As the world turns and 2022 gives way to 2023, I have been a literary agent with The Steve Laube Agency for five-and-a-half years. In many ways, 2022 was my most surprising and successful year yet as an agent. My clients made me look good, and my boss so far hasn’t made me look for a new job; so I’ve got those things going for me. With all that in mind, let me offer an updated answer to the frequent question I field from aspiring, developing, accomplished, and skilled writers: “What are you looking for?”
Aspiring writers often imagine, “Once I have a book published, people will listen to me.” That’s exactly backwards. I’m looking for people who are already having an impact, people whose influence is expanding, people who aren’t waiting to reach people with their message. Like every publisher and editor I know, I’m looking for people who understand today’s publishing realities and have a track record that says they can effectively partner with publishers in getting their message out. They’re writing blog posts and email newsletters that a lot of people read, share, and subscribe to. They’re connecting and engaging with large numbers of people on social media. They’re speaking at events large and small, far and wide. They are not waiting for readers, listeners, and followers to come to them; they are already engaging with people about their genre and topic.
My primary expertise as a writer and speaker has been the Christian market. So, as an agent, I focus my efforts in representing books—both fiction and nonfiction—for the Christian market (though when a proposal has broad appeal for the general market, the resources are available to me to take it there). In particular, I am interested in:
Fiction: women’s contemporary, historical, timeslip, romance, suspense, thriller.
Nonfiction: Christian living, women’s nonfiction, gift books, devotionals, humor, marriage and family, parenting, prayer, spiritual growth, teens/young adult.
As a rule, I will not be looking at:
Fiction: fantasy, science fiction, time travel, horror, middle grade, young adult (YA).
Nonfiction: academic, autobiography/biography, Bible studies, cookbooks, doctrinal issues, memoir, pastoral helps, poetry, sermons, theology.
I’m not interested in “one-and-done” authors. If you have only one book in you, then I wish you well; but I’m not the right person to help you get it published. I’m looking for writers who have already begun investing in the lifelong task of writing what matters and finding fresh and innovative ways to convey an idea and reach an audience. I’m looking for writers who are teachable, who study their craft, and are willing to accept criticism and correction. I’m looking for writers who love words, phrases, and sentences. I’m looking for writers who are reading widely in their genre (at least), who invite thorough critique, and will never use the awareness and appreciation of their strengths as an excuse not to work on their weaknesses. I’m looking for writers who are attending writers conferences to educate themselves, network with others, and get better and better at proposals and pitches.
You thought I was going to insert another “I” word here, right? Tough. Because I’m not looking for predictability. I’m not looking for “cute.” I’m also not looking for the next C. S. Lewis, Max Lucado, Priscilla Shirer, or Francine Rivers. They’re all wonderful writers, but I’m looking for ideas and writing so fresh it could never be confused with another writer. I want to see book proposals that surprise and delight me. I want to represent writers who can flat write. Who can transport me. Who make it impossible for me to stop reading. And who will do it again and again.
Please see the Guidelines link above, and follow that information meticulously before submitting a proposal to Bob Hostetler.