The Publishing Life

You Are Essential

Business people applauding

On Sunday our pastor’s sermon was on 1 Corinthians 12:12-27. Although in this passage, St. Paul writes about how each person is a special part of the body of Christ, with a comparison to how all the parts of the human body work together, I couldn’t help but think of how essential we all are to the publishing process:

Writers: Without authors’ creativity and courage, no one would have a book to publish or to read.

Agents: Yes, it is possible to be published without an agent. But because of the nature of publishing, few have the broad range of contacts and experience that an agent has to understand the nuances of the marketplace, each individual publishing house, the complex nature of contracts, the intricacies of the editorial process, and where each writer’s work will best fit.

Acquisitions Editors: From the many submissions editors receive, they are responsible for deciding which books are best suited for their houses to bring to the reading public.

Sales and Marketing Teams: They agree early in the process that they can sell an author’s book, and will present it it to book buyers. The marketing team works on getting the word out about the book.

Contracts and Legal Department: Along with your agent, these people issue the agreement authors will work under. Without them, there would be no written agreement as to payment, deadlines, and other critical aspects of the process.

Rights Management: These are the ones who handle foreign rights sales and the requests for permission to quote existing books.

Accounting: Would you like to be paid advances and royalties, and on time? See them.

Content Editors: These are the people who encourage an author to write at the peak of her ability by complimenting the good and challenging the weak portions of a book.

Copy Editors: They keep books as error-free as possible so they are a pleasure to read.

Designers: Their creativity in creating a great book cover can make the difference between a reader picking up a book (or clicking the image on the Internet) or ignoring it. They are also responsible for the ads that are used both online and in print publications. In addition the designers can have impact on the interior design of a book (typeface, chapter layout, etc.)

Production Management: They are in charge of the details that can take a book from appearing cheap, sloppy, and cheesy to one that is a joy to read, own, and keep. They oversee the manufacturing process.

Book buyers: These are the gatekeepers. They decide which books they think their customers will purchase. Without them, the reader will never see your book.

Readers: Without readers, we have no one to read our books. Besides, most of the people on this list started out as readers. What book are you reading now?

Your turn:

Where are you in this picture?

Which job do you think sounds the most fun and appealing?

Which essential people did I leave out?

Can you think of a recent book where you thought all of the elements were exceptionally well done? Did you buy a copy of this book and keep it?

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Home from Ghana

I returned home two days ago after spending a week with publishers in the city of Accra, Ghana representing Media Associates International ( The Ghana Publisher’s Forum included about thirty people from both Christian and general trade publishers, gathering for sixteen topical sessions over four days on subjects as wide ranging as Developing a Strong Publishing Program to Human Resource Management.

Last fall, I had the privilege of meeting 200 publishing people from 50 countries at the LittWorld 2012 conference in Kenya, organized by MAI.

This month, Ramon Rocha and I presented material separately and together. He is the director of MAI’s training programs. As former CEO of OMF Literature in Manila, Philippines, Ramon led them from 1997-2008 to become that nation’s largest Christian publishing house. He was the founding chair of MAI-Asia, offering training and consultation to publishing leaders and authors in 11 countries, including China, Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia and others. He authored The Christian Publisher: Strong in the Storm in the Expand Your LittWorld series (MAI).

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Think Global Writing

As you read this, I am in the bustling city of Accra, Ghana in West Africa taking part in four days of training for Ghanaian publishers, August 20-23, conducted by Media Associates International (  International publishing guru Ramon Rocha and I are participating in seminars on a wide range of topics.  My little secret is that I learn and am blessed far beyond what I carry from home in the U.S.   We would appreciate your prayers that our presentations are well received and they we rely on God’s wisdom rather than our own.

Last fall, I had the privilege to present material at the tri-annual LittWorld conference in Nairobi, Kenya…hosting 200 people from 50 countries.  (Even Mongolia was represented)

On the flight over, one of the in-flight movies was The Social Network, a drama that traced the beginnings of Facebook from 2003.  What started as a college website with less than honorable intentions now has 1.1 billion (that’s a “b”) registered users worldwide…about one in six humans on the earth.

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Art Wins

By Dan Balow

Over 25 years ago, one of my favorite magazines was a “geek” publication called “American Demographics.” The magazine doesn’t exist any longer, but the various contributors to the magazine continue to comment in other publications.

Almost every day, I think about one of the articles I read in AD from those many years ago. It was a tongue-in-cheek piece on the danger of “WIWAK” research …where a person will make a decision based on When I Was A Kid. The article was a call to make informed decisions based on facts, regardless of your personal biases.

