Trends

Bring the Books (What Steve Laube Is Looking For)

(Updated 1/24/2022)

“Bring the books, especially the parchments,” is a sentence in 2 Timothy 4:13 that has teased readers for 2,000 years. What books did the Apostle Paul want to read while waiting for trial? Theology? History? How-to? (Maybe a little escape reading? Pun intended.)

Another writer chimed in a while ago by saying, “Of making many books there is no end” (Ecclesiastes 12:12). And if we read the statistics, he wasn’t kidding: 300,000+ books are published in the United States alone each year.

Yet there is an allure to the stories of great novelists and a fascination with the brilliance of deep thinkers. It is what drew me to the book industry in the first place, having been a lifelong reader and a burgeoning collector of my own library. (My wife and I own somewhere close to 10,000 books.)

That personal allure and fascination remains unabated. I’ve had and continue to have the honor and privilege of working with some of the finest minds and talented writers in our industry. In the front part of my office, I have four large bookcases holding a copy of every book our agency has represented. Another section of the office holds every book I edited for Bethany House Publishers (click here to find a complete list at the end of the page). And yet another section is every book I’ve overseen as publisher for Enclave Publishing. Literally hundreds of amazing books by amazing authors. Millions of words, untold numbers of lives touched. It is truly a wonderful and remarkable thing to be part of.

Meanwhile, I am still searching for the next great story, the next great concept, the next great writer. So, to answer the question “What are you looking for?” I will attempt to clarify a few things.

Our Door Is Always Open

Unsolicited proposals are always welcome. We sift through a couple thousand inquiries every year. My only request is that each person try their best to follow our guidelines on our website. It would astound you how many fail that simple request.

We Primarily Serve the Christian Market

We make no apology for specializing in books written from a Christian worldview. That means we sell books wherever publishers are receptive to books from that perspective. Usually those are Christian publishing companies. But we can sell books to the general market–if that publisher is interested in the content of the book our client has created.

We won’t represent books that are contrary to a Christian worldview. I once received a proposal claiming the novel included “vivid sex, graphic torture, romance, comedy.” Another writer proposed a nonfiction book that redefined sin as something that was actually unbiblical and should not be taught. Another claimed that Moses was “the greatest serial killer of all time.” Another had this sentence: “Jesus is not enough. The bible is not enough. We need something more.” Obviously, these authors had not done their homework regarding our agency.

I’m Looking for Fiction

I am an eclectic reader, which reflects my work as an agent. I represent authors who write in the following genres: women’s fiction, romance, thriller, suspense, romantic suspense, Amish, literary, military, historical (all eras), contemporary, science fiction, fantasy, supernatural, YA–in other words, every genre published in the industry.

I’m looking for unique story lines with a well-refined craft. If something is 80% ready, I’ll probably reject it. In school a grade score of 80 would be a low B. Our industry is looking for the A+.

I’m Looking for Nonfiction

My eclectic tastes are also exhibited by the types of nonfiction books and authors represented: Christian living, biography, apologetics, theology, Bible study, reference, health, finance, self-help, psychology, grief, suffering, marriage, family, women’s, men’s, philosophy, church life, devotional, inspirational, social issues, politics, parenting, music, and art. The subjects are vast, the opportunities endless.

I am looking for unique ideas by great writers. But as the market has changed, so have some of the demands on the nonfiction author. Your project has to be more than an extended magazine article. It has to have something special that will make a major publisher jump at the chance to invest in you and your work. It can be your platform. It can be the power of your idea. It can be that your writing is unique and compelling. And if you can bring all three, I’m confident we can find you a publishing partner.

A Limit to My Expertise

I tend to be limited when it comes to children’s picture books. Yes, I represent some wonderful authors in that category; but it is not a market in which I typically will sign a debut author. If you are already an established and successful children’s book writer or if you come highly recommended by one who is, I will gladly take a look. But generally this is not a category I am actively pursuing.

Please do not send me your cookbook ideas. I may look like I know how to eat, but it doesn’t mean I know the first thing about cooking.

