What I Am Looking For (Dan Balow)

(Updated 1/10/2021)

Since my primary editor connections are with publishers of Christian-themed books, I need to start there, but can expand to the general market in certain circumstances.

I am looking for authors of nonfiction works for adults but will consider nonfiction for younger groups once in a while. I will also expand to consider compelling content for children.

I do not represent authors of fiction.

For personal enjoyment and illumination, I read certain Christian living books, Bible studies, and reference materials, but also biographies, history, and business books. I know the market reads wider than that, not to mention that the majority of buyers are not boomer males like me. Most people in publishing are stretched beyond their personal preferences anyway.

Since agents need to view the world through the eyes of publishers, I will ask questions of potential author clients that are consistent with publisher requirements. With that in mind, other than compelling writing, here are three other things I am looking for in authors:

  • Credibility: You need to be perceived as qualified to write on the topic of your book. Theology books are written by respected theologians, apologetic books by respected apologists, nutrition and exercise books by nutritionists and exercise gurus, etc. Even if you are an excellent writer, you need to have the credentials accompanying whatever you might create.
  • Focus: Very few authors can navigate a wide variety of categories successfully; and if they do, they are usually successful in one before trying the other. Just because you can write a variety of books doesn’t mean you should. Regardless, you need to start somewhere.
  • Marketing: Great writing still counts, but you won’t get far without a great start to personal marketing. Lack of an author platform will be a problem down the line, so get started now if you haven’t already.

Finally, should you be published by a traditional publisher, the first book you wrote may not be the first one published. Agent and author agendas are not always publisher agendas at a particular point in time. Timing is a significant issue.

Just like you, we agents with The Steve Laube Agency exercise our gifts, dealing with disappointment and learning to trust God more and more each day. I pray God grants me the wisdom to make wise decisions and serve authors well.

18 Responses to What I Am Looking For (Dan Balow)

  1. Dan Balow January 13, 2015 at 8:49 am #

    I think it is important for authors to write a variety for their own creative development. But when it comes to pitching an agent, we need to pin down something more narrow. Very, very few authors can successfully navigate between categories for traditional publishers.

  2. Dan Balow January 13, 2015 at 8:52 am #

    There’s a number of posts on the subject if you search this site. However, I will be doing a series of three posts on February 3, 10 and 17 on the subject and offering a downloadable document on Author Platform at the conclusion.

    So, keep reading and hopefully the February posts I offer will be helpful.

    • Stacey Zink January 13, 2015 at 12:06 pm #

      I look forward to reading these posts. Thanks, Dan.

  3. Steve Laube December 2, 2016 at 2:51 pm #

    Someone got through our spam filters. They have all been removed now.
    We apologize for the mess.

  4. Cynthia Christmas January 20, 2021 at 5:10 am #

    Great article but How does a writer start a platform? Are all platforms the same? I’m a Christian Knitter so my platform would be different than another writer?

    • Dan Balow January 20, 2021 at 7:13 am #

      Thanks for the note Cynthia. Platforms always start from where you are. You don’t need to be different than you are in person. Christian Knitting is very specific, which makes it simpler than most in some ways. You won’t necessarily know what to do, but it is pretty clear what NOT to do! Keeping watching this blog for material about platform. You can search the blog for the term and come up with a lot of good information.

  5. Barbara January 20, 2021 at 6:38 am #

    It’s so nice to see you back at the Steve Laube Agency! I and my fourteen (at the time)-year-old son met you shortly after you first joined the agency–at the Indianapolis ACFW conference at a dinner table. This was his first writing conference and he met you and James Scott Bell at the table. I was sad when you moved on from the agency and am so glad to see you here again! Welcome back!

  6. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser January 20, 2021 at 6:40 am #

    There’s a platform I did lately make,
    it is both low and flat,
    and is in fact a bending brake
    to help me build a slat
    for an aeroplane now gone extinct,
    but worth a second look;
    might its resurrection bring
    meaning for a book?
    In this work I’ve come to learn
    of its builders born of old,
    and find that maybe they did earn
    that their story now be told,
    like Pirsig’s (but in Christian sense)
    ‘Zen and ‘Cycle Maintenance’.

