It is always a good idea to reflect on the previous year. As those who follow Jesus Christ, we are pressed because the lost world around us is being crushed by the enemy called sin. And yet we should still count our blessings (and as the hymn reads, “name them one by one”). The goodness of God remains unchanged despite attempts to proclaim otherwise.
The following is an attempt to review some things in the industry, our agency, and a few other areas.
The longer I’m in the industry the more I am unsurprised by events. Trying to figure out consumer buying habits is a moving target. One expert called it an “eyeball economy,” meaning that getting a reader’s attention is more than half the battle.
Thus, the issue of platform (the writer’s built-in audience) is a significant factor in publication decisions. At the same time, the brilliance of an idea and the quality of its writing can create its own “platform.”
Innovation and adaptation are a key to marketing. What may have worked five years ago, may not work today.
Big Five publisher Simon & Schuster was sold to an investment firm in 2023. This was after the U.S. Department of Justice stopped the $2.2 billion sale of S&S to Penguin Random House in 2022. For the industry it means little will change in 2024 in acquisitions. At least for now.
Also, on December 31, Skyhorse Publishing officially purchased Regnery. This sale included the Christian publishing imprint Salem Books.
The biggest news for our agency was adding Megan Brown and Lynette Eason as new agents to our group. We are very excited to have two brilliant minds to further grow our ability to help authors find the right publishers for their work.
Overall, we have the privilege of working with nearly 300 authors. Last year, we secured contracts for over 230 new books (to be released over the next few years). Nearly twenty were from first-time authors! We negotiated a number of audio, large-print, film-option, and foreign-rights licensing deals (Japan, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, and Vietnam). We also had various titles hit the ECPA bestseller charts in fiction, nonfiction, and children.
I am thrilled to have Tamela, Bob, Dan, Megan, and Lynette as great agents who pour themselves into their clients’ work. We make a great team. We all continue to find new opportunities, give guidance, and troubleshoot a wide variety of issues.
Some of our clients were honored with various awards:
- We had seven finalists for the Christy Awards (Nadine Brandes, Morgan L. Busse, Sara Ella, Elizabeth Goddard, Sharon Hinck, Amanda Wen, and Roseanna White). Elizabeth Goddard won for best mystery/suspense/thriller. Sharon Hinck won for best speculative novel for the fourth year in a row. This means Sharon will be inducted into the Christy Hall of Fame in 2024.
- We had eight finalists for the Carol Awards (Amanda Wen, Joanna Davidson Politano, Deborah Raney, Lynette Eason, Christina Miller, Ronie Kendig, Sara Ella, and Crystal Caudill). Joanna Davidson Politano won for best historical. Nadine Brandes won for best young adult. And Sharon Hinck won the award for best speculative novel.
- For the Realm Awards, we had five finalists (Gillian Bronte Adams, Nadine Brandes, Sara Ella, Sharon Hinck, and Ronie Kendig). Sara Ella won for best young adult novel. In addition, Sharon Hinck won for best audio production.
- Laine Craft won for the best nonfiction book of the year from the AWSA Golden Scrolls. And Lynette Eason won the fiction book of the year.
- Nancy Pearcey was given an honorable mention for WORLD Magazine’s book of the year.
- The ECPA Bronze Book Award for more than 100,000 copies sold was given to Dallas Jenkins, Amanda Jenkins, and Dr. Douglas Huffman (What Does It Mean to Be Chosen published by David C. Cook).
Meanwhile, I was honored to be named Agent of the Year by ACFW.
The Christian Writers Institute and The Christian Writers Market Guide
The Christian Writers Institute (CWI) recently announced that Megan Brown is our new Executive Director. Her efforts will show this spring as we launch some new initiatives and a laser focus on providing opportunities to further your education via our online audio and video courses.
The new 2024 edition of The Christian Writers Market Guide is available right now in print, ebook, and online. (The above link takes you to shoptheword.com, where the physical book is 32% off.) This is the eighth consecutive year we have brought out a new edition. It is still the only curated collection of resources for Christian writers available anywhere.
Write to Publish Conference
In June we held our first Write to Publish conference in Wheaton, Ill., under the amazing direction of Dan Balow. We had well over 300 in attendance.
We will be holding it again in 2024 (I want to see you there!) on June 11-14. Trillia Newbell is the keynote speaker, Jane Friedman is the plenary speaker, and Sandra McCracken (a 2023 Dove award winner) will be giving a special concert on the last evening. See writetopublish.com for a view of the incredible faculty lineup, and join us June 11-14 in Wheaton.
I continue to serve as the publisher for Enclave Publishing, a traditional publishing company owned by Oasis Family Media, devoted to the publication of speculative fiction written by authors who have a Christian worldview.
We released 16 new titles in 2023 with 20 on the schedule for 2024. It was great to have many of our books win numerous awards. For the fifth consecutive year, Enclave won a Christy award. Plus a Carol award. Three authors won Realm Maker awards, plus a Book-of-the-Year honor. (Four of the last five years an Enclave author has won the Book-of-the-Year award.) We are blessed to have so many fantastic authors to work with.
The team I get to work with is beyond description. Together we are doing our best to create stories that shed light in a dark world using awe-inspiring creativity.
A Personal Project
It was great finally seeing my co-authored book Write Your First Novel, released in March. Co-authored with the late Gilbert Morris, its goal is to have a copy in the hands of every new novelist who is exploring the nuts and bolts of writing a great story. Gilbert has been called the Grandfather of Christian historical fiction. I learned a lot from him in my early days as an editor and later used that on him when I was his editor!
A number of superlative endorsements were provided, including:
“The lessons you learn in this book will serve you the rest of your writing life.” – James Scott Bell, Christy Award-winning author and author of Write Your Novel from the Middle
“Reading this book is like sitting at the feet of two stellar teachers as they unpack the secrets to fiction writing.” – Steven James, Christy Award Hall of Fame author and author of Story Trumps Structure
“Laube’s additions to Morris’s classic work are full of Christian wisdom and down-to-earth advice from someone who knows the industry inside and out.” – Kyle Mann, best-selling novelist and Editor-in-Chief, The Babylon Bee
In a speech I gave last summer, I rather forcibly said, “God created this glorious world and all that is in it, and He called it ‘Good.’ But there are those in this world who take the excrement of their debauchery, shove it in God’s face, and call it ‘better.’”
The world needs your nonfiction insights to counter the ills of a society careening toward self-destruction.
The world needs your great stories to fill the fiction market and offer an alternative to the soulless stories being told by the world.
The culture around us staggers from crisis headline to crisis headline, but Jesus is our unshakeable foundation. The Church and all believers must steadily pursue Christ and His Kingdom. Books are a key help in this pursuit.
I pray that you obey your call to write.
Soli Deo Gloria