Who and What I’m Looking For as an Agent

I love books. I have loved reading them since “Dick and Jane,” Dr. Seuss, and My Side of the Mountain. I have loved writing them since the publication of my first book in 1992 (yes, I am that old). And now, as an agent with The Steve Laube Agency, I get to work with authors and represent them and their books to publishers. “So,” you might ask, “what are you looking for?” Oh, okay, since you twisted my arm, here’s what I’m looking for:


Aspiring writers often imagine, “Once I have a book published, people will listen to me.” That’s exactly backwards. Like every publisher and editor I know, I am looking for people who are already having an impact. They are writing blog posts that a lot of people read, share, and subscribe to. They are connecting and engaging with large numbers of people on social media. They are 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 will focus my efforts in representing books, both fiction and nonfiction, for the Christian market (though if a proposal has crossover appeal, the resources are available to me to take it to the general market). In particular, I will be interested in:

Fiction: contemporary, historical, mystery, romance, suspense, thriller. Selected children’s books.

Nonfiction: Nearly all topics written from a Christian perspective – business and leadership, contemporary issues and current events, Christian living, devotionals, humor, marriage and family, parenting, prayer, spiritual growth, teens/young adult, women’s nonfiction.

As a rule, I will not be looking at:

Fiction: fantasy, horror, science fiction, speculative fiction (those are Steve’s strange affliction).

Nonfiction: cookbooks and  poetry.


I’m not interested in “one-and-done” authors. If you have just one book in you, then I wish you well, but I am 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, 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 am not looking for predictability. I am not looking for the next C. S. Lewis, Max Lucado, Beth Moore, or Francine Rivers. They are all wonderful writers, but I’m looking for ideas and writing so fresh that it could never be confused with another writer. I want to see book proposals that surprise me and delight me. I want to represent writers who can flat write. Who can transport me. And who will do it again and again.


99 Responses to Who and What I’m Looking For as an Agent

  1. Avatar
    Janine Rosche July 19, 2017 at 3:36 am #

    Well, shoot. I was hoping to work with another Buckeye. You had me up until point one, but I can’t even seem to influence my four young children at this point in time! That said, anyone you will represent is certainly going to be talented, hardworking and inspiring! They will be ones to watch! God bless!

    • Bob Hostetler
      Bob Hostetler July 19, 2017 at 5:59 am #

      Fantastic, Janine. Keep working on those kids, that’s a tough nut to crack. Not that your kids are nuts. Maybe I should just say “thanks for the comment.”

      • Avatar
        rhondadela October 11, 2019 at 1:59 pm #

        Your comment is cracking me up, I can relate to Janine. Raising my nuts, I mean kids (now teens) has taken it’s toll on my writing time, while at the same time offering lots of inspiration for the bible studies I have written.
        The beauty of it all is that, even if I don’t have my work sell a million copies, at least I have left some footprints in the sand from my walks with Jesus through this season. And it is so precious to look back and see my little ones footprints dancing all around the strong, steady tracks He is making with my life. It’s the true joy of writing. Our words get to become our stones of remembrance, reminding us of ALL He has done and giving us all we need to keep going forward with Him.

  2. Avatar
    Sharon Cowen July 19, 2017 at 5:19 am #

    Influence? Eighth graders. I taught eighth graders. Does that count for a retired person just entering the writing wilderness? I am on facebook. I’m working on a “Come to the garden…” blog. Surely there’s a burning bush somewhere and a staff or better still, a talking stick.

    • Avatar
      Janine Rosche July 19, 2017 at 5:39 am #

      Sharon, I tried finding your blog but couldn’t. Is it breaking rules to ask you to share a link to it? I’d love to read your work.

      • Avatar
        sharon cowen July 19, 2017 at 6:00 am #

        Thanks, Janine. I tried to use Bluehost, and my antique tech skills crashed. I am transferring my domain name to WordPress. They said yesterday, it will take about 72 hours. So hopefully by this weekend you can find me at sharoncowen.com. Don’t give up, Janine. And don’t discount the influence you are having on your four young children. What better use of time?

    • Bob Hostetler
      Bob Hostetler July 19, 2017 at 6:04 am #

      Sharon, anyone who has taught eighth graders knows how to command attention and should be a whiz at building an audience. As for me, I think I and my fellow seventh- or eighth-grade friends caused the loss of three Sunday school teachers in a year.

