Taking Your Questions


In my ongoing quest to address the needs of our blog readers, I am answering more questions authors have posed in the comments section of past blogs.

What publishers do you generally work with, and with which ones do you have the closest working relationship, or usually contact first? Which ones do you avoid? And why?

What I think you really want to know is, “If I sign with you, where will I land?”  I will break down your question into parts in hopes of offering clear insight.

Publishers we generally work with:

We work with all the top drawer publishers. A quick look at our client list as it appears on our web site is proof positive. You name a Christian publisher and we’ve probably done business with them.

Which publishers we work with most closely:

We have excellent relationships with dozens of publishers. For us, it’s not a matter of which house we work with most closely, because we work closely with them all, but which house is right for the author. Routinely, projects we represent generate strong interest from several houses. When considering interest, we look of course at contract terms. We also consider the author’s ministry, career, and financial goals, along with the overarching mission and personality of the house. While all CBA houses work to glorify God’s kingdom, the differences in their individual missions may be nuanced. We look at where the author will be a good fit and plan accordingly.

First we contact:

We contact those publishers where we think the author will be successful.

We avoid:

Fly-by-night publishers or those with little or no track record of success. Between the three of us we have seen many come and go and we want our clients to be successful.


Your turn:

How much research have you done regarding publishing houses?

Who is your dream publisher and why?

How involved do you want to be in deciding where your agent will send your work?

20 Responses to Taking Your Questions

  1. Avatar
    Jackie Layton January 24, 2013 at 5:32 am #

    I love your answer.

    Some of my friends are now published, but I’ve never heard of their publisher before and wonder how many readers they’ll reach.

    Thanks for sharing.

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    Jan Cline January 24, 2013 at 6:35 am #

    Hi Tamela, I’ve had the privilege to pitch to and work with a few publishers. I have to say that I don’t envy their job. I can’t imagine having to sort through ms after ms trying to find a gem and have to disappoint so many writers who have high hopes. But I have a fondness for Harvest House, not only because of their collection of fine authors and titles, but because I have spoken several times with one of their editors and have great respect for his opinion and integrity. Although I like to encourage small press publishers, I think most writers want a big house for obvious reasons. But I do know they have an important place in this business.
    I want to have a relationship with an agent that I can trust will choose the right publisher. Even though I am a bit involved in the business professionally, I would never be in a position to choose and negotiate with a publisher for my work. That’s why we need agents! It’s a synergistic process – we all need each other. 🙂

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    Pat Jaeger January 24, 2013 at 7:05 am #

    My writing group and I have done a lot of research on publishers, big and small, new and established, and we’ve looked over some houses’ standard contracts to get a working knowledge of what’s involved. The established houses are more attractive to me because I’ve watched a few friends get involved with unknowns and get burned.

    The houses I’m most interested in are the ones who work with the “real life” Christian walk, mission. It’s not always rosy, where everything turns out perfect. Some publishers want only the nice side of life, others are willing to handle the more realistic happily-ever-afters!(Oxymoron? Nah!)

    The agent has the knowledge, the contacts, and hopefully the business sense to pair author with publisher and work a good deal for all parties–that’s why I want to go with an agent. I write. I love public speaking. I am good at many things, but I am old enough and wise enough to have learned that I am not good at the business/negotiation end.

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    Jeanne T January 24, 2013 at 7:15 am #

    Tamela, what a great post. I’ve done some research on publishers, but I should do more. Based on what I’ve read, I think my stories would fit well with Waterbrook. I would definitely defer to my agent, when I am represented by one, to know the best places for my stories, though. I’m thinking, when I have an agent, it might be nice to have some input as to where my story is pitched, but I would, again, defer to “my” agent to know the best places to introduce my story.

    This is not an industry where I want to try and fly solo.

  5. Avatar
    Lisa Phillips January 24, 2013 at 7:52 am #

    I signed my first book with Love Inspired (suspense) October of last year, so they’ll always be very special to me. I love working with Emily, but if it weren’t for Twitter I’d never know she liked penguins so much! Twitter is a great resource.

    Now that I’m writing a full length romantic suspense with a view to submitting it to agents and then editors, I appreciate knowing you look for the publisher that’s best for the agent.


  6. Avatar
    Meghan Carver January 24, 2013 at 8:44 am #

    Tamela, I so much appreciate the agency’s openness, like the list of clients you all represent. So many questions are answered already, just be searching your site.

    I would love to be able to discuss publishing options with an agent, but I can’t imagine not relying on said agent’s years of experience and wisdom.

    • Avatar
      Tamela Hancock Murray January 24, 2013 at 11:07 am #

      Good point, Meghan. Authors can save themselves and agents a lot of time just by gleaning information from our sites!

  7. Avatar
    Rachel Muller January 24, 2013 at 9:09 am #

    Enjoyed reading today’s post! Great insight!

    Over the past 1 1/2 yr. I have read many insightful blogs by agents, editors, and authors. But this blog site has seemed the most personal. I appreciate the truthful and straightforward answers I read through the Steve Laube Agency.
    Thank you again for sharing. 🙂

    I have bought the Writer’s Market Guide, visited and read all ms guidelines of almost every large publishing house in the industry,(who deals with Christian Fiction) and consulted with other authors about who they would recommend or prefer. Sarah Sundin also asked me the same question when I consulted with her, “Which House do you have in mind?”

