Among the many moving moments in the Hamilton musical is the song “One Last Time,” in which George Washington informs Alexander Hamilton that rather than seeking a third presidential term, he plans to teach the American people (and future presidents) “how to say goodbye.” Wow. What a moment.
These days are a moment too. An opportunity to say goodbye to an, eh, well, um, memorable year, one that defies description (not that everyone hasn’t tried).
Sure, there’s much about 2020 to which I can say “good riddance.” But there’s also much for which I can say, “thank you, Lord”—and not just for surviving the year. I’m grateful my wife and I didn’t catch the COVID-19 virus (so far). I’m grateful my wife and I both work at jobs that can be (mostly) done online, in relative seclusion (as a matter of fact, my day-to-day routine changed very little, if at all, because of the pandemic). I’m grateful our Las Vegas home, purchased in late 2019, provided such comfortable surroundings through it all. I’m grateful The Steve Laube Agency didn’t downsize me (though the Big Kahuna has probably considered it).
As a writer, I didn’t place any new books of my own, but I did help other authors with their writing projects. I continued writing a monthly article for Mature Living and placed other pieces in Bible Advocate, Guideposts, Peer, and War Cry. I continued my daily contributions to oneprayeraday.com (a daily prayer blog) and posted weekly to my “A Thousand Ways to Pray” blog (on Guideposts.com) and this agency blog (stevelaube.com).
Of course, the restrictions related to COVID-19 canceled most of my 2020 speaking schedule; but I was still blessed to take part in person in engagements in California, North Carolina, and Florida, while also participating virtually in four others online.
With all of its challenges, 2020 was a banner year in my work as a literary agent, as my clients signed more book contracts, both fiction and nonfiction, than in any previous year (almost as if I’m learning a few things. Maybe). I added a number of new clients—each of whom subsequently signed book contracts (almost as if they were smart to sign with me. Maybe). I particularly enjoyed helping one of my clients negotiate a contract to read her own audiobook (which isn’t always a given).
Throughout 2020, writers have frequently asked me how 2020 has affected the publishing business. It has, of course. Publishers I work with have re-thunk some things and reorganized other things, and editors I worked with have moved on. But what my questioners usually mean when they ask the question is, “Is there still hope for selling a book these days?” My answer to that is, “Boy howdy!” Publishers and editors are still acquiring new books; they’ve had to make some hard choices, sure; but they know they must have books to release in 2021 and 2022 and beyond, so they have to keep acquiring. In fact, as I mentioned above, I never experienced even a slowdown in the process but rather an uptick. Maybe others had differing experiences, and I won’t argue with them. But my 2020 experience tells me that writing and publishing—including Christian publishing—is still an exciting and promising pursuit. I’ll take that. Into 2021. And beyond.