A Limit to My Exceptions

It is a little aggravating when someone sends me their cookbook with this first sentence: “I know you say you don’t want cookbooks, but I think you will make an exception with mine.” (This happens more than you might realize.) Asking for an exception is bold, but it is also a waste of time for both the author and me.

Hard Copy versus Email (also known as “Steve is odd”)

You can send your proposal to me via email. (See our guidelines.) But it may sit in that inbox forever. However, if you send it to me via hard copy with a SASE (self-addressed, stamped envelope), you will get a response from me. It might be a simple “no thank you,” but you will receive a reply. But please do not expect a critique or even a suggestion. We are not a free editorial service.

Please note that it can take up to 12 weeks to get to your proposal. I am not always that slow, but please don’t expect a response in 24 hours.

The danger of the email inbox is that it gets crowded quickly, and your project quickly scrolls off the screen and can very well be forgotten. I try to go through email submissions, but that inbox is bursting at the seams. So far in January 2022 my email submission inbox has received 63 proposals. On the other hand, hard-copy proposals always get reviewed in-house and then sit on my desk with the reviewer comments until I review them myself. I’m aware this is rather old-school, but it works for me. It is your choice of which way you want to send your project to my attention. However, note that this is unique to me, Steve Laube, at our agency. The other agents are quite comfortable with email submissions and prefer them! Please do not send a hard-copy proposal intended for another agent to the office address. It will not receive the attention it deserves.

Leave a Comment

21st-Century Writing

I’ve been writing and publishing for a long time. Just look at me: a lonnnnng time. During those many years of experience, I’ve learned a thing or two. Maybe three. And among the things I’ve learned about writing for publication is that writers in the twenty-first century must do things …

Read More

Men Read Too

I first wrote about “Writing to Men” in this post five years ago. I still hold the same opinions about this issue, but today I want to take a different angle. One of the many factors explaining why more books are not read by men and more authors don’t write …

Read More

Visual Marketing for Your Books

Yesterday, August 1, was the 40th anniversary of the launch of MTV. Back in 1981 Music Television (MTV) debuted on a cable channel initially only available in New Jersey. It eventually changed the way music was consumed in the pre-Internet era. It quickly became a vital part of the music …

Read More

Bookstore Economics 101

by Steve Laube

Understanding the economics of your local brick-and-mortar bookstore should help you understand the upheaval that is happening in our industry. So put on your math cap and let’s take a ride.

This article focuses on the bookstore not the publisher or the writer. I spent over a decade in the Christian bookstore business, and while that was a long time ago the economic principles are the same.

Let’s start with a $10 book (retail price). I’m using $10 because it will make the math a little easier to follow.

The bookstore buys the book for $6 (or 40% discount off the retail price) from the publisher (who calls that $6 the net price). Note that this discount varies between 40% and 50%.

When the books sells to a customer the store then makes a $4 profit ($10 – $6 = $4).

If the store discounts the book during a 20% off promotion they have to sell two copies to make that same $4 profit. But often a 20% off sale is not enough to double the sales volume. Why? Because a high-volume operation like Amazon.com is happy to sell that $10 book for $6.50 (35% off). They can do this because they plan on selling 10 copies at the discounted price and clear $5 in profit. This pricing strategy has a chilling effect on the ability of the local store to compete.

Read More

Identity Publishing

A powerful social force in the world today is called “identity politics” (IP). Simply, it divides people by race, gender, economic class, and numerous other factors, creating a large number of micro-groups, each supporting political agendas important to the group. For Christians and the church, commanded by God to live …

Read More

God’s Autonomous Zone

In the late 17th century, Catholic theologian and scientist Blaise Pascal authored a book titled Pensées. In it, he wrote: What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? …

Read More

Banned Books

January was a really bad month for Protestant reformer Martin Luther, 500 years ago in 1521. In fact, the entire year was the wurst. (He was German you know.) First, he was excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church by Pope Leo X after refusing to recant his writings. That was …

Read More