    I have 4 tucked away in my head where it would seem my work would best fit based on my own research: Revell, Harvest House, Bethany House, and Summerside Press. The problem I quickly found is they no longer accept unsolicited ms’s. I did a little more research and also quickly found that using an agent is the better way to go all the way around. Most author’s have agreed with this!

    As far as involvement in the querying process, I would like to be updated with where my ms is heading, but I would also fully trust the agent’s expertise on which publisher he/she decides to send it to.

    With as many queries and proposals you aquire in such a short amount of time, I honestly don’t know how you do it!!
    Great job!! 🙂


    • Avatar
      Tamela Hancock Murray January 24, 2013 at 11:06 am #

      Rachel, thank you so much for your kind words. You brightened my day. 😀

  8. Avatar
    Ron Estrada January 24, 2013 at 10:03 am #

    I guess I don’t really have a dream publisher. At this stage in my career, I would tend to trust the advice of my agent. If I find the right relationship there, I have to trust him or her to act in my best interest. I’ve researched publishers, but can’t really say who would be the best fit, though Westbow seems to be the one I identify with most with my suspense writing. As a full-time engineer plus another side job, I need to devote every spare minute to just the writing. Hopefully, I won’t have to be an industry expert, as much as I love to read up on it. I just have to concentrate on being a better writer.

  9. Avatar
    Heather Day Gilbert January 24, 2013 at 10:16 am #

    Ah, dream publisher! I will say I’m UBER-impressed with Waterbrook/Multnomah. Not only do their books look fantastic, they seem to have a lot of respect for their authors (providing author retreats, re-posting from author FB pages onto THEIR FB page). I won’t name others since my proposal is still out on submission. But yes, I hope to get in Waterbrook’s doors someday, somehow…

  10. Avatar
    Lesley January 24, 2013 at 1:19 pm #

    I am very new to the publishing world. Tamela, what would you say is the best way to even go about researching publishing houses? Should I start by buying the Writer’s Market Guide and hop on individual publisher websites? I’ve gained a few good ideas just by reading the comments on this post but I’m still a bit confused about how people know which publishers (and agents for that matter) are a good fit for their writing. Thanks for your great insight.

    • Avatar
      Lisa Phillips January 24, 2013 at 1:39 pm #

      Lesley – the writers market guide is a great resource, it will tell you what the particular publisher is looking for. But the list is so long, it can get overwhelming.

      My recommendation would be to find books similar to your style in genre and voice and see what publisher put them out – then go to the website. Also check the author’s acknowledgments, often they mention who their agent is!

      Hope that helps

      • Avatar
        Lesley January 24, 2013 at 2:41 pm #

        Thank you so much, Lisa! These are fantastic ideas. 🙂

    • Avatar
      Tamela Hancock Murray January 28, 2013 at 1:47 pm #

      Lesley, sorry for my delay in responding, but I was having trouble posting replies on Friday. Lisa is absolutely right in her suggestion. I will also add that you are doing the right thing by following agent blogs and interacting with us. That way, you can learn about us and see who’s a good fit.

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    Angie Dicken January 24, 2013 at 1:51 pm #

    When I first started writing, I had no idea about publishers! And then I went to my first ACFW and felt very lost amidst all the different houses. Ever since then, I pay attention to who publishes the books I like and don’t like. Sometimes there is a trend, and sometimes not. I used to have a dream publisher in mind, but I’ve come to realize that only God really knows. Why do I try and limit myself when God knows who the perfect fit is for me? I’m so thankful that He has blessed me with an agent who is much more experienced in this industry than me, and can see from a perspective that I can’t.:)
    Thanks for all you do!

  12. Avatar
    Rick Barry January 24, 2013 at 2:16 pm #

    I wouldn’t want to be overly involved in suggesting where an agent submits my work. Sure, if I notice that one house has published something in a similar vein, I would mention that. But part of the advantage of having an agent is that I could be spared the need of researching all the most likely houses, plus the names of editors currently working at them. If I respect an agent well enough to sign a contract, then there’s a certain amount of trust sealed into that agreement.

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    C.L. Dyck January 24, 2013 at 2:38 pm #

    It’s not so much a dream publisher for me, as that there are particular people I’ve come to deeply appreciate and respect. I hope to work with some of them, sometime, but as Angie said, God leads.

    I do enjoy following the various publishers’ offerings and learning about the nuances. It’s pretty cool how humanized our industry is, as compared to the industrial manufacturing setting where my husband works.

  14. Avatar
    Jan Thompson January 24, 2013 at 3:12 pm #

    “Who is your dream publisher and why?”

    I have two genres I’m passionate about. I’m keeping my eyes open for publishers who publish in BOTH genres. Do publishers frown on new authors who have MSS in more than one genre? Do they tell them to self-publish in one of the genres?

    “How involved do you want to be in deciding where your agent will send your work?”

    Having been in IT for a long time, I’m of the mindset that I should let the experts be experts. I consider agents to be experts, so I’m going to be listening to wise counsel from my agent, whenever I’m privileged to have one, whoever he/she is. You know, if she says stick to one genre in which my voice is stronger, I will.

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