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CONTENT

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

CAREER

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.

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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

Reader Expectations

Guest blog by Robin Lee Hatcher

Robin Lee Hatcher and I (Karen Ball) have been friends for a lot of years. One of the things I most respect about her is the respect and love she has for her readers. She doesn’t write just for the sake of telling a good story. She writes to uplift and encourage her readers, to remind them they’re not alone in their struggles and challenges. Robin tells stories right from the heart, and her readers love her for it. With good reason.

So welcome, Robin, to the Steve Laube Agency Blog. I can’t wait to see what you’ve decided to share with us!

And in case you are wondering, best-selling novelist Robin Lee Hatcher is known for her heartwarming and emotionally charged stories of faith, courage, and love. She makes her home in Idaho where she enjoys spending time with her family, her high-maintenance Papillon, Poppet, and Princess Pinky, the cat who currently terrorizes the household. Her latest release, from Women of Faith Fiction, is Heart of Gold, set during the Civil War in the gold camps of Idaho.

Robin can be found on the Internet in the following places:
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/robinleehatcher
Write Thinking blog:http://blog.robinleehatcher.com
Twitter: @robinleehatcher
Web site: http://www.robinleehatcher.com

__________

I write genre fiction, and I say it without apology. I write what is often called “popular fiction” (to which I always want to ask, “Why would I want to write unpopular fiction?”). My 65+ books fall into such genres (or sub-genres) as historical sagas, historical romance, contemporary romance, and contemporary women’s fiction. All of my books since 1999 are also Christian fiction.

Writers of genre fiction often bristle when someone says the word “formula.” To many, that equates to saying all of our books are the same, that if you follow some predefined formula anybody could write one. But all historical romances, for instance, are not the same. The journeys of the heroes and heroines are unique to a book’s plot and to a writer’s style and voice. There isn’t a formula to be followed. (Sometimes I wish there were!) So if that is the meaning when someone says “formula,” then I’ll bristle too.

However, all historical romance (again my “for instance” genre) are the same when it comes to meeting readers expectations. Or at least, they’d better be.

When a reader picks up a romance, they expect the hero and heroine to overcome the problems (physical and emotional) that separate them and, by the end of the book, to make a lasting commitment to one another in love. When a reader picks up a mystery, they expect the protagonist to solve the mystery by the end of the book. When a reader picks up a fantasy, they expect to find themselves in another realm of some sort.

Fail to meet readers’ expectations, and a genre novel will fail to satisfy.

In Stanley D. Williams’ The Moral Premise (a book for screenwriters but applicable to novelists too), he writes:

Genre films create certain audience expectations for the protagonist. Often the protagonist’s arc is known by the audience before the movie begins. Such expectations about the construction of genres may predetermine how the protagonist reacts to the story’s moral premise and conflict. This is because, as Thomas Schatz explains in Hollywood Genres, genre movies deal with fundamental cultural conflicts that can never be ultimately resolved but yet offer a solution, if only temporary and idealistic. Schatz refers to these fundamental, never-truly-to-be-resolved conflicts as the “static nucleus” of genre stories, and the resolution as the film’s “dynamic surface structure.”

In these terms, Westerns are stories about rugged individualism; that is, a hero who helps a community resolve a problem of social integration that brings about a new social order. But in the end, our Western hero returns to his individual ways and cannot himself be integrated into the new order.

[and a little later]

In the Romantic Comedy the fundamental differences between the sexes are temporarily resolved through a new order of compromise for the sake of love. But after the wedding, everyone expects the sparks to fly again.

Genre, therefore, helps define and describe the arc that the story, and thus each character, is expected to take as they test and then embrace or reject the Moral Premise.

As I prepare this post, I am close to 25% finished with my latest work-in-progress (WIP) which is (bet you already guessed) an historical romance. It will release in the spring of 2013.

