagiarized from another author, but the proposed nonfiction book was comprised almost entirely of the best-thinking from other Christian authors on the subject. There was …

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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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Coming Full Circle

by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Today’s guest blog is from Kim Vogel Sawyer a best-selling author whose books have topped the sales charts and won awards since 2005, when she left her elementary school teaching job to write full time. Her books have won the Carol Award, the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, and the Inspirational Readers Choice Award. Her stories are designed to offer hope and encouragement to her readers. Kim sees a correlation between the writing of a good story and God’s good plan for every life, and she hopes her stories encourage readers to seek God’s will in their own personal lives. Bestselling author Tracie Peterson says: “Kim Vogel Sawyer is an exceptional storyteller who is sure to please fans of historical fiction. Her attention to detail and love of God shines through.”

In addition to writing, Kim Vogel Sawyer is a popular speaker, freely sharing her testimony of God’s grace and healing-both physical and emotional-in her life. She and her husband Don reside in Hutchinson, Kansas, and have three daughters and four grandchildren. She is active in her church and loves singing, acting, playing handbells, quilting, and chocolate!

__________

In 2002, as my health was crumbling to the point that full-time teaching was no longer a possibility and I didn’t know what I was going to do, my dad–feeling as though I needed a major lift–took it upon himself to make my publishing dream come true. He sent a story I’d written, titled A Seeking Heart, to Steve Laube, who, at the time, owned a self-publishing company called ACW Press. And Steve agreed to help me get it into print.

Thus began a journey beyond the scope of my wildest imaginings.

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Are You High Maintenance?

by Steve Laube

Last week I was asked to define what is meant when an author is deemed “high maintenance” by an agent or a publisher. The more I thought about this the more I realized how difficult it is to quantify. Any attempt to do so is fraught with potential misunderstanding because most people are looking for specific rules to follow.

Normally “high maintenance” is a description of someone who is difficult to work with or is constantly in need of attention. It can be anyone from a “diva” to a “rookie.” The best way to express the issue is in the following word picture:

When you contract with an agent or a publisher you are granted a large measure of “Good Will” in the form of a bag of gold coins. You are free to spend these coins however you wish during the course of the business relationship. The cover design is completely wrong? Spend some coins. The marketing plan appears weak. Spend some coins. And as time goes by and positive things happen you receive more gold coins for your bag.

However, many authors make the mistake of spending their entire bag of coins the first time something goes wrong. And then the next time they need a favor or a special dispensation there isn’t any “Good Will” left.

I think there are three areas where these relationships can break down.

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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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