A lot of publishing decisions are made because, “my son would never read this”, or “I don’t like books on…”

Successful publishing is almost always a result not of thinking “outside of the box”, but thinking outside of ourselves.

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And, With, or Ghost?

by Steve Laube

Sometimes it is helpful to review publishing terms to make sure we are all talking about the same thing.

The cover of a book invariably will state the author’s name. Every once in a while there are two or more names listed (i.e. Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee). The use of “and” or “with” is the code word that tells the reader what type of professional relationship is between these names on the cover when it comes to how the book was written. Each is a “collaboration” but are not identical.


If the names are connected by an “And” they are co-authors. Each with top-billing. They have worked hard to create a book something that reflects both of their perspectives on the topic.

The cover to the right is a book from two of our clients coming out in December by Ellie Kay and Danna Demetre called Lean Body Fat Wallet: Discover the Powerful Connection to Help You Lose Weight, Dump Debt, and Save Money. They worked together to approach two rather different topics (wellness and finances) and put them under one umbrella of a book on general health and wealth. If you look carefully you will note that it lists Ellie AND Danna.

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The Painful Side of Publishing

We’ll get back to focus next week, but something has been weighing heavy on my heart and I want to share it with you.

We all know that publishing is a tough gig. It was proven yet again by what happened last week with the B&H Publishing Group’s fiction division (see Steve’s blog about it). It’s easy to commiserate with the authors impacted by this sudden change, to pray for them and encourage them. But I saw something happening in a number of blogs and author loops, and I confess it troubles me. What I saw was people making caustic comments about the publisher and about the people who work at the publishing house. Even to the point of questioning their faith. As in “How can they call themselves a Christian publisher and do something like this?”

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Happy Birthday Winnie-the-Pooh!

by Steve Laube

On this day in 1926 the book Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne was published by Methuen in London. Our household has celebrated this day each year with my wife baking Winnie the Pooh shaped cookies. (Yes, it is a scary thing to be a man in a house of Winnie the Pooh celebrations…)

Some say the real birthday is the day Christopher Robin Milne was given his stuffed bear (August 21, 1921). But since I’m in the publishing business I prefer to mark the date with the publication of the book that started it all. And if you collect rare books I found this listing where Ernest Shepherd’s own copy (he was the illustrator) can be purchased for only $95,000.

So, “Happy 86th birthday!” to Winnie the Pooh.  (Go bake some Winnie the Pooh cookies and celebrate.)

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Inside a Publishing Company

by Steve Laube

I just returned from three days at the Write! Canada writers conference outside Toronto. During my time there I presented a six session lecture series on the Complete Publishing Process: From Idea to Print.

When the entire process is compressed into a short series like that it becomes evident how many people are involved in the publishing of a book at any given publishing company.

Recently Random House did a 10 minute video interviewing a number of key people in-house who are involved in the acquisition, editing, design, marketing, and sales of a book. Having worked for a publisher (Bethany House Publishers) this video made me smile as I remembered many of the great people I was privileged to work with (many of whom are still working there!).

What thoughts does this video invoke for you?

If you are self-publishing, how much of this are you doing yourself?

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A Visit with Angela Hunt!

Today’s guest blogger is Angela Hunt, a master craftsman and wonderful woman. Angie is one of the first novelists I ever worked with, so we go back a loooong ways. In fact, I think we’ve been friends now for almost 25 years. She’s agreed to share her thoughts about writing, the changes in publishing, and how she refuels creativity. So without further ado, ladies and gents, I give you the amazing Angela Hunt.


KB. Angie, I’m delighted to have you join us here at the Steve Laube Agency Blog.

AH: Do you remember when we first met? Back at Tyndale House, when I was writing novels for young readers and you were my editor?

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What Role Do Influencers Play?

One of the services a traditional publisher provides is working with authors in regard to getting publicity about books through word of mouth. This piece of the publicity puzzle is more important for trade books than for mass market books because they fit into an established line and are less author-focused than trade books. Trade books rely more on author identity and brand recognition to be successful. This is why traditional publishers ask writers to provide lists of influencers for their books.

Who Might Be Influencers?

Often after you are contracted, the publisher will ask the author for a list of influencers. In return for spreading the word about your book, many publishers will provide a copy to the influencer free of charge. Already your agent has insisted that you include a list of potential endorsers in your proposal. Chances are good that not all of your potential endorsers were asked for formal endorsements, so begin with the remaining friends who already know you, like your writing, and support you in your career. When asked for a larger list, choose wisely.

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