      • Avatar
        Sharon Cowen July 19, 2017 at 6:30 am #

        Thanks for the encouraging words, Bob. Were you the young boy who bowled marbles down the church aisle during the middle of the offertory or sermon?

        • Bob Hostetler
          Bob Hostetler July 19, 2017 at 6:31 am #

          Wasn’t me. Honest. Though I have been known to crawl under the pews and tie shoestrings together. But if you quote me, I’ll deny that, too.

          • Avatar
            Susan Gregory July 19, 2017 at 7:05 am #

            This says a lot about you…
            With you as an agent, life will always be full of the unexpected.

          • Avatar
            Sharon Cowen July 19, 2017 at 7:12 am #

            I think your “brother from another mother” lives next door. 🙂

  3. Avatar
    Bryan Mitchell July 19, 2017 at 5:28 am #

    Extremely fair to want someone with an established platform. I hope you find great authors to represent.

    • Bob Hostetler
      Bob Hostetler July 19, 2017 at 6:08 am #

      Thank you for the comment, Bryan. I’m looking for writers who “get it,” who are learning and growing and gaining influence themselves rather than waiting for someone else to do that for them. It needn’t be “established” as much as “growing” and “resonating.”

  4. Avatar
    Donna July 19, 2017 at 5:32 am #

    I’m wondering aloud…why would a writer you described need you?

    • Bob Hostetler
      Bob Hostetler July 19, 2017 at 6:13 am #

      So many reasons, Donna. In today’s publishing world, writer and agent can form a team that strategizes and molds and improves a writer’s skills, exposure, and influence exponentially and allows a writer to focus his or her efforts in areas where they’re strongest while others see to areas that might otherwise be distractions–or, worse, minefields. These are just some of the reasons why even the famous and bestselling authors and speakers have agents.

      • Avatar
        Brennan McPherson July 19, 2017 at 6:29 am #

        You’re too quick, Bob! Beat me to the punch.

        • Bob Hostetler
          Bob Hostetler July 19, 2017 at 6:32 am #

          Well, yes, but to your reply I can say only, “What he said.”

    • Avatar
      Brennan McPherson July 19, 2017 at 6:24 am #

      To negotiate contracts, mediate relationships, garner greater support for projects, have a wider range of publishers to pitch to, give advice on career direction, help juggle multiple projects + proposals to give the writer more margin to market and write. Wouldn’t you rather have someone praising your project to publishers and editors, then to have to do it yourself? There’s an enormous amount of work that goes into publication that tends to seem quite ambiguous and hard to quantify.

      I have a traditionally published novel that released last year, nearly 2,000 email subscribers, have been featured on The 700 Club, and have received endorsements from NYT bestselling authors, and I’ve never felt like I needed an agent more. I’ve also had quite a hard time finding an agent, even with a great editor who’s dedicated to working on my projects (I negotiated the first deal with the publisher on my own because I have a business degree and experience with contracts–and I learned that it’s better to have someone else do that). Publishing is just a tough journey. And it doesn’t get any easier.

      I hope that doesn’t sound too harsh, because I thought the same as you until I felt the pressure of all the work that’s demanded when you’re actively publishing. Agents are worth it. Doesn’t matter where you are in the journey, or how “successful” you seem. And this is coming from someone who’s perfectly comfortable with independent publishing. It’s difficult to go it alone.

      • Bob Hostetler
        Bob Hostetler July 19, 2017 at 6:32 am #

        What he said.

      • Avatar
        Janine Rosche July 19, 2017 at 6:35 am #

        Brennan or Bob,
        What are the best resources/ideas for building your platform? I’ve considered self-publishing my first book to try to gain readers and build my platform. I always see people who offer free ebooks for subscribing to their sites. Any suggestions are appreciated!

        • Bob Hostetler
          Bob Hostetler July 19, 2017 at 6:37 am #

          Janine, there are good reasons to self-publish but that ain’t one. I recommend Michael Hyatt’s book, Platform, as a good starting point. And if you haven’t started strategically attending writers conferences, I strongly urge you to do that.

