The Steve Laube Agencyis committed to providing top quality guidance to authors and speakers. Our years of experience and success brings a unique service to our clients. We focus primarily in the Christian marketplace and have put together an outstanding gallery of authors and speakers whose books continue to make an impact throughout the world.
Authors we represent
How to send your proposal
learn about the publishing industry

Our Service Philosophy


To help the author develop and create the best book possible. Material that has both commercial appeal and long-term value.


To help the author determine the next best step in their writing career. Giving counsel regarding the subtleties of the marketplace as well as the realities of the publishing community.


To help the author secure the best possible contract. One that partners with the best strategic publisher and one that is mutually beneficial for all parties involved.

Recent Posts

The Editorial Process

by Steve Laube


It is important to understand the process through which a book takes under the umbrella called “The Edit.” I meet many first timers who think it is just a one-time pass over their words and that is all that will ever happen. And many who self-publish think that hiring a high school English teacher to check for grammar is enough of an edit.

There are four major stages to the Editorial Process. Unfortunately they are called by various names depending on which publisher you are working with, which can create confusion. I will try to list the various terms but keep them under the four categories.

Rewrites / Revisions/Substantive Edit

These can happen multiple times. You could get input from your agent or an editor who suggests you rewrite or revise those sample chapters of the full manuscript. Last year I suggested that one of my non-fiction clients cut the book in half and change its focus. We sold this first time author. But the writer had to do a lot of work to get it ready for the proposal stage.

There are some publishers that will do this stage after a book has already been contracted because they saw the potential in the proposal. And note that this stage isn’t always necessary. It all depends on the quality of that final draft you turned in to your publisher. Few get it perfect the first time.

Line Edit / Substantive Edit/Content Edit

Already you can see a descriptive term repeated. This stage is where the editor, usually a senior editor, or an editor is hired by the publisher to look at the book closely. This stage can morph into a rewrite (see above) if there are substantive changes. In some ways it is like a mechanic pulling apart an engine and inspecting the parts, and then putting it all back together again.

Sometimes this stage is very light sometimes it can feel heavy handed. Neither is wrong. Trust the editor to have the desire to make your book better.

Remember that this stage can be a form of negotiation. Ultimately it is your name on the finished book. An editor should not dictate but should facilitate. It is ultimately a partnership. And if you find that perfect partner…do what you can to work with them over and over. But also do not blind yourself into thinking that you are always right.


This can be done in-house or with a freelancer. One friend of mine calls this stage “The Grammar Police.” The copyeditor’s job is to check grammar, punctuation, spelling, and consistency. If your book has unusual spellings (like characters with Czechoslovakian names) consider creating a separate document called a style sheet which should be submitted with your manuscript so the copyeditor will know you meant to spell a word that way. Consistency is the key.

This edit takes a special skill. The editor is technically not reading for content. They are looking at each word for accuracy in communication.

It can be a stage fraught with humor. Like the time a copy editor changed the phrase “woulda, coulda, shoulda” to “would have, could have, should have” because the first was grammatically incorrect.

Unfortunately this stage can also be fraught with danger if the copyeditor suddenly takes the role of substantive editor, after that stage has already passed. I’ve heard stories of character names being changed, entire scenes rewritten, etc. If you have trouble at this stage, appeal to your senior (or acquisitions) editor and see if the changes had been approved before being sent to you.

Again, remember that this can be a place for negotiation. But if you are breaking the rules of grammar or spelling be prepared to defend yourself. But please, “Never Burn a Bridge.”


If the line editor is looking at the paragraph for content, and the copy editor is looking at every word for accuracy, the proofreader is looking at every letter and punctuation mark for perfection.

Again, this takes a special skill. I once sat on a plane next to an amazing freelance proofreader. I proudly showed her an article I was writing. She found ten mistakes per page. Every one of them was my fault for being sloppy. I ate humble pie with my bag of peanuts.

This proofreader is the last protection you have before the book is tossed into the market.

Error Free Publishing!

With all these eyes on your book you are guaranteed to have a product with no typos or errors of any kind….oops…that isn’t true.

Despite every effort and a lot of smart people working on your book, an error is bound to slip through. I remember one book where we had the author, three of his students, myself, a copy editor, and two proofreaders go through a book. Eight people. The book was published and the author’s critics found a dozen errors within the first week. Sigh.

Do your publishers a favor. If you find an error? Make a note of it (page number, line number, and error) and write a quick note to the editorial department of that publisher respectfully pointing it out. A file is usually kept of every book and when it is time to reprint the book they can go in and correct the error. And in the ebook world the digital file can be corrected fairly easy.

Your Turn

Does this explanation match your experience with a Traditional Publisher?

Does your editor use “track changes” on screen or a red pen on hardcopy (like shown in today’s picture above)?

Leave a Comment

Fresh Formulas

Some have a hard time appreciating the talent involved in writing genre fiction. By genre fiction, I mean novels that fall into a defined category such as contemporary romance, historical romance, romantic suspense, or cozy mystery. Many of these novels are published by mass market publishers (like Harlequin) and fit in lines they have formed for the sole purpose of selling the genre.

These are distinguished from Trade fiction where there isn’t necessarily a specific line that has been formed to sell a genre, although there are exceptions to that “rule” like the “Love Finds You” series from Summerside Press. In publisher’s lingo “trade” means a 5 1/2″ by 8 1/2″ trim size and is probably between 80,000 and 100,000 words in length. “Genre” or “category” fiction can mean the 4″ by 6″ trim size (also known as mass market) and between 50,000 words and 70,000 words.

Read More

Let Creativity Flow (Part Four)

Great discussions on creativity, everyone. Just reading your comments is sparking my creativity! So here are the last of my thoughts on what you can do when that well of ideas seems to have run dry:

Take a Time Out. Remember how that works? Time outs? When you were a kid and got a little out of control, Mom sent you to the Time Out chair to cool off. Well, this is a similar principle. Too often we try too hard, which only makes creativity that much harder to find. So take a time-out. Give yourself time to play, to move, to get out of the house, away from your everyday life. Get out in nature. The woods, the ocean, a local park. Go to the library. Go to a museum and let the beauty of other people’s creativity wash over you. Go to the gun range and, as my hubby calls it, “plink.” Take a break from being an adult. Getting away from “it all,” at least once in a while, is restorative.

Read More

News You Can Use – Jan. 31, 2012

Amazon’s Hit Man – The is a very good article about Larry Kirshbaum the new head of Amazon’s Trade Publishing division. Every serious writer should read this article. Take the time, it is only 3,400 words. Source is Blomberg’s Business Week magazine.

Is There Hope for Barnes & Noble? – an interesting take by Rich Adin.

Why Are We Obsessed with What’s New? – Maria Popova reviews a book that explored this sociological phenomenon. Oh, by the way, the book is new… 🙂

How to Read a Book – Chad Hall explores the various ways to read. I do a lot of #4.

Will Non-Fiction E-books Achieve the Same Success as Fiction? – Laurel Marshfield explores why e-book fiction outsells e-book non-fiction and whether that will ever change.

Do You Sit at the Computer All Day? – Then read this life-saving article from LifeHacker.

This is a very creative short film (15 minutes), watch it with your kids! It is also an incredible interactive iPad app. Check it out.

Read More