Steve Laube: Eclectic Experience in the Marketplace of Books

by Elizabeth Griffin

Steve Laube is well-known by regular attendees at the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal. A literary agent and president of the Steve Laube Agency, he’s been in the book industry for over 37 years, first as a bookstore manager, then with Bethany House Publishers, and now as an agent. He and his agency have represented more than 1,500 new books. In addition, he is the publisher at Enclave Publishing and serves as president and owner of The Christian Writers Institute and author of The Christian Writers Market Guide and Book Proposal Tips and Tricks.

Of all the roles he plays, Steve loves being an agent most because it involves all the fun of publishing with none of the meetings. Like a parent, he loves working with all of the authors he represents equally and says they are each wonderful in and of themselves. Each project moves along at its own pace, with some taking months to develop a strong proposal and others only days.

Steve will be looking for the following at this year’s Renewal:

  • Fiction – women’s fiction, romance, thriller, suspense, romantic suspense, literary, military, historical (all eras), contemporary, science-fiction, fantasy, supernatural, YA … in other words, every genre published in the industry.
  • Nonfiction – Christian Living, biography, apologetics, theology, Bible study, reference, health, finance, self-help, psychology, grief, suffering, marriage, family, women’s, men’s, philosophy, church life, devotional, inspirational, social issues, politics, parenting, music, and art.

According to Steve, “The subjects are vast and the opportunities endless.”

On a more personal level, Steve has been married for 36 years. He and his wife have three married daughters and one grandson. He lives in Arizona, but enjoys visiting Seattle because his 93-year-old mother lives here. He reads about 100 novels a year for relaxation after work and teaches the Bible in an expositional style each Sunday.

Steve will teach these workshops at the Renewal:

Landmines in Your Book Contract – A look at some of the more egregious things that can be found in your book contract. Contracts are a legally binding agreement. What is signed must be followed. Unfortunately, there are certain clauses that can bite authors if they are unaware of their implications. Using real examples from real contracts, this class will take a close look at clauses being placed in front of authors today. This is a rather advanced topic. Be prepared to wear your lawyer hat!

The Complete Book Process: From Idea to Print – What is the route a book takes while in-house?  How the writer can help or hinder? Discover what happens along the entire process inside a publishing company. From book proposal evaluation to pub board decision making to editorial responsibilities to cover design issues and more, this information is applicable whether one is working with a traditional publisher or is publishing independently.

Writing the Nonfiction Book – There are common elements in nonfiction books that contribute to their success. This class will explore them and help apply the elements to your work. Issues of craft, presentation of ideas, and connecting with the reader will be discussed.

Check out all the workshops being offered this year.To request an appointment with Steve, register soon for the Renewal.

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In addition to writing and editing a monthly lifestyle newspaper for 10 years, Elizabeth Griffin elizabeth_griffin2has published more than 500 articles in newspapers, anthologies, and magazines, along with the books Fragile X, Fragile Hope: Finding Joy in Parenting a Child with Special Needs and Margot’s Story. Elizabeth’s favorite subject matter is true stories of redemption. She loves to speak truth into the lives of others and has been a Bible teacher for 16 years. Her recent adventures include directing communications for an international missions group and public relations for Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission, and blogging at Follow the Dots.

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Do You Have Perfect Pitch?

NCWA welcomes Karen Ball from The Steve Laube Agency!

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While I was at a writer’s retreat awhile back, I was struck, as I always am when in the company of writers, by the power of the right word used in the right way. On the first day of the conference, I had group meetings with the writers.

This is where a group of writers come in, sit at a table together, and each takes a turn pitching his/her book to me to see if I would be interested in representing the author. I had six groups, each lasting a half hour, made up of anywhere from 5-7 people each. So folks had a total of 3-5 minutes to engage me in their project.

It’s the writer’s conference version of speed dating!

The cool thing is, a good number of those who came had such a strong understanding of their project and of the market that they were able to hook me in the first few words. Now that’s doing your homework! For example, one woman told me right off the bat her book was romantic suspense, what the main story line was (in a sentence), and what the conflict and spiritual takeaway were.

That took about 45 seconds of her four minutes, so from there I asked questions about the story and focus and she was able to relax and just talk. I ended up asking her to send me the proposal. Don’t know if we’ll pursue it–the writing is what tips the scales, of course.

But I was impressed with her well chosen descriptions. And if I’m considering two manuscripts and all things are basically equal, I’ll always go with an author who is, first and foremost, teachable, and then able to communicate the heart and soul of her story quickly and effectively.

Summer and fall boast a lot of wonderful writers’ conferences to attend. So you writers need to know how to capture an editor’s or author’s attention in a matter of seconds. Yes, SECONDS, not minutes. So spend some time thinking about the following:

Do You Have Perfect Pitch?

*What’s the main theme (or themes) addressed in my story?

*For fiction, what’s the nonfiction hook I could use to stir interest in media outlets (e.g. radio, where they generally don’t have a clue what to do with novelists)?

*What genre/category is my book? Are there any best-sellers or movies that I can compare my book to that will position it quickly for the agent/editor? For example, “My book is Die Hard meets Left Behind.”

*What’s the spiritual takeaway?

Finally, can I describe my book in:

* one sentence

*25 words

*50 words

*200 words

(At different stages in the process of seeking publication, you’ll need to be able to do all of the above!)

That’s enough to get you started. So hey, go for it! Put together a masterful pitch, one or two sentences, that will position your book in any editor’s or agent’s mind. And if you want to try your pitch out here, feel free. I’ll let you know what I think.

TweetGroup pitching to an editor is the writer’s conference version of speed dating!@KarenBall

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This post first appeared June 13, 2012 on The Steve Laube Agency blog. Used by kind permission.

Karen Ball has been blessed to use her love of words and story during nearly 30 years in publishing. Currently the owner/operator of Karen Ball Publishing Services, LLC, and a literary agent with the Steve Laube Agency, Karen built and led fiction lines for Tyndale, Multnomah, Zondervan, and B&H Publishing Group.

She’s discovered and worked with some of the top novelists in publishing, including Francine Rivers, Karen Kingsbury, Brandilyn Collins, Angela Hunt, Ginny Yttrup, & Robin Jones Gunn. In addition, Karen is a best-selling, award-winning novelist and a popular speaker and teacher. She lives in Oregon with her husband, father, and three four-legged, furry kids. Visit Karen on her website or at The Steve Laube Agency.