          • Avatar
            Janine Rosche July 19, 2017 at 6:42 am #

            I’m attending ACFW in September for the first time. I asked for meetings with Tamela and Steve, although I don’t know what I’ll get. Will you be offering meeting times there?

            • Bob Hostetler
              Bob Hostetler July 19, 2017 at 8:47 am #

              Janine, alas and alack, I won’t be at ACFW this year, but Tamela and Steve are the best.

          • Avatar
            Brennan McPherson July 19, 2017 at 6:57 am #

            What Bob said!

            Also, free books don’t work like they used to. To build a group of people who are actively consuming what you’re offering, you have to figure out what you want to offer on a consistent basis. Is that a blog? Professional speaking? What’s your expertise or primary interest, and why are you qualified to talk about it? Whatever you decide, do start somewhere, because many times we have to start walking to figure out where we want to go.

            Then, figure out how you’re going to get people to commit to listening to you long-term. Whether that’s by liking a FB page, subscribing to email notifications (I recommend MailChimp, which is free for the first 2000 subs), or something else. Build a way to consistently reach out TO the people you’ve engaged with. Make sure to keep them engaged long-term.

          • Avatar
            Janine Rosche July 21, 2017 at 1:01 pm #

            I got Michael Hyatt’s Platform in the mail today. You should get commission. Although, I’ll let you have a percentage of the sales from my first book if you play your cards right. (See what I did there?)

  5. Avatar
    Jackie Layton July 19, 2017 at 6:16 am #

    Hi Bob,

    I’m sorry I missed your introduction last week, but it’s good to meet you now.
    So glad to hear you’re part of the Steve Laube Agency.

    Thanks for sharing what you’re looking for. It sounds like your authors will be blessed.

    • Bob Hostetler
      Bob Hostetler July 19, 2017 at 6:18 am #

      Oh, Jackie, you want to scroll back through this blog to last week’s post. It was a tough interview with me. I’m still reeling from it.

  6. Avatar
    Karen Saari July 19, 2017 at 6:17 am #

    You’ve just described me to a T! Well, almost. But My Sid of the Mountain was my first favorite book. I’ve had several favorites since then, but it was the first.

    • Bob Hostetler
      Bob Hostetler July 19, 2017 at 6:20 am #

      Karen, yes, yes, yes! I wanted to BE Sam! I still do. And that book made me a lifetime Jean George fan.

  7. Avatar
    Michele Israel Harper July 19, 2017 at 6:44 am #

    Congratulations, Bob! I am so excited for you! What a wonderful opportunity.

    • Bob Hostetler
      Bob Hostetler July 19, 2017 at 8:48 am #

      Thank you, Michele! I’m living the dream.

    • Avatar
      Dejah Hall February 13, 2020 at 2:29 pm #

      Hello, I am writing my first non-fiction. I am a recovering drug addict, who found Christ, and my story has already impacted millions. I went viral on social media for my recovery story and photos. I have posted 2 chapters on my social media to attract attention and a following. It has received amazing responses. I am looking to send you a cover letter and 3 chapters, I am worried that it may not be for this agency because I am writing it as the drug addict and homeless woman. So there is profanity, and excessive drug use. Up until I have an otherworldly experience with Christ. I want to write a 3 part series on my journey. I hope you will take a minute to read what i have created. And at the very least point me in the right direction. Thank you!

  8. Avatar
    Carol Ashby July 19, 2017 at 7:09 am #

    Bob, my biggest claim to platform fame is being consistently in the top 4 on Google for crime and punishment in the Roman Empire, which has given me an international following in 78 countries. I’m at number 1 today for treating Roman indigestion. My highest aspiration with my fiction is to achieve the spiritual impact on individual readers of Francine Rivers but not her sales numbers. (We scientists tend to be realists, although God can do anything if it suits His purpose.) I think it’s a safe bet that I would never attract your attention as an agent, but I am really looking forward to what I’ll learn from your blog posts.

    • Bob Hostetler
      Bob Hostetler July 19, 2017 at 8:50 am #

      Carol, “#1 for treating Roman indigestion.” What a hoot! Those Romans are lucky to have you. And safe bets are still a gamble…

  9. Avatar
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser July 19, 2017 at 8:26 am #

    Hmmm…I have a large blog following, but unfortunately what makes it large is my writing about my imminent death with honesty and hopefully a bit of humour.

