Posts Tagged ‘Christian publishing’


Friday Five: Steve Laube

Steve Laube is respected, longtime veteran of the Christian publishing industry, having served as a bookstore owner, an acquisitions editor for Bethany House, and in his current role, as a literary agent. Few professionals understand books and publishing like Steve Laube. On a personal level, my agent, Tamela Hancock Murray serves with the Steve Laube Agency. I have enjoyed my interactions with Steve and especially enjoy reading his observations on books and publishing. I highly recommend you subscribe to his blog

Steve was kind enough to stop by and chat for today’s Friday Five:

How did you get started in Christian Publishing? Have you always had a love of books or was it something that came later in life? 

I began as a part time shelf-duster at a Christian bookstore a few blocks from college campus. That later turned into full time, then management, etc. In 1992 I became an acquisitions editor for Bethany House and worked with them for 11 years. In 2003 I chose to become an agent. Or as some would say, “You fell into the Dark Side.”

I’ve always been a voracious reader. I still remember a required class on reading we had to take in Jr. High. We were to read 8 books (or something like that number) during the course and write a report. I read over 100.

You’ve been on almost all “sides” of Christian publishing, from bookstore owner to publisher to agent. Do you think this gives you a unique perspective on the industry? 

It does bring a different view. The bookstore experience puts me in the mindset of the consumer who is looking for a book on a topic or for entertainment.

The publisher side allows me to understand the economics of publishing as well as the entire production process.

As an agent I get to experience the inside story of all publisher, both their trials and their triumphs. I also am privileged to work with an extremely diverse group of writers. You might call it eclectic.

Traditional publishers are increasingly under attack as an outdated relic of the past. But you’ve argued that they’re role is still necessary as curators of content. Why? 

It goes without saying that the ultimate curator, or chooser, of content is the end user, the reader. I’ve never meant to say that the agent or the publisher knows best. But at the same time, as a consumer, I want to only buy what’s best or what is well done. And choosing at random from an Internet search is a recipe for disappointment. Instead if I see that a book is published by a particular publisher I can assume, in most cases, that the project has been vetted at a number of levels before it got my attention as a consumer.

The world is divided between those who have seen and read a pile of unsolicited proposals and those who haven’t. It is astounding the amount of material we are sent that is simply not ready. Too often the writer sends it to us without learning the craft first. But there is nothing to prevent that same person to turn it into an e-book next week and it is added to the plethora of titles available to the public.

What do you see as the future for Christian publishing? 

A loaded question!

I am a reasonable optimist. I see a bright future. God is raising up a new generation of thinkers and writers who have a breathtaking grasp on scriptures and culture and how we are to live with the Gospel at the center of our lives. This is the future. The creators of great content. And publishers of all types are desperate for that brilliant group of writers.

Meanwhile the industry itself is carefully weighing the impact of technology (e-books, social media, etc) on publishing as a business. It is not an easy task.

The irony is that there have been many shifts in the publishing industry in the last 31 years I’ve been working in it. Each shift is perceived as a major one. And the e-book revolution is no different.

If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring Christian author, what would that be?

Prepare yourself. Work at the craft. Make your writing and insight so astounding that it brings and exclamatory gasp from the Agent when he reads it for the first time. I guarantee that each time I’ve had that “gasp” that project was sold to a publisher very quickly.

Go to our web site and see the guidelines. Investigate our list of resources (books, web sites, writers conferences, book coaches, etc.) on the site as well.


Friday Five: Michael Hyatt


Michael Hyatt, Chairman, Thomas Nelson PublishersToday it’s a privilege to welcome Michael Hyatt to the Friday Five. Michael Hyatt is Chairman of Thomas Nelson, the seventh largest trade book publishing company in the world. A respected leader in the Christian publishing community, he is a sought-after speaker on the topics of leadership, time management, and the integration of faith and technology. He has served as a literary agent, CEO, and business owner. His blog, Intentional Leadership, is one of the most highly trafficked blogs on the Internet.

