How to Say Goodbye to 2020

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 (a daily prayer blog) and posted weekly to my “A Thousand Ways to Pray” blog (on and this agency blog (

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.

14 Responses to How to Say Goodbye to 2020

  1. Avatar
    Terry Whalin Whalin January 6, 2021 at 5:59 am #


    Thanks for this article about 2020. Pushing forward into 2021 is one of the best ways I can help writers. At Morgan James we published over 200 new books and several of them landed on the USA Today and Wall Street bestseller list–so definitely selling lots of copies. I believe the bright days of publishing are ahead. Hope we can work together.

    author of 10 Publishing Myths, Insights Every Author Needs to Succeed

  2. Avatar
    DAMON J GRAY January 6, 2021 at 6:33 am #

    Dr. Hostetler,

    One of the attributes I admire most about you is that you’re consistently positive. While it is fashionable (and not unreasonable) to bash 2020, the year was also home to some wonderful blessings.

    Two tremendous blessings to our family are that my eldest son finally married and shortly thereafter informed us that they will soon be blessing us with another grandson!

    There is always sunshine somewhere if we just look for it.

  3. Avatar
    Kristen Joy Wilks January 6, 2021 at 6:56 am #

    What a year. That is so exciting that you saw an increase in contracts for your clients. What a blessing in the middle of all this craziness. One of the blessings that I am trying to focus on from the year is a summer together as a family. My husband is a camp director and so every summer of their lives, our three sons have had Dad working seven days a week all summer long. I’ve stepped in as the more present parent for summer time and of course he is good at stealing moments away with his boys here and there. But this is the first summer that they had long lazy days with their dad, swimming and playing board games and enjoying/complaining about backpacking trips. We miss running summer camps terribly, but that quiet time together was truly a blessing.

  4. Avatar
    Roberta Sarver January 6, 2021 at 8:11 am #

    Bob, I appreciate your positive outlook amid the plethora of negative memories that surround us. Your posts have taught me/us a lot. Thanks for being a natural teacher as well as an entertaining one.

  5. Avatar
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser January 6, 2021 at 8:34 am #

    It was not the year that we expected,
    and brought both pain and fear,
    but we should still not hold rejected
    the things that were made clear.
    We lived anticipation
    of a sound and robust life
    with kind cooperation,
    and what we got was strife,
    a nature turned against our dreams,
    and anger that divided
    friend from friend, and now it seems
    much hope was unrequited
    except what was sent Heavenward,
    which we gave in trust to the Lord.

    • Avatar
      Judith Robl January 6, 2021 at 9:41 pm #

      I hear you, Andrew. You are still (ever) in my prayers. I am amazed at your ability, your wit, and your constant faith in God during these agonizing days. Grace, peace, and love.

  6. Avatar
    Rebecca Waters January 6, 2021 at 10:07 am #

    Certainly an encouraging post, Bob. I know many are leaning in to reading books during this crazy year and tiring of television for entertainment. When there were a glut of teachers and I was a professor of teacher education, I held to the notion there is always room for a good teacher. Emphasis on the word good. I trust that is true of books as well. Thank you for the post.

  7. Avatar January 6, 2021 at 11:36 am #

    A big AMEN to that – Christian Writing and Publishing are still an exciting pursuit in 2021 and beyound. In Jesus Christ’s name, Amen. God bless you Bob.

  8. Avatar
    Sheri Dean Parmelee, Ph.D. January 6, 2021 at 12:09 pm #

    Bob, I’m so glad that you had a good year in 2020. I’m glad it’s over though, like you, I am grateful that I didn’t get the Covid virus! I’m looking forward to a good 2021and wish the best for you, as well.

  9. Avatar
    Peggy Booher January 6, 2021 at 1:51 pm #


    I am so glad you and your clients had a banner year. Praise God!
    Thank you for bringing out all the good stuff!
    Thank you for your humor. I always get a laugh and learn a lot from your posts.

  10. Avatar
    Judith Robl January 6, 2021 at 9:39 pm #

    Thank you, Bob, for your encouragement in finding good news. We so often focus on the negative when as Christians we need to remember that God has plans to give us a future and a hope. In everything, give thanks that God is who he is.

    Today, I thank him for the gift of you as our friend and mentor.

  11. Avatar
    Mary-Lynn Chambers January 8, 2021 at 7:50 am #

    Thank you for pointing out the good in the midst of a difficult year. As 2020 ended, I took the time to reflect over all the good that God had given me and my family. The result was a powerful time of worship.
    I know that 2021 will bring some challenges of its own, but I am determined to look for the good and celebrate what God is doing in our midst!

  12. Avatar
    Stephan January 12, 2021 at 7:48 am #

    Thanks for the encouragement Bob. I’ll keep on submitting!
    Warm regards to all

  13. Avatar
    Kathy Gardner February 14, 2021 at 8:29 pm #

    I love to read your writing and hear you speak. I too praise God for the opportunities I had during the year to learn and stretch in new ways. I set a new structure that included groups of friends studying Spanish on What’s App and French on FaceTime, lectures on books, art, music, cooking, and travel with Alliance Francaise international zooms, weekly prayer meetings with First Assembly small group, charity organizations and book club local zooms. Since I didn’t go to the gym, I really looked forward to my daily walks and home exercising, a little music practice, lots of home cooking and of course, some writing. I’ve actually enjoyed not driving much. Main misses–not getting to see the grandchildren enough, not dining in restaurants and not traveling. I have taken the first Covid vaccine. I am thankful I didn’t get Corona Virus and I hope it disappears soon.

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