    Can’t say it’s quite the platform I would have chosen, but on the other hand I would not trade the perspective and learning for anything, including restoration of health.

    There’s a book to come out of this; perhaps two, if I get at least a short remission.

    At this point, therefore, I’m probably a one-and-done, and attending writers’ conferences simply isn’t on unless ACFW would like to hold one at my house. It’s a nice house, really, great views and ambience, but there are a LOT of dogs. We rescue unwanted Pit Bulls, and they have pride of place and first refusal at mealtime.

    But I might send you a proposal anyway, just for the fun of hoping to be the one gloriously wayward exception to a well-groomed stable.

    • Bob Hostetler
      Bob Hostetler July 19, 2017 at 8:52 am #

      Andrew, your keen sense of humor shines through in your comment. Thanks for the honesty and humor, both.

  10. Avatar
    Kristi Woods July 19, 2017 at 8:31 am #

    Loved your interview last week, Bob. Even though I’m new as well, here’s a hearty “welcome”!
    And this post? This gal is soaking up every ounce of it.
    Platform building? In process.
    Manuscripts? Several swirling, two skipping over to the hopper now.
    Genre? Check and double check.

    It’s right there – the dream to acquire an agent and see several manuscripts in print, fulfilling kingdom work through words. I’m curious, did you also have a dream to work with an agent? My teens and I discussed my hope, what seems to be a God-given one, just last week. They might think it wonky – I don’t know. They simply offered a benign teenaged facial scowl in return. Normal. But the dream’s pull proves strong, and I’m certain it will become reality one day.

    Thanks for opening the door, allowing us to take a peek, Bob. It’s always good to know what’s running through an agent’s mind.

    • Bob Hostetler
      Bob Hostetler July 19, 2017 at 8:53 am #

      Oh, Kristi. You don’t want to know what runs through this agent’s mind. But I love your comment. You sound like my kind of person. And your teens like my kids.

      • Avatar
        Robin E. Mason July 19, 2017 at 9:55 am #

        as opposed to what runs through an author’s mind??? talk about a black hole! bwahahahahah

  11. Avatar
    Robin E. Mason July 19, 2017 at 9:20 am #

    first line of my first blog as an author, “I’ve been thrown in the deep end. Of a deep ocean. In a tidal wave. And all I want to do is write my stories.” (entitled Drowning, of course) that was three years ago.
    my blog has grown and i have 3 books published (Indie) and a new series underway (#1 releases next month)

    I enjoyed the tone of your post and would enjoy the chance to work with you – what are your submission guidelines?

    • Bob Hostetler
      Bob Hostetler July 19, 2017 at 9:55 am #

      Robin, there is a link at the top of this page: “Guidelines.” Thanks for asking.

  12. Avatar
    Craig Hardee July 19, 2017 at 11:05 am #

    It’s great to see you become an agent, Bob. Does that mean that you’ll represent my one and only poetry cookbook? 🙂

  13. Avatar
    Melissa Henderson July 19, 2017 at 12:44 pm #

    Good info to know! 🙂 Almost finished writing my first Christian fiction novel.

    • Bob Hostetler
      Bob Hostetler July 19, 2017 at 2:01 pm #

      Congratulations, Melissa. That is an accomplishment in and of itself.

  14. Avatar
    Sonja Anderson July 19, 2017 at 1:57 pm #

    Thanks for your helpful post! As a children’s author with two British-published novels, the line “select children’s books” jumped out at me.

    Any chance you could expand on that? Thanks! (In the Christian market, this often seems to mean that the agent will publish children’s books by an author they already represent in the adult market. Say that’s not so?)

    Hopeful in Seattle!

  15. Bob Hostetler
    Bob Hostetler July 19, 2017 at 2:06 pm #

    Sonja, thanks for your comment. No, that is not the only circumstance in which I would consider a children’s book. As challenging as it is to sell a book these days, children’s books are even more so. Basically, the word “select” means that everything else I wrote in the post above about influence and inspiration and surprise and delight, etc., is even truer than true for children’s books.