Today Mike answers my questions about the future of Christian publishing, the essentials of good leadership, and his use of technology.

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Friday Five Interview: Ginger Kolbaba

Image of Ginger looking up and smiling.

After a couple of years of trying to get my work published and getting rejected (mainly because my writing wasn’t nearly good enough), in the Summer of 2004, I got a big break. Ginger Kolbaba, editor of Marriage Partnership, a magazine once published by Christianity Today, read an email query and said she liked my idea for a section for newlyweds titled “Work it Out.” I wrote a piece that shared our conflict over TV viewing. She accepted it and I felt like a million bucks. That piece helped launch my writing ministry. Well, Ginger and I have since become good friends. And today, she is still working for Christianity Today as editor of Christianity Today’s new online magazine, and manager of discipleship and women’s resources for Christianity Today. In Christian publishing for 14 years, she is former editor of Today’s Christian Woman and Marriage Partnership magazines. An accomplished book author, Ginger has written or contributed to more than 16 books, including her most recent novel series, Secrets from Lulu’s Café, which include Desperate Pastors’ Wives, A Matter of Wife and Death, and Katt’s in the Cradle.

Ginger also teaches and speaks across the country. She’s appeared on national venues such as CNN’s Nancy Grace and Court TV’s Catherine Crier Live, as well as Family Life Radio and Moody Radio’s Midday Connection.

She is a pastor’s kid (both her parents are ordained ministers) and is a summa cum laude graduate of Anderson University (Anderson, Indiana).

Ginger was kind enough to stop by for today’s Friday Five:

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Friday Five Interview – Terry Whalin

If you’re a writer, editor, book publisher, agent or anyone associated with publishing, it’s likely you know my friend, Terry Whalin.W. Terry Whalin understands both sides of the editorial desk–as an editor and a writer. He worked as an editor for Decision and In Other Words. His magazine articles have appeared in more than 50 publications including Writer’s DigestThe Writer and Christianity Today. He is the creator and webmaster for

Terry has written more than 60 nonfiction books and his latest is Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams, Insider Secrets to SKYROCKET Your Success. (WTW Press). Another recent book is Running On Ice: The Overcoming Faith of Vonetta Flowers (New Hope Publishers). See more about his writing and purchase books at: For more than 12 years Terry was an ECPA Gold Medallion judge in the fiction category. He has written extensively about Christian fiction and reviewed numerous fiction books in publications such as Faithful and BookPage. For over five years, Terry was an acquisitions editor in the book divisions of David C. Cook and Howard Books.A former literary agent, Terry is now a publisher at Intermedia Publishing Group. On a regular basis, he writes about the Writing Life. Terry and his wife, Christine, live in Scottsdale, Arizona.

On a personal note, when I have always looked and read Terry’s informative blog for help sharpen my writing skills. And when I got my first book contract, Terry was available to give me some good and personal advice. Today he was kind enough to stop by and chat with me:

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Download Sample Chapter of iFaith

New Hope Publishers graciously allowed me to post a sample first chapter of my latest release, iFaith, Connecting to God in the 21st Century. This first chapter includes the table of contents, introduction, and first chapter. Hopefully it will give you an idea of the purpose of the book and whet your appetite for more:

iFaith Sample


Friday Five Interview – Renee Johnson

Renee Johnson.jpgSo today, I’m honored to have my friend Renee Johnson stop by. Unless you’re under a rock, you’ll know she’s the world-famous, “devotional diva.” Seriously Renee has been writing devos for 20-somethings for quite some time now. They are downloaded, tweeted, read by email, and forwarded by thousands of young people around the world.

Lately she put them into a really cool book Faithbook of Jesus, a unique devotional for twenty-somethings that combines biblical wisdom, relevant humor, and a chance to connect on her online platform. Renee’s mission in life is to “spur others forward” (Hebrews 10:24), using the lessons learned from her own trials to encourage others in their walk with God. Recently Renee helped launch a non-profit ministry that helps launch other speakers, pastor’s, and faith-based ministries.