    A ‘slat’ is a high-lift device fastened to the leading (front) edge of a wing; it may be fixed or extendable (on this aeroplane, they’re fixed), and behind it is an opening that allows high-pressure air to fromfrom the undersurface (where the air pressure’s higher) to the top of the wing, effectively ‘speeding up’ the air there, and through the Bernoulli effect (where air moves faster there’s less pressure) increasing the wing’s lift. Flying’s all about differential air pressure; higher on the bottom, less on top, and the wing’s pushed up (like your hand was, when as a kid you stuck it out a car window, before your Mom said, “Now you get that arm in befoe it get torn off!”).

    Every modern airliner has moveable slats, extended for takeoff and landing; sit where you can see the leading edge of the wing and you can see them in action. They go forward and own, to create the slot and increase the wing’s camber (curvature) which also enhances lift. (There are also flaps on the back of the wing, which perform a similar lift-enhancing function).

    The aeroplane to which I referred in the sonnet above (if anyone’s still reading, here) is a Stinson HW-75B, the ‘grand-daddy of the famout L5 series of liason/spotter aircrat used in WW2 and Korea. It’ about the size and shape of a Piper Cub, but aerodynamically a lot more refined.

    • Peggy January 20, 2021 at 8:18 pm #


      Thanks for the info. I didn’t know there was so much physics involved. As long as I’m learning, I’m still young! 🙂

    • Judith Robl January 25, 2021 at 2:30 pm #

      Just one more reason why I love you, brother Andrew. Thank you for the sonnet and the physics/history lesson. Still praying.

  7. Kristen Joy Wilks January 20, 2021 at 6:48 am #

    Welcome back, Dan! It will be so good to hear from you on the blog again. I wish you well in this venture.

  8. murray Grossan M.D. January 20, 2021 at 9:25 am #

    Most fiction features a protagonist who undergoes change: he is a poor farm boy, no ambition. But when his girlfriend is stolen, he changes, becomes a knight, and rescues the fair maiden.
    In Burka Bride, there are many changes: first, pretty college freshman, then a fire leaving her disfigures. Then a face transplant with perfect features. Then she melts the transplant and is disfigured again.
    Then she undergoes slow amounts of surgery, helped by pressure chamber. Finally she is a fair looking girl. The title of my story is Burka Bride: she marries wearing the Burka that hides her disfigurement.

  9. Murray Grossan January 20, 2021 at 9:38 am #

    With current concerns regarding women bearing Burka and head gear that might conceal weapons, I feel that the Burka Bride shows a different light on this attire, that would interest current readers.

  10. Ann L Coker January 20, 2021 at 3:57 pm #

    Dan, welcome back as one of Steve Laube’s good agents. I attended a session led by you at Taylor University Writers Conference.

    • Bob January 25, 2021 at 3:20 pm #

      Yes, I did also and am pleased and thankful he’s back. His presentation at the Taylor conference was very helpful.

  11. Peggy Rychwa/Sheryl Marcoux January 20, 2021 at 6:42 pm #

    Thank you. Yes, I was wondering what you were looking for.

  12. Judith Robl January 25, 2021 at 2:34 pm #

    Dan, I am thrilled that you are back with the agency. I’m trying to work on platform. While I do write fiction (debatable), I would really like to publish some Christian living type non-fiction. I need all the help I can get. No platform, yet. But I’m working on it.

  13. Dennis L Oberholtzer February 2, 2021 at 3:15 pm #

    Thanks for the tips. I guess I know more about the writing industry than I care too. I do a lot of research. I wrote a paper for the heating industry in 1993, my first published work. My book Precious Treasures is now on Amazon. You say you need credentials. I know that is my problem. But I also know more than most because of the enormous amount of research I do. I could use an experienced person to publish what I do, but so often they change what is written. Any help would be good.

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