  16. Avatar
    Mary Elizabeth Brown July 19, 2017 at 2:11 pm #

    For 40 years I have been keeping a file of story ideas and a number of them have outlines, first chapters and an ending. Five years ago I was influenced by friends and acquaintances to consider writing books because they liked my small blog posts. I went to my first conference at OCW and was convinced I was crazy to even imagine anyone would read my writing. I have no platform of followers so why should I even try? But my stories are begging to be told so I am working on bringing them into text, admittedly slowly because I have a day job and I am trying to learn this new craft.

    Once in awhile the darkness descends to tell me it is a waste of time but when the light shines, I am flying on top of the world. I am working on small articles for Chicken Soup for the Soul and magazines as I try to draw courage to submit and experience being rejected. It sounds like the writing life is one of constant rejection that you are not to take personally. Why would anyone do this? I guess we are all a bit insane or perhaps gamblers to work hard just to be ignored, waiting for that one break through.

    Your list echoed some of the same things I have heard before. This time I could click off: attending conferences, learning the craft, able to take criticism (I want to do my best), hobnobbing with other writers, having a blog (it needs reworking), commitment to multiple books and writing, writing, writing…. Wow, I’ve made a little progress. I’ve had one speaking engagement. No one is beating down the door for my perspective on life.

    The biggest discovery for me has been the need to go on with life and my relationship with God because writing without His input is just not worth it. I have discovered truths about myself and God as I write with Him. So in that sense, writing is valuable to me even if no one else thinks so. Growing with God in this new venture is worth the work, the waiting, the rejection and the not knowing if our words will ever see the light of publication.

    I plan on putting you list on my office wall for encouragement and perspective.

    Scribe for His Kingdom

    • Bob Hostetler
      Bob Hostetler July 19, 2017 at 2:18 pm #

      Mary, you are exactly right! It is a mistake to see a byline or a book as the goal! It’s what happens in ourselves and in our readers, whether it is growth in patience or joy in obscurity or the thrill of writing the just-so word or the tear-inducing scene, all of which can be had with or without an agent or a book contract. And readers who span the globe and say that my devotion touched them or my blog comment meant something? Wow. We do God, ourselves, our work, and our readers a disservice when we think it doesn’t matter unless it’s a book or a bestseller. I bless you for that reminder.

  17. Avatar
    CJ Myerly July 19, 2017 at 2:23 pm #

    I’m looking forward to what you bring to this agency. I’ve been following this blog for nearly two years. As an aspiring author, I hope to fit all those criteria. Starting a blog has been huge for me.

    I can’t wait to hear more from you.

  18. Avatar
    David Bullock July 26, 2017 at 7:54 am #

    I would love working with you Bob. I appreciate your friendship. Meeting you at the Colorado “Write His Answer” Conference was a day that helped begin a new direction in my life as, not only a pastor, but an author as well. I was born to write, and you helped inspire me to do that. As you know, I have just completed my first fictional novel and would love to share it with you!

  19. Avatar
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  20. Avatar
    Melanie McGehee October 28, 2017 at 5:30 pm #

    My best friend challenged me last week to begin sending submissions out into the world. A good children’s book warms my soul and ignites my thoughts. I want to share that with boys and girls and moms and dads when they read about the truths and the mysteries of God. I want to make memories. I’ve written a series loosely based on a catechism for children. Sound interesting … at all?

  21. Avatar
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  22. Avatar
    Tracy Pop January 5, 2018 at 3:17 pm #

    Hi Bob,
    Could you please clarify for me, are you taking proposals for middle grade historical fiction, or just adult?

    • Bob Hostetler
      Bob Hostetler January 5, 2018 at 3:23 pm #

      Tracy, I’m not looking at middle grade historical fiction proposals. I’m sorry.

      • Avatar
        Tracy August 1, 2018 at 1:39 pm #

        Thank you for your reply, Bob!

  23. Avatar
    Ann L Coker January 10, 2018 at 5:06 pm #

    Curious: Are you the Bob Hostetler who writes the inside cover articles “Knowing Christ” for MATURE LIVING? I like those entries.

    • Bob Hostetler
      Bob Hostetler January 11, 2018 at 10:50 am #

      Yes, that’s me. Mea culpa. Thanks for reading!

