What I Am Looking for As an Agent

A book has no impact if no one reads it, and how can people read a book they have never heard of? While I am a new agent, I am not new to the industry. For over a decade, I have helped Christian authors change the world by helping them market their books.

I’ve built their websites, managed advertising, and counseled them on their business practices, and in some cases been part of their spiritual growth.

These are the things I want to continue to offer, but now as an agent to a select number of authors.

The kind of authors I’m looking for have three primary qualities:

Courage

The world is broken. As Christians, we have the truth of Christ that the world desperately needs.

I want to partner with authors who are willing to face that brokenness and write the truth even when the truth hurts to write. Can you write truth to power others while motivated by love? If so, I want to stand with you as you change the world. If you’ve been persecuted for your position, I want to see your proposal.

To be clear, I’m looking for more than just controversial books. Your book doesn’t need to be controversial to advance the Kingdom. I am looking for authors with the courage to write clearly and the courage to promote their work publicly. Remember, courage is not the absence of fear; it is correct action in the face of fear.

For more on courage listen to How to Find Your Courage as an Author.

I’m looking for authors:

  • with clear, simple writing.
  • who are willing to tackle today’s controversial issues and topics.
  • with a track record of putting themselves out there as the face of their message.
  • who have a passion for the truth in their writing.

Resonance

You have a message. I want to see that you have found an audience that resonates with your message.

Do people retweet your tweets, share your blog posts, and invite you to speak on their stage? I am not concerned about the size of the audience as much as the passion of your people. Gideon’s three hundred can be better than Saul’s legions.

For more on resonance listen to: Resonance and Why Platform is Not Important Like You Think

I’m looking for authors:

  • who know who they are reaching with their message and more importantly who they are not trying to reach. I am looking for specifically defined audiences that go beyond demographic information like age and gender.
  • with a blog, podcast, or YouTube channel with an active following. I want to see your analytics/insights/stats.

Hustle

Your message deserves someone willing to put in the work to get it out into the world. I’m looking for authors who realize success won’t be handed to them on a silver platter and are willing to do the work, both to learn and to do. Are you hungry to learn? If so, I want to teach you everything I know.

For more on hustle listen to How to Find Your Hustle as an Author.

I’m looking for authors:

  • who have made publishing a priority by saying no to distractions and putting in the time to create and grow.
  • with a track record of improvement over time. Has your blog grown? Is the quality getting better? That’s what I am looking for!
  • who continue to read books and listen to podcasts to improve their craft at both writing and marketing.

What I’m not looking for:

  • Adult or YA fiction
  • Poetry
  • Memoirs
  • Books not intended for a Christian market.

29 Responses to What I Am Looking for As an Agent

  1. Rebekah Love Dorris October 6, 2018 at 6:09 am #

    Seriously?! This is huge! I feel like Christian publishing just got doused in peppermint oil just before they passed out! Congratulations and God bless you richly!

    • Ed February 12, 2019 at 1:59 pm #

      I am a first time author prayerfully looking at agents. Two things I liked about you is your passion for truth and keeping it simple.

  2. Loretta Eidson October 6, 2018 at 6:21 am #

    Hello, Thomas! Tamela is my agent, but I wanted to congratulate you on your new agent status. Blessings!

  3. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser October 6, 2018 at 6:35 am #

    So, first and most important question…is it Thomas, Tom, T-bone..?

    Seriously, it’s good to meet you, to read this fresh and encouraging introduction to your interests, and to feel the ground shake under the mossy walls of convention. I hear trumpets, away in the dawn.

    I won’t cause you an eye-roll so early this morning with a breathless “Here’s my concept, what do you think???”, mainly because I still don’t know how to write it.

    See, I’m not an expert at this slow, slow death from pancreatic cancer and lymphoma. The hidden vistas of joy are seen for the first time as if illuminated by lightning, and the immanence of God is on the rolling thunder, and flares so brightly in what I would have taken for darkness.

    I’ve only been doing this once, and I’ve blogged about it, with sometimes puerile and often awkward words (see above, yeah?) that can’t reach the terrible, excruciating fulfillment of life that is found in death.

    Maybe if I were a reincarnating Buddhist, or a time-looping Dr. Strange, I could get more experience, get better at this!

    And hey, I could then call the book ‘Live Die Repeat’.

    And Tom Cruise could play me in the movie, which has already been made. Now THAT is convenient.

    I’m beginning to like this time-manipulation concept, especially since honestly, I don’t want to die. Not like this.

  4. Julie Surface Johnson October 6, 2018 at 7:22 am #

    Thank you, Thomas, for saying just the right words to breathe hope into this writer. I will put BIC and work to finish my novels on trafficking and DACA Dreamers. You can be certain i’ll query you.

    • Tyler October 10, 2018 at 11:51 am #

      Julie, if you’re finishing “novels” take note that he’s not looking for adult or YA fiction.

  5. Norma Brumbaugh October 6, 2018 at 7:46 am #

    Welcome. You have a clear vision. I wish you well as your journey continues. Blessings.

  6. Ann Coker October 6, 2018 at 8:09 am #

    Welcome aboard. You have a place in a good agency.

  7. Tisha Martin October 6, 2018 at 12:04 pm #

    Wow, great What Am I Looking For? blog post. Thank you for recognizing that there are hard issues that need to be written about and striving to support authors who have that very message to share. Congratulations and welcome to the Laube Agency.

  8. Nan Rinella October 6, 2018 at 2:31 pm #

    Congratulations Thomas. Steve told me the good news in Nashville. So happy for you. FYI … for all the writers tuning in, I’ve known and worked with Thomas since he entered the author arena, and then presented at the writers track at the C.S. Lewis Foundation Texas retreats. He created my first website and has given me a great deal of beneficial advice. I have worked with him often in the past 10 years.