1) So you’re the “devotional diva” – how did you begin writing devos?
I started READING daily devotionals when I was 15 years old. I made a vow to God that year that I would read through the entire Bible because I was sick and desperate for healing. Thirteen years later I’m still in the Word every day and have gone through dozens of devotional books. I started WRITING devotionals in the early 00’s and been blogging them since 04. My mentor saw that I had over 400 devotionals saved and nicknamed me the “Devotional Diva” and it just…stuck!

2) You worked with a lot of Christian speakers and entertainers in your position with Outreach Events. Did this “inside” status change your thinking on the evangelical world?
I had the best day job ever. Even the President of the company, Scott Evans, told me to my face! I told him at the time, “you can’t have my job!” Oops. But, seriously-I loved the position I had and the influence to help serve pastors, ministry leaders while matching them with the appropriate speaker and comedian. During those two years, God grew me and stretched me BEYOND my wildest dreams. I am still processing the “inside” status because the events I booked are still happening. It was awesome to hear reports of those who came to Christ and which events went well…and my FAVORITE part was making sure the church had the right speaker. God used this fire and passion to help me move on to become the speaker and author He wants me to be.

3) You speak quite a bit to thirty-something’s in the church. What, in your view, are people in our generation looking for from the church and are they finding it?
I think we’re looking for truth. Keeping it real. It’s hard to follow someone who isn’t “leading.” My generation (I’m 28) is all about asking questions and not being afraid to take risks-even if it means losing everything. Well, I lost everything in my life (four times), and this is one of the questions that I am actually currently working on. It’s a work in progress my friend!

4) As a writer, I’m always intrigued by each book story. How did Faithbook of Jesus get from your head to the bestselling aisle at Barnes and Noble? (next to Pete Wilson, I might add)
I want to ad that I placed my book on the bestselling aisle. I did find my book next to Pete Wilson at B&N and good ole’ Pete twittered me back and told me to front load it. So I did!

I took all my hundreds of devotionals saved, re-worked them, added a nationwide survey of over 300+ 20-somethings while carefully matching them with each devo, creating an online platform where my readers could interact with each devo…and phew all in four months. That was the hardest four months of my life. But, backing up a bit-my agent and publisher, NavPress, found me via Twitter. All good things come to those who tweet!

5) You’ve launched yourself into this new venture called Throw Mountains. What is the purpose of this new ministry endeavor?

Throw Mountains is a pro-church speaking tour for the 20/30-somethings and the churches who love them. My generation is RUNNING away from church, but not away from God. My goal is to help create the conversations with those who feel disillusioned with Christianity (as Anne Rice said), and point them to Christ.


Friday Five Interview: Jennifer Kennedy Dean

When my first book was published, I remember attending my very first ICRS (then it was call CBA Convention). It was in Indianapolis and I had a radio interview scheduled. I was as nervous as a cat. I had just driven 5 hours from Chicago area, got a speeding ticket, and was a bit overwhelmed by all the publishers and books and agents and media.

I was met at CBA by a fellow New Hope author named, Jennifer Kennedy Dean. We waited together outside the recording room where the interview was to be held. She leaned over and said, “Hey, you’ll do just fine. Just relax, take a deep breath, and talk about your book.” I never forgot that. I’m thinking the interview was less than memorable, but that experience gave me insight into Jennifer’s life and ministry. Since then, she’s become a great friend.

Jennifer Kennedy Dean is a multi-published author, most famous for her book, Live a Praying Life. She is the executive director of The Praying Life Foundation. She is the author of numerous books, studies, and magazine articles specializing in prayer and spiritual formation. Her book, Heart’s Cry, has been named National Day of Prayer’s signature book.  Her book, Live a Praying Life, has been called a flagship work on prayer.

Jennifer is in demand as a speaker and has spoken in such venues as The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove and Focus on the Family.

She is a board member for Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, a member of America’s National Prayer Committee, a board member and broadcaster with WebTV4Women and a member of National Professional Women Association.

1) How did you get your start in writing, publishing, and a speaking ministry?