  24. Avatar
    Cathy Mayfield February 6, 2018 at 8:08 am #

    Hello, Bob! Glad to know you will be at Montrose this summer. I wondered if your list of “what I want” is still relevant today? I finally have the go-ahead this year from the Holy Spirit to turn a corner with my writing – from teaching it to going for publications. (An interesting story, maybe we can share at Montrose.) I’m not sure what to do about an agent, but reading this post intrigued me. I definitely fit in the category of never going to be “confused with another writer”!! 😉 And if God is leading me to an agent, your humble spirit and love of words (and journalism!) have long been an “unknowing” mentor to me. Blessings for a joy-filled day in His service!

  25. Avatar
    Kelli Carruth Miller March 28, 2018 at 3:58 pm #

    This is the most helpful post I have come across to direct me to what my professional writing goals should be! What you said about “Investment” and “Originality” really caught my attention. It describes what I hope I am, what I hope I can be, and what I hope I may become as I continue to grow as an author.

    I taught English and Spanish to 7th, 8th, and 10th graders for 10 years in Christian schools, as well as elementary Spanish, before spending another 10 years shepherding my own flock of sheep on our little farm in Louisiana. Every moment I spent learning to shepherd, of spending time inundated with the sounds, smells, joys & aches of caring for the sheep, taught me another insightful lesson on what it means to know and follow Jesus as my Shepherd! The little “stories” that played out before me as I watched the ewes, lambs, and other farm animals, illustrated spirituals truths I never imagined. Experiential knowledge of what “shepherd” means, strengthened my faith and healed my heart at a depth I never could have understood possible.

    As a result, I am currently working on summarizing these experiences into short-story chapters for an adult book, A Sheep-Like Faith. The first children’s book inspired by these experiences was published earlier this year in both English and Spanish. It seems to have strong appeal to all ages!

    If you are willing to represent Christian children’s books published by Xulon, please consider taking a look at https://www.amazon.com/Green-Grass-Waters-Carruth-Miller/dp/1545602638

    Thank you so much for your challenging post. I will keep it in mind as I continue to work!

  26. Avatar
    Caroline Vandenbree April 8, 2018 at 3:34 pm #


    Thank you fellow CCU alum for all of your wisdom in what you are looking for in an author. As a first time author, I was wondering, what stands out to you in the proposal or query letter that makes you want to see the book. I do have a blog (New, but getting interest with Facebook friends), I’ve spoken at conferences like Youth Specialites and the Urban Youth Workers Institute. My book and proposal is complete, but I was wondering what grabs your attention. Rewriting is a gift that I am understanding is most important in this writing world.

  27. Avatar
    Buck April 14, 2018 at 5:01 pm #

    Can you tell us more about this? I’d love to find out some additional information.

  28. Avatar
    Bill McCleery April 15, 2018 at 9:20 am #

    You mentioned earlier there are some good reasons to self-publish. What are some of those reasons? Thank you, sir.

    • Bob Hostetler
      Bob Hostetler April 15, 2018 at 2:04 pm #

      Check out my recent posts. I wrote a whole post in answer to that question maybe four or five weeks ago.

  29. Avatar
    Jerold May 6, 2018 at 2:19 pm #

    This is the perfect site for anyone who wants to understand this topic.
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  30. Avatar
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  31. Avatar
    marsha May 16, 2018 at 9:20 am #

    I didn’t see “memoir” in your looing-for list. Thoughts on that, Bob? Assuming I have a strong audience base.

    • Bob Hostetler
      Bob Hostetler May 17, 2018 at 8:56 am #

      Marsha, Marsha, Marsha. Memoir is a tough sell but if it’s the best thing I’ve read all year, I’ll be glad to give it a look.

  32. Avatar
    janis hutchinson August 1, 2018 at 7:26 am #

    Could you provide a realistic answer on this one?

    I’ve been previously published traditionally (Kregel Pu-3 books), and my platform (speaking, writing, etc.) has been on the subject of my books (cults).

    However, my new book is on an entirely different subject. Therefore, I have no platform yet for my new subject. In other words, I haven’t as yet begun to write (my blog) or speak at churches on this new subject.

    My question is: Would my new book be a hard sell to a traditional publisher for a literary agent because of no platform on this new subject as yet? I would then assume that if this is so, my only alternative would be to self-publish.

