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October 2012

Reporter: Valerie Comer

Valerie ComerValerie Comer’s fiction debuts in the novella collection Rainbow’s End (Barbour, 2012). Her life on a Canadian farm provides the seed for stories of contemporary inspirational romance. Like many of her characters, Valerie and her family grow much of their own food and are active in local foods advocacy. Visit her online.

Presenter: Steve Laube

Steve LaubeLaube, a literary agent and president of The Steve Laube Agency, has been in the book industry more than 31 years. He then spent over a decade with Bethany House Publishers and was named the Editor of the Year in 2002. He later became an agent and has represented more than 700 new books and was named Agent of the Year by ACFW.

Presenter: Tamela Hancock Murray

Tamela Hancock MurrayMurray has been a literary agent for more than 12 years and is part of The Steve Laube Agency. A successful novelist in her own right, she is privileged to represent many top Christian authors. Learn more about Murray at as well as

Workshop 18: What Your Traditional Publisher Does For You

Printing PressSeasoned agents Steve Laube and Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency tackled the question of why authors would give all their money to big, bad, ugly publishers when they can do everything themselves in this day and age of self-publishing in their ACFW Conference workshop What Your Traditional Publisher Does For You. They divulged the sometimes hidden, yet extensive, benefits of traditional publication.

  1. Curation narrows the field.
  2. “You want to write the best book you can because of the curation process,” Murray said. Anyone can epublish a book, but the quality isn’t always there. Readers aren’t as worried about poor writing if they see a traditional publisher’s name on a book because they know someone made a decision. Certainly some traditionally published books may suffer similar problems, but talent tends to rise to the top.
  3. Editing is included in traditional publishing.
  4. At a minimum, each manuscript passes by a substantive editor, a copyeditor, and 2-3 proofreaders. Freelance editors may charge several thousand dollars and are worth every dime.
  5. Market tracking requires inside information.
  6. “Editors look to us as scouts, looking at what will be hot in two years,” Laube said. “If you’re asking what the trend is now, you’re too late.” Agents are constantly looking at movie acquisitions and magazine editorials for which trends are beginning to rise.
  7. Design of a book’s exterior and interior is costly.
  8. Publishing houses often pay for the creation of multiple cover layouts before finalizing a decision, an expense most self-publishers cannot afford. When designers believe it’s warranted, they may choose lavish specialty treatments, such as decaled edges or gilded covers. It takes time and expertise to create files for every epub platform, choosing fonts that work well in each. Yes, authors can learn to do these things, Murray noted, but because you don’t self-publish every day, it takes a long time to get good at it. A publisher may spend $60,000-$75,000 post-acquisition to bring a book to market. No wonder they curate!
  9. Business infrastructure services (subsidiary and foreign rights, accounting, and legal) are a huge benefit.
  10. Publishing professionals have relationships with each other, marketers, and distributers. They study metadata for sites like Amazon and carefully choose the BISEC, the back cover code that informs placement in bookstores.
  11. Marketing creates impressions about the book itself and is not synonymous with publicity.
  12. Publishers take time and effort to guide authors in website creation and social media. If you don’t succeed, they don’t either. “You feel publicity,” Laube said. “You don’t feel marketing. We feel they could do better because we don’t see what they’re already doing.” Murray added, “When they put serious money behind your book, you’ll see.”

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