I started teaching a Sunday School class when I was student at Baylor From that, I had invitations to speak at different college events, and things grew from there. After I had been speaking a few years, I had honed my message to topics related to prayer. In today’s vocabulary, I guess you would say that prayer became my brand. At some point, a publisher approached me about writing what I was speaking. Writing and speaking grew hand-in-hand from then on.

2) You travel around the country speaking to big and small groups on a variety of Bible subjects, but you’re main focus is prayer. What led you to dive so deeply into prayer?

I consider my Bible study, Live a Praying Life, to be my life’s purpose. That’s how important it is to me. It is the culmination of almost 40 years of searching. I’m trying to think back and trace the beginnings of that consuming passion, and I find it interesting to remember that, even as a child, I was always experimenting with prayer. By experimenting, I mean putting it to the test. Trying it out. Trying to figure out its intricacies and what made it work. So maybe it is the culmination of more than forty years of searching. Maybe 57 years of searching. Decades ago, the Lord introduced me to a praying life. When that phrase came to my mind, it changed the way I thought about prayer and opened the door to a whole new concept.

My mother had a great interest in prayer, and always had prayer groups and prayer partners. We had front-row seats for all her prayer adventures, I’m sure I was infected by her. When I started defining my own relationship with Christ, prayer was its center.

God created me to be a left-brain thinker. I need logic. Part A has to fit into Part B. An argument has to hold together from beginning to end. I can’t take things at face value, no matter how hard I try. I need to know how things work. Isn’t it funny that such a person would be called to a passion for prayer? On the surface, prayer seems to be the most illogical proposition ever tendered.

I’m delighted to be in relationship with a God whose invitation is, “Come, let us reason together.” As I probed and questioned and searched, I found that God welcomed my questions and could teach me prayer in a way that satisfied both my heart and my mind. To my relief, I found that faith does not cancel out understanding. In fact, faith produces understanding.

Live a Praying Life is the record of my search. Of course, the search continues. I will never understand everything about prayer, but every day I can understand more. The more I understand, the more I am compelled to put it in practice. Prayer is the conduit through which the power of God is released into the circumstances of earth. That’s what motivates me.

3) You talk about the difference between a “prayer life” and a “praying life.” What do you mean by that?

A praying life is a life lived in an open and receptive attitude toward God.  An undercurrent of prayer is always flowing in the life of a believer… sometime articulated in sentences, sometimes not. When you begin to live a praying life, you leave behind the idea that prayer is a group of words sandwiched between “Dear God” and “Amen.” You are always walking in the flow of God’s power and provision; always engaged in an interchange between heaven and earth.

4) You’re latest project is Life Unhindered. You write about walking in freedom. Do you think many Christians live unnecessarily shackled?

Because the Scripture has so much exhortation and instruction on living in freedom, it seems that this is a topic that requires continual growth and reinforcement. We are so accustomed to the things that hold us captive that we often consider them irreversible. We might not even see them as holding us back. But the Scripture strips away the pretense and exposes shackles for what they are. And gives us the keys to throw off every hindrance.

5) What advice would you give to an aspiring Christian writer or speaker?

Everything starts small. Do faithfully what the Lord has put in front of you to do. Live the message you speak from the platform. Trust that God will place you where He wants you, obedience by obedience.


Friday Five Interview – Cynthia Ruchti

photo by Fat Tuna Photography

Today I have the good fortune of chatting with my friend, Cynthia Ruchti, president of American Christian Fiction Writers, 2,000 member strong group of authors, editors, and agents who work collectively

to produce inspirational fiction. She is also

the author of They Almost Always Come Home, a delightful novel about a marriage that needed a near-fatal accident to be revived from the brink.

In addition to writing, Cynthia is also the producer for a radio show, Heartbeat of the Home

In 2007, she was the recipient of the ACFW Member Service Award. In 2008, Cynthia won second place for Women’s Fiction in ACFW’s prestigious Genesis Contest. Cynthia is the editor of the ministry’s Backyard Friends magazine. Cynthia spends her days diving into words, worship, and wonder and celebrating 37 years of marriage, three grown children, and five exceptional grandchildren.