    • Bob Hostetler
      Bob Hostetler August 1, 2018 at 8:18 am #

      It depends, Janis. If parts of your platform will be useful in spreading the word about your new concept, then those may still apply. And if you’ve demonstrated aptitude in speaking, blogging, etc., on any subject, that could also translate for a new project. It just depends on the specificity and adaptability of the platform you’ve already built.

  33. Avatar
    Reagan September 13, 2018 at 1:59 pm #

    Thank you for giving such detailed guidelines! You have a very captivating writing style yourself. I’m going to be submitting a book proposal for my novel soon. 🙂

  34. Avatar
    John November 29, 2018 at 11:55 am #

    Hello Bob,

    What’s the ratio of importance between platform prominence and a great book?

    Is it a trade-off of sorts? If your public influence ranks at 8/10, can you get by with a book that’s kinda…meh, 2/10? It seems editors can doctor it up until it’s shelf-ready.

    On the other hand, is it even possible to publish a book if your current public profile is modest? Does a book ever have publishing potential on its own merits?

    Put another way, what hope is there for introverts?

    Thanks for your time!

    • Bob Hostetler
      Bob Hostetler November 29, 2018 at 12:52 pm #

      I can’t express it as a ratio. Maybe if your platform is 10/10 you can write a “meh” book; I imagine we’ve all come across celebrity/politician books that could fit that category. But otherwise not.

      An amazing idea wonderfully written can still be published even with a modest platform. But very often a writer’s platform is an indication of his or her professionalism and understanding of readers, markets, etc., so they more commonly go hand-in-hand.

      And there’s plenty of hope for introverts. Introversion doesn’t preclude a growing, strong platform, any more than extroversion guarantees it. There are ways to extend your reach as an introvert.

      I hope that helps.

      • Avatar
        John November 29, 2018 at 3:08 pm #

        It does help – and thank you for such a quick response!

        God bless,

      • Avatar
        John November 29, 2018 at 3:40 pm #

        Haha, a pink snowflake avatar?

        Something about that feels poetic. So much for my platform 😉

  35. Avatar
    Matt Davenport April 4, 2019 at 2:19 pm #

    A funny thing happened on the way to reading a list of “Who I wants”. Quite literally, I caught my breath. Not only do few people know the classic “My Side of the Mountain,” but I never expected a literary agent to make it a priority book. It was one of the biggest inspirations for me as a kid. I guess that shows you what I know about you guys.

    I never much considered an agent before, but with that kind of an opening…maybe I should.

    • Bob Hostetler
      Bob Hostetler April 4, 2019 at 3:08 pm #

      You obviously have good taste. That’s a great start. 🙂

    • Avatar
      Margaret McManis June 28, 2020 at 5:18 pm #

      Mr. Hostetler,
      Another ‘My Side of the Mountain’ fan here. As a children’s librarian for many years I saw that title ‘f’ly’ off the shelves. That book and ‘Hatchet’, Gary Paulsen’s wonderful read needs to be repeated in our manuscripts today, with just a bit of Godly emphasis.
      Hoping I can provide some of the action in my time travel novels.

  36. Avatar
    Jim Precourt June 30, 2019 at 10:38 am #

    Respectfully, Mr. Hostetler,

    You say you are looking for writing so fresh that it could never be confused with another author, but you limit your pool of potential non-fiction clients by insisting they already are making an impact, that they already have an established platform. One has to start somewhere.

    Forgive me; I don’t understand. If you want fresh and original material, doesn’t it make sense to mine a different part of the mountain? You may get all the silver and miss the gold. God used both Paul and Peter to spread the gospel, did he not?


    Jim Precourt

  37. Avatar
    Randy C. Smith August 26, 2019 at 8:48 am #

    After having had brain surgery in 2005, I became a writer. God sure surprised me! I love writing; It has changed my life! I love to bless others with what God gave me. I write fiction and have currently written seven books. Keep on doing what you are doing. Thanks Randy C. Smith

  38. Avatar
    T.L. Davis September 3, 2019 at 6:00 pm #

    Mr. Hostetler, I am curious, I have two novels out on Amazon, literary Westerns where the main character is a Christian, (one is a sequel, so same MC) if a poor, struggling Christian, but I don’t consider it a Christian book. The feedback I have gotten on them is very positive for the Christian MC in a non-Christian book. Denzel Washington does a good job of inserting Christianity and being a flawed Christian into the mix, at least getting the Bible into a few scenes.

