Writing Craft

Welcome Back, Dan Balow!

I am very excited to announce that Dan Balow has rejoined our agency as a literary agent. Some of you may recall that he was with us for five years until leaving in 2018 to launch a new publishing venture. While they were able to create some incredible products, market forces and funding issues caused him to suspend that company.

That loss becomes our gain … and yours. I have known Dan for over 23 years now, and he is an amazing man of God. As a 38-year veteran of the Christian publishing industry, his strengths include a savvy understanding of book marketing and how all the pieces of the publishing “puzzle” fit together.

You may remember that he was the director of marketing for Tyndale House Publishers, working with authors Francine Rivers, James Dobson, Josh McDowell, Charles Colson, and many others. Starting in 1995, Dan led the marketing team for the immensely successful Left Behind series by Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye. At its peak, the series was selling over two million copies of various products per month on its way to over 70 million copies to date.

Later he worked as publisher for two audio publishing companies and as a consultant with ministries and publishers on their publishing programs.

Dan has served on the executive board of ECPA (Evangelical Christian Publishers Association), the trade association for Christian publishers. In addition, he is a founding member of the advisory board of the Christy Awards and continues to be involved in training and mentoring Christian publishers around the world. He has been a presenter multiple times at the LittWorld conference held in different countries. (Here is a link to a video of Dan speaking on the basics of marketing at LittWorld in Nairobi.)

Dan is a graduate of Wheaton College with a degree in communications, is married to Carol, and they have four grown children. He works from his office in Wheaton, IL.

We will be adjusting our blog-post schedule starting this week.

I will continue to post every Monday. Every other Tuesday will be an episode of The Christian Publishing Show podcast hosted by Thomas Umstattd, Jr. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, Tamela, Bob, and Dan will rotate their posts. Fun Fridays will continue to post on … Fridays (?!).

The next four blog posts will have each of us revisit the question “What am I looking for?”

I am so very excited to have Dan with us again. We have an incredible team with expertise in all facets of the industry: writer, bookseller, editor, marketer, agent, executive management, and publisher.

Leave a Comment

Five Easy Fixes for Frequent Faux Pas

We all make mistakes. My wife reminds me often … with a strange sidelong glance that makes me wonder if—well, never mind. But some mistakes are more costly than others. A few can even hinder a writer’s chances for publication. But fear not, writer friend; there’s hope. Because a few …

Read More

Do Writers Read Differently?

Writers are readers. Right? Of course, right. In fact, I’d say that if you’re not a devoted, even voracious reader, you might not want to pursue writing for publication, as reading and writing tend to go hand-in-hand. But do writers read differently than other people? And if so, how? I …

Read More

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.

Read More

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.
Read More

What about Credit for Ideas?

The “Your Questions Answered” Series __________ If an author asks his or her Facebook followers or blog readers for help in brainstorming, does the author owe anything if he or she uses an idea presented in that way? I have seen some do it as a contest. They’ll ask for …

Read More

Talk Less, Write More

The hit musical Hamilton has many memorable moments. One of my favorites is the moment when the title character first meets his colleague (and later, nemesis), Aaron Burr, who says, “Let me offer you some free advice.” “Talk less,” Burr says. “Smile more.”  It’s a great character moment for the …

Read More

A Writer’s “Voice”

A couple months ago I asked some of my clients if there are terms they hear in writing and publishing that they wish someone would clearly and conclusively define. One said this: “Professionals say, ‘Find your voice,’ ‘Trust your voice,’ ‘Embrace your voice.’ I can recognize another writer’s voice, but …

Read More

What’s in a Name?

It’s time to start that great novel you’ve been wanting to write for years. You have the story in mind and even the names of the main characters. But what about the other bit players in your story? What names do you give them? Some authors use relatives or childhood …

Read More