I’ve written dozens of historical romances in my career (complete list here), but I have never before written the story of Tyson and Diana, the hero and heroine of my WIP. Their stories as individuals have never been told before. Their story as a couple hasn’t been told before either. And that’s why readers of historical romance will want to pick up this novel even if they’ve read a thousand romances before this one. Because they’ll want to know Tyson and Diana and discover how these two individuals, who have such obstacles facing them and forcing them apart, will ever manage to overcome those same obstacles in order to find a lasting love.

Formula? No. Meeting a reader’s expectations? Yes. The latter is both my job and my pleasure.

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News You Can Use – April 3, 2012

The Spirituality of Rejection – Chris Able asks “Can rejection be good for you?”

In Case You’ve Been Asleep – The Harry Potter franchise is now available in ebook form on the Pottermore web site. It will be interesting to hear sales data if they are willing to share.

Twelve Blogging Mistakes to Avoid – Jeff Bullas gives great advice.

15 Twitter Hashtags That Every Writer Should Know About – if you know what that headline means this is a helpful article. If you don’t? Click through to find out.

The Instant Art Critique Generator – Impress your friends! Type in any five digit number and get a phrase to use to make yourself sound intelligent.

And here are the cliches most used to describe art. Do you use them to describe your book?

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Think Before You Read

by Steve Laube

I collect books. I graze through them like I’m at an all-you-can-eat buffet. I sample this tidbit and that. Eventually I get enough to eat or have found the right morsel to consume until it is finished.

It helps make me an eclectic sort. But there are days, even weeks, where I must discipline myself to become immersed in extraordinary writing. It is there where the soul can be fed and nourished.

I came across a quote from the great Charles Bridges, a well respected pastor in the Church of England whose Exposition of Psalm 119 (published 1827) is a masterpiece. A couple years later he wrote a book directed at those in the ministry. But I thought it applicable to everyone who reads. Especially in our modern era of content consumption without digestion.

Ardent minds wish, and seem almost to expect, to gain all at once. There is here, as in religion, “a zeal not according to knowledge.”— There is too great haste in decision, and too little time for weighing, for storing, or for wisely working out the treasure. Hence arises that most injurious habit of skimming over books, rather than perusing them. The mind has only hovered upon the surface, and gained but a confused remembrance of passing matter, and an acquaintance with first principles far too imperfect for practical utility. The ore of knowledge is purchased in the lump, but never separated, or applied to important objects.

Some again need discretion in the direction of their study. They study books more than themselves. They lose themselves in the multiplicity of books; and find to their cost, that in reading as well as “making books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.” Bishop Wilkins observes, “There is as much art and benefit in the right choice of such books, with which we should be most familiar, as there is in the election of other friends or acquaintances, with whom we may most profitably converse.” No man can read everything; nor would our real store be increased by the capacity to do so. The digestive powers would be overloaded for want of time to act, and uncontrolled confusion would reign within. It is far more easy to furnish our library than our understanding.

May you be inspired to think about what you are reading and why you are reading it.

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True Confessions

When our eldest daughter was learning about various religions in college, she told me that converts to the Greek Orthodox faith must make a lifetime confession. This would mean confessing all of your past sins. Don’t worry — joining our agency does not require a lifetime confession. However, we do need to know about your publishing past.

Poor Sales History

Poor sales of your books in the past can be a challenge. Major publishers always ask for these details because the accounts to whom they sell ask for those details. A poor track record can suggest more of the same with the next book. That is one advantage of a debut author…no sales history. However, when talking to us about your career, this is no time to be coy leave us uncertain about a less than stellar sales history. Instead, let us know so we can strategize how to overcome that obstacle. And if we can’t come up with a good strategy and you have to find a different agent? This is not the worst thing that can happen. Rather, it would be worse for both of us to waste everyone’s time if another agent can come up with the right strategy for your career.

Wish I Had not Written That

What if you have great sales history, but you’re embarrassed by one of your previous works? Perhaps you wrote steamy novels or published a strident political tome before your views changed. Fortunately the Christian community is generally a special place of second chances.

More than once, I have met authors who wrote steamy books in the past, but now want to embark on a career writing for the Christian market. Is this possible?

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