    I wish you much success as you work to penetrate this dark world with Light. Blessings on your new adventure.

  9. Deborah Clack October 6, 2018 at 4:22 pm #

    Wonderful vision, Thomas. This is inspiration for each of us to keep in mind, no matter where we are in the writing process. Thank you!

  10. claire o'sullivan October 6, 2018 at 4:35 pm #

    Welcome, Thomas~

    Fresh air.

    In my case, if wishes were fishes.

    The SLA has the best and brightest.

    Thank you

  11. Kathleen Denly October 7, 2018 at 7:00 pm #

    Congratulations on becoming an agent. It sounds like you have a strong, clear vision and now a great team behind you.

  12. David Rawlings October 7, 2018 at 7:10 pm #

    Welcome to the Agency family Thomas. And great to read an insight into your approach … and your focus on passion rather than numbers. For too long platform has been discussed in the hushed reverence of numbers – even if they’re comprised of disinterested, disconnected followers.

  13. Elisabeth Warner October 10, 2018 at 11:11 am #

    Hey, you’re the guy who made the podcast about creating an author website! Nice to officially meet you. I write fiction, but I must say I still have hustle, courage, and resonance. It takes all of those qualities to brainstorm your main character’s way out of a forest of plot ideas!

    I’m looking forward to hearing more from you, Thomas.

  14. P.C. Field January 15, 2019 at 4:43 pm #

    Thomas, Thomas, Thomas, you lifted me up with excitement and hope and then dropped me into the abyss of doubt and frustration, but I am grateful at the same time.

    My story is about a supernatural spiritual personal relationship with God as a child and a teenager it is lost via the Dogma of the Catholic church. After a long walk on the darkside, the relationship is brought back to life through the seeking of Christ Jesus and going through many obstacles via more church dogmas and supernatural spiritual events.

    All leads to the re-union of the protagonist in spirit with God, Christ and the Holy Spirit, but it is written for the lost, not the found. Thus, my frustration of do I fit into a Christian genre or what it is, a spiritual memoir(which you are not interested)?

    I have had some tell me to drop all christian speak, such as “trials and tribulations, praise his name”, quote scripture or mention spirits and demons in the same sentence with epilepsy or fortune tellers. They have also told me that no christian publisher would accept it because of the raw content of the good and evil experienced, visions and dreams and the exposing of the hypocrisy of many different church doctrines of men and in one case a woman.

    With your experience in the Christian genre which would you recommend?
    I do not want to waste their or my time sending a query, synopsis or proposal.

  15. Ken Litwak January 20, 2019 at 6:26 pm #

    I really appreciate your podcast. I just listened to the episode on resonance and it raises question that I have long pondered but had no idea how to answer. The concept is simple enough: choose an audience and write things that they will want to read. I have chosen an audience: educated lay Christians that reads non-fiction for Christian formation. Max Lucado has sold far more books than I could ever hope to sell but I can’t write for his audience. I’m focused on the sorts of people who read InterVarsity Press books or similar sorts of works that are not for scholars but neither are they dumbed down. I have at least two challenges: figuring out how big that audience is—there’s little point in writing for ten people when I am hoping build up many more, if they don’t exist and how to learn what they are like; and determining what they are reading. The second one is a real challenge because I don’t know how to figure out what current trends are selling vs. What topics have come and gone, and what about writing on topics that are perennial? So if I picked, say, some new book that I think is in the category I want to write in, how would I know how many copies that book has sold? I have thought about the matter of trends and in the genre I want to write in, there have recently been a lot of books on racial issues. That’s not something I would try to write on. I don’t have anything useful to say. Your blog post on what you want as an agent talks bout controversial topics. I’m not currently looking to write that either. I have a background in academic biblical studies that I want to use to write books for those interested in learning about Scripture, Christian formation, discipleship, and similar topics. I’m never going to write Six Steps to a Perfect Child or five steps to a wonderful marriage. I know about those topics but I couldn’t write about them. I have been working on a book but when an editor looked at my proposal, the comment was, “There are lots of books on that subject. So, we wouldn’t be interested.” I haven’t worked on the book since. I’ve tried to find books on that topic but I don’t know if I can transform myself into someone with the voice of those authors.

    How do I determine all the titles written for the group I want to write for and how can I determine how well they are selling? I’m fine with doing research. I just don’t know how to go about these particular matters.

    You mentioned blog posts that resonate as well. Perhaps some time you could do a podcast on trying to figure out what people whom you’d like to read your blog want to hear? Thanks.

    • Thomas Umstattd, Jr.
      Thomas Umstattd, Jr. January 21, 2019 at 12:15 pm #

      @Ken Great question! Measuring resonance is where having a blog really comes in handy. You can test different topics and get immediate statistics on what is working and what is not working.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. 002 - How to Find Your Courage as an Author - Christian Publishing Show - November 13, 2018

    […] few weeks ago I wrote a blog post about what I am looking for in authors I want to represent as an agent. Today I would like to talk about one of the things I am looking for: […]

  2. 003 - How to Find Your Hustle - Christian Publishing Show - November 19, 2018

    […] This episode is based on a series about what I am looking for in authors to represent as an agent. […]

  3. Thomas Umstattd, Jr. Joins The Steve Laube Agency - - December 10, 2018

    […] You can find a description of the kinds of proposals Thomas is looking for here. […]

  4. 008 - Resonance and Why Platform is Not Important Like You Think - Christian Publishing Show - January 14, 2019

    […] This is the third and final episode in a series about What I am Looking for as an Agent. […]

  5. 008 – Resonance and Why Platform is Not Important Like You Think - - January 14, 2019

    […] This is the third and final episode in a series about What I am Looking for as an Agent. […]

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