Romance

Book Proposals I’d Love to See (What Tamela Hancock Murray Is Looking For)

Updated 1/27/2021

Every morning, I wake up thankful to the Lord to be a literary agent working for Him in Christian publishing. I’m grateful to the readers of this blog for being part of our writing community.

I always tell writers that I want you not to be with just any agent, but with the right agent for yourself. As for approaching me with your work, we can start with whether or not you are as passionate as I am about the proposals I seek:

Christian Romantic Suspense and Suspense

Readers of Christian romantic suspense and suspense are a large and devoted fan base. I’m privileged to represent many award-winning, bestselling authors in this space. I would like to see category novels, as well as stories for trade book publishers.

The successful author in this arena is willing to write to specific guidelines. This author is talented in creating a realistic situation involving immediate, life-threatening danger that doesn’t diminish until the perpetrator is apprehended. Authors writing here need to know proper law enforcement procedures, weapons, and how criminals operate. The motive must be strong enough to justify the crime. The motive must also be workable and logical. The reader is waiting to see the reason for the crime. Make it convincing. Suspense novels don’t necessarily need to include romance. However, as its name suggests, romance is central to a romantic suspense novel. Here, the couple is in imminent danger. They are appealing both inside and out, emphasizing personality and integrity over physical appearance.

Historical and Contemporary Christian Romance Novels

 Christian romance readers love their authors and books. I’m honored to be an agent entrusted by many award-winning, bestselling authors to represent their work. I would like to see category romance novels, as well as stories for trade book publishers.

As with suspense stories, the successful author in this arena is willing to write to specific guidelines. This author is talented in creating a fresh take on traditional plots for uplifting, inspiring stories. The wise author is an expert in the chosen setting, attitudes, and mores of the time. The star couple is attractive both inside and out, emphasizing temperament and integrity over physical attributes.

Amish Fiction

I have represented bestselling, award-winning writers of Amish fiction throughout my career; and I continue to seek these stories. Amish novels continue to be a formidable category. The successful author has a strong connection with the Amish community where the story is set. This author understands what makes each Amish community unique and writes accordingly. 

Perhaps think of the setting this way: An author can write about moral,  Protestant characters and, therefore, hit the overall target. But authors don’t want to lose readers by slipping on details. For instance, an author who portrays the atmosphere and services of a megachurch in the same way as a congregation of thirty people will miss the mark. Likewise, aspects of worship, such as the method and how often Episcopalians serve Communion, differs from the Baptist and Methodist practice. Elements such as priests donning ecclesiastical robes in colors reflecting the liturgical church calendar versus a pastor wearing a suit or a T-shirt and ripped jeans vary. Christians are likely to stop reading a novel that shows the author didn’t care enough to ensure reasonable accuracy. Likewise, authors writing Amish stories need to be sensitive to details of the community they are portraying. These include, but are not limited to, bonnet style and mode of dress, how they handle internal conflict, their approach to technology, and their preferred way of interacting with the world outside their community. 

In other words, this is not a category to be approached lightly, but with care, respect, and love for the Amish.

Other Christian Fiction

I seek a tale well told that I believe deserves a place in CBA. My tastes veer to heavy romantic elements. While novels not within a genre may seem to have fewer guidelines, writers need to be aware that traditional publishers seek a word-count range. For example, a 30,000-word novella and a 250,000-word novel are likely to secure rejections from editors.

The successful author understands where the work fits in the current market and why. The comparables section in a proposal helps the agent and editor understand the author’s ideas on where the publisher will position the novel.

General-market Fiction

My list boasts a number of popular authors writing for the general market. Some authors on my list write for both the Christian and general markets because I only represent clean reads. The successful author has studied the market and knows where and why the work will fit.

Nonfiction

As in the past, I am highly selective when adding to my roster of successful nonfiction authors. The importance of author platform here is magnified a thousandfold in comparison with fiction. I need to see an author who’s already connecting with potential readers in a significant way.

Nonfiction readers seek insight, help, knowledge, and encouragement. An author must show authority in the chosen topic when delivering a book to these readers.

When several reader reviews use the word “dry” to describe an author’s style, that’s a turnoff to me as a consumer. Dynamic writing is essential, even when the topic is intense.  I love books that beg me to read them even when the subject doesn’t apply to me. Now that’s a well-written and engaging book.

Debut and Established Authors

I wrote this sentence in my original post about what proposals I seek, and I can still say this today:

God has seen fit to allow me a client list that is fantastic beyond my wildest dreams.

 I remain humbled and honored when authors submit their ideas to me, especially considering the abundance of talented agents in CBA.

Although we are not perfect in our response level (meaning it’s OK to follow up if you don’t hear from us), my assistant and I do consider all submissions. I am thrilled to work with promising new, as well as established authors. You can send proposals via email to ewilson@stevelaube.com. (Please visit the guidelines for specifics.)

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