Below the following announcement is a question and answer session with Steve Laube.
(January 1, 2014 – Phoenix, AZ) Steve Laube, president of The Steve Laube Agency, has agreed to purchase Marcher Lord Press, the premier publisher of Science Fiction and Fantasy for the Christian market. The sale was finalized on January 1, 2014.
Laube has long been a champion of the genre, going back to his days as an acquisition editor at Bethany House Publishers. Jeff Gerke, the founder of Marcher Lord Press, said “I could not have found a better person to buy the company I started in 2008.” Marcher Lord Press has a backlist of about 40 titles with many of them nominated or winning both Christy and Carol awards for being the best in their genre.
The new Marcher Lord Press will be run as a separate company from Steve Laube’s literary agency. The agency, founded in 2004, has four agents and over 150 active authors (www.stevelaube.com) with contracts for nearly 1,000 new books. Gerke will focus his efforts on his freelance editorial and publishing service business and his own writing.
“The plan is to continue with what Jeff started and release between 4-8 new titles in 2014,” Laube said. “I have long believed that this genre has been underserved in our industry despite its inherent ability to tell ‘Fantastic’ stories of philosophical and theological depth.”
Q & A with Steve Laube
Why Marcher Lord Press?
I have had a passion for Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy ever since my days as a bookseller in the 80s and as an editor for Bethany House Publishers in the 90s. I first fell in love with science fiction as a kid reading Mysterious Island by Jules Verne and the Pellucidar books by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Fiction can portray the power of the Gospel through great stories of redemption, hope, and grace. Science Fiction is a unique genre that attempts to answer the philosophical and theological questions of “Who are we?” and “Why are we here?” In most Fantasy novels there is an implicit story of good versus evil where good triumphs. In addition the whole genre has the opportunity to build worlds never before explored (to quote the famous line: “To boldly go where no man has gone before.”). The boundaries for creativity in storytelling are limitless. No other genre can do that quite the same way.
Aren’t you competing with the same publishers to whom you sell your client’s proposals?
Technically the answer is “yes,” but practically the answer is “no.” Few publishers in the Christian market publish the science fiction or fantasy genres. However we continue to sell our clients to those who do well with these books. Patrick Carr, for example, just agreed to a new contract with Bethany House. Lisa Bergren’s YA titles are published by both David C. Cook and the Blink imprint of Zonderkidz. Chuck Black has a new adventure series releasing this Spring from Waterbrook/Multnomah and Evangeline Denmark has just signed with Blink.
In addition, Marcher Lord Press (MLP) releases only 4-8 titles per year. The readership of the genre are enthusiastic and voracious. Thus I don’t see MLP being competition in the larger sense of the word.
One publisher talked with me last Friday and applauded the move saying “We need champions of great fiction in our market.”
Isn’t this a conflict of interest with other agents?
I don’t see that as a problem. The agent community is a small one and we tend to know each other and respect each other’s abilities. I look forward to helping agents and their authors find a landing place and their unique voice in a niche genre. Our own agency’s agents will have the same chance to sell to MLP because it is set up as a company separate from The Steve Laube Agency. Amanda Luedeke with MacGregor Literary addressed this in her blog last Thursday.
Isn’t this a conflict of interest with authors? Are you only going to publish your agency’s authors?
The goal is to publish the best. Nothing changes in that regard. There are some tremendous writers already in the MLP catalog and we hope to continue those relationships. We will also be looking for new voices as well as those that are already established.
We will consider both agented and unagented submissions. The submission guidelines are found on the Marcher Lord Press website.
What about books published under the Hinterlands imprint of Marcher Lord Press and the recently released Amish Vampires in Space?
These are actually two different issues and should be treated separately. I chose not to purchase those assets and agreed to have those publication rights sold elsewhere or revert to their respective authors.
Hinterlands was created in 2012 as an imprint of MLP to publish science-fiction and fantasy stories with mature content and themes (i.e. PG-13 or R-rated language, sexuality, and violence). That imprint and all those titles have been sold by Jeff Gerke to a third party and will likely reappear under a new publishing name in the near future.
Amish Vampires in Space was not part of Hinterlands and is a well written book (no surprise considering Kerry Neitz is the author). Jeff Gerke, Kerry Neitz, and I discussed this prior to my purchasing MLP. While we have differing opinions on its publication, ultimately it would not have been a book I would have published had I been the publisher. The title has reverted to Kerry and the book is still available for sale in most major online outlets.
What is your vision for the new Marcher Lord Press?
A “Marcher Lord” was a noble warrior who served as a guardian of the borders. That definition is a perfect metaphor for the Science Fiction and Fantasy stories published by MLP. We will continue to build the company on its existing foundation and through the power of great stories explore the boundaries of imagination. It is there where heroic adventures, sacrificial living, and redemptive characters are found.
Initially it will be business as usual. The people and resources already in place will remain unchanged. There are plans for a number of new releases in 2014 including the debut novel by Nadine Brandes called A Time to Die (which you must read) as well as the continuation of other ongoing series by John Otte, Morgan Busse, and Stuart Stockton. MLP has been and will continue to be the premier publisher of Science Fiction and Fantasy for the Christian market.
A Thank You
I would like to thank Jeff Gerke for the hard work, actually his blood, sweat, and tears, that he put into founding and building Marcher Lord Press into the company it is today.