1) Even though the economy is in the tank and people are writing the demise of the publishing industry almost daily, Christian fiction is more popular than ever. Why is that?

I’m sure there are as many opinions on that topic as there are books on my to-be-read pile. Storytelling has always been the most popular means of communicating and connecting people, no matter what the culture. I think Americans experienced a period of time when we took ourselves and technology so seriously that we too often abdicated the joy of thinking, wondering, considering, imagining. But the human heart listens best when something is presented in story form and it loses its elasticity if it isn’t fed a story from time to time. Readers find hope hidden in the pages of Christian fiction. The characters’ internal struggles assure readers they’re not alone. Imagination is given the reins again and the freedom to gallop.
2) I hear people dis Christian fiction a lot, but I wonder if they read it, because I’m reading some amazing stuff by a wide variety of authors. What do you say to that?

One of my answers will sound very philosophical, but I believe we’re living in an era when xdissing” or ranting about something is seen as every person’s right. It feeds some carnal urge when people find something to look down on. Sometimes Christian fiction is the target, but I wholeheartedly agree that those who complain the loudest about it are usually the ones least familiar with what’s being produced today for the Christian fiction market. The last few years have seen the publishing world tackle some tangled subjects and authors are hard at work creating meaningful, significant, well-written novels that engage a wide range of reader tastes–entertainment, inspiration, healing, insight…

3) I want to talk about your book, They Almost Always Come Home. I read it while I was out of town and I loved the book. The writing is so tight and it really walks the reader through a marital struggle. What inspired you to write this book?

In my role as writer/producer for The Heartbeat of the Home radio broadcast, and as a mom, grammie, friend, sister, and member of a close-knit church community, I’ve heard stories of marriages that fell apart and those that stayed glued no matter what crisis they encountered. I’ve had conversations with women who have a hard time liking the man they love, whether for a day, a season, or a lifetime.

In 1999, my husband almost left me. He didn’t intend to, but he almost died in the Canadian wilderness that drew him to many a canoe adventure over the years. He was rescued in time. But after we both recovered from the trauma, my writer brain began to wonder what a woman might do if her husband didn’t return at all. And what if she wasn’t sure she wanted him to? What would make her heart so full of pain that she couldn’t stomach the thought of his returning, but couldn’t bear the idea that he might? What if she had no answers and felt as lost as she feared he might be? Those what ifs led to They Almost Always Come Home. I wrote a good deal of the book from imagination, but had to dig deep to write the rest of it authentically and in a way I hoped readers would find both comforting and challenging.

4) Every published author goes through a long journey before they get published. Tell me about yours and what you learned.

Novel-writing can tax a writer’s energies and endurance. But I persevered through the traditional long waiting periods and influx of rejections. Determined to learn as much as I could about the craft of fiction and the publishing industry itself, I joined American Christian Fiction Writers in 2002 and began to see evidence that I really was growing as a writer. Prayer, persistence, and a patience I didn’t feel naturally led me to the day in 2008 when a manuscript of mine was a finalist in ACFW’s Genesis contest for unpublished authors. Within a month of receiving that award, I’d signed with an agent and a publishing house. The book released eighteen months later as They Almost Always Come Home. It surprised me to learn that I would enjoy each leg of the journey, no matter how difficult the terrain.

5) If you could say one thing to that writer who has a manuscript, believes in their novel, and yet keeps getting rejected, what would that be?

I’ve developed a standard answer for that. Work as hard as you can and wait as hard as you can. There’s always more to learn and always a new challenge to our ability to and penchant (or lack of it) for waiting. But the Bible notes many of the Lord’s favorite people were entrusted with difficult assignments and long waits. Those who remained faithful to Him and to what He asked them to do partnered with God in something spectacular. Abraham, Noah, Joseph the son of Jacob, Gideon, Jesus.

Waiting with grace is as important as working with gusto for a writer. Which reminds me, I’d better get back to both! Thank you for the stimulating interview, Daniel.