    What value do you see in some of us less devout, but dedicated Christians reaching out to those in the secular community through these sorts of works? Right now, I am not working on those sorts of books, but if there was a provable market, I would invest in more books like that.

    What is your opinion?

    • Bob Hostetler
      Bob Hostetler September 3, 2019 at 6:03 pm #

      There’s huge value in what you describe. The general market is wide open to books featuring faith elements, realistically presented.

  39. Avatar
    T.L. Davis September 3, 2019 at 6:18 pm #

    The biggest problem I have, is, I can write it realistically and compellingly, but I don’t know who to send it to; what category would one look for to know if an agent or a publisher would be open to that aspect? I spend literally months and months just trying to figure out who might be looking for what I have.

    I have a literary Western (most people don’t know what that is, but it is what Larry McMurty, Elmer Kelton and Cormac McCarthy write) now it also has a Christian aspect that theirs don’t.

    I have one more book in the series that is left unwritten, because I wouldn’t know what to do with it if it was finished.

    So, instead, I worked on a novel called Deputized, still literary Western, but without the complicating aspect of the MC being a Christian. I sold it to Five Star Publishing earlier this year, out in 2020.

    Now, I’m working on a literary YA. definitely not Christian. But, I am a Christian and would like to work in that area more, if I could. But, writing novels, all on spec, then trying to find just the right agent, just the right publisher is massively time-consuming.

    Thank you for your response, it’s the closest I’ve gotten to a professional to talk to about it.

  40. Avatar
    T.L. Davis September 3, 2019 at 6:32 pm #

    I wrote a longer reply, but the software thought I already said it.

    Short and sweet, thank you for your opinion. The problem is, as a writer, I am on the outside. It takes me months and months of investigation to figure out who to send my work to. I have had more luck with publishers than agents.

    I sold a book earlier this year to Five Star Publishing, but I dropped the Christian aspect to make it easier to market.

    What I write is highly realistic and compelling, but through all of the submission requirements I have read, thousands of them, I have not yet seen one that says:
    “I would like to see literary fiction with a Christian aspect, but otherwise a mainstream novel.”

    I’m sure they are out there and in another couple of years, I will find them.

    Thank you

  41. Avatar
    Dee September 19, 2019 at 12:13 pm #

    I’m curious. What disqualifies a Christian novel from being pitched to the general market? I’ve seen many secular books with references to church, or God, or Scripture, so is there a hypothetical “line” drawn somewhere? If so, how is that determined?

    I guess the greater question might be, is there an advantage to selling to the general market? I’ve always assumed it’s a larger market. Am I wrong about that?


    • Bob Hostetler
      Bob Hostetler September 19, 2019 at 12:28 pm #

      Nothing “disqualifies” a “Christian” novel from being PITCHED to the general market, per se. But things such as preachiness and “Christianese” (jargon) will make an offer highly unlikely. All in all, the general market isn’t averse to references to church, God, or scripture, when they’re handled well.

      Also, you’re right that the general market is much larger than the Christian market.

      • Avatar
        Dee September 19, 2019 at 1:25 pm #

        Ah. That makes sense. And good to know. Thank you.

  42. Avatar
    marceehessgmailcom November 2, 2019 at 3:43 pm #

    When agents mention social media engagement, what kind of numbers are you hoping to see? I’d like to have a goal to shoot for.
    I have a blog as well, but there again, I don’t know what numbers might be good to achieve before thinking I have a large enough platform.
    Any help is appreciated!

  43. Avatar
    Serah November 7, 2019 at 12:34 pm #

    I really enjoy that you prefaced that you are not looking writer who are analogous to writers out their. That is what saturate the market. Also, differentiating allows hopefuls to be genuine, authentic, and create something new. I also enjoy that that you are not looking for one hit wonders. Writing is a relationship. It makes sense to want to see see what has been produced as an result of that relationship. You are an agent after my own heart.

  44. Avatar
    Heather Earles April 22, 2020 at 8:33 am #

    Mr. Hostetler,
    Thanks for the details. Sometimes it feels like you need to have an inside connection to break through to traditional publishing. I like sound advice and do not get my feelings hurt when receiving it. I plan to send you a proposal once I have it finished. Thank you.

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