Steve Laube – Unexpected Friend

October 1, 2011
by Michael Lee Joshua
Michael Lee Joshua and Steve Laube

Michael Lee Joshua and Steve Laube

Unexpected

Written by Michael Lee Joshua

When I attended the conference, I had set my sights on learning some techniques – maybe even some things about the publishing industry itself.

What I did not expect was to be touched.

The speaker was a big guy and – in some ways – quite intimidating. He was an agent, after all. One of those people who I had been trying to get interested in my writing…but this particular one… Well – I sent him a query letter last fall. He promptly (like in 24 hours, it seemed) responded that he was not interested.

Now, right in front of me, stood one of the untouchables. The unreachable agent.

Funny, he seemed almost human.

Then he spoke. The more he talked and shared anecdotes, stories of his own triumphs and failures, the more my heart warmed to his message. Then, he talked about waiting on God. God’s timing. God’s desire for us. God’s teaching us through our trials and tribulations. How necessary it is that we feel the pain in order to appreciate His goodness.

I did not expect this. To have my heart touched by an agent?

I wanted to touch him, you know – get him to take on representation of my manuscript – not really respond to him. Writing is a selfish endeavor, on many levels. For whatever reason, writers are sure that what we have to say will reach into someone’s soul and elicit a response. Not that I am that important, but I feel God moving within my words, stirring my heart and I want to share that with others. No, I must share that with others. Take others where God has taken me with the words. In Christian writing, it’s not about the money (although a bestseller would be great) – it’s about the message.

But, that’s not what was happening here. The dream squasher, the one that could help me if he wanted to, the one with the keys to the publishing kingdom, the one I wanted to use as a step up – here he was – touching me. My heart was laid bare. The thoughts that I had not put into words, he knew them. He knew the pain of waiting. The pain of not knowing what the future holds – being on the mountaintop and then dropped down as if over a cliff.

When he was done and he opened the floor for questions and answers, I found I had little to say. Nothing to add.

Suddenly my message was not so important.

My heart was touched and I needed to respond within myself.

I did learn some things about publishing and about agents. Mostly I learned some things about God.

Touched. Unexpected. Needed.

Post script:

I wrote this piece over a year ago, following the very first writers conference I had ever attended. I had been writing for less than a year and discovered during this conference just how much I did not know as I heard the presenters.

I felt compelled to share this piece with Steve after I wrote it. Agents know we listen to them, but they are not often fully aware that they reach into our souls.

Affirmation is a good thing.

We should tell them more often.

I have seen this agent at the past two (2010 and 2011) ACFW conferences. We visit, as time allows – in short spurts, stopping when our paths cross, nodding as we pass in the hallways, at lunch when he hosts a table and in sessions when he teaches. An acknowledgment, a nod, a pat on the back, a welcoming or parting handshake – these all count as conversation in manspeak. We throw verbal barbs at one another, when the opportunity arises, as we men are prone to do.

I know his heart and I believe he knows mine. A not-so-casual – casual friendship.

He may never be my agent, that is in God’s hands. But I pay close attention to each hint, piece of advice and straightforward response from him. I ask questions because I want a straight answer – he has always provided that. Honest without apology. Firm without cruelty. For that, I am grateful.

Until today, there were only a handful of people who knew that this piece was written about Steve Laube.

He has my utmost respect.

I am honored to count him among my friends.

Steve Laube, thank you. You are a blessing to me.

7 Comments

  • Ronie says:

    What you’ve written about here is exactly the reason I fought hard–through THREE rejections by Steve–until he was willing to represent me. It took 4 years to get that “stamp of approval,” but I knew his integrity, his character, and his good sense of humor were attributes I wanted in the agent who represented me. LOVED reading your anecdote, Michael! I believe completely he is worth his weight in gold (and if he holds me to that, I’ll just say it was gold foil chocolates…ahem).

  • MLJoshua says:

    Gold foil chocolates. Sounds like a heck of a deal to me!

  • Steve is a gracious and God-filled man. I enjoyed reading this and knowing it was about Steve.

  • It was nice to read this piece that you and Steve talked about over that lunch we shared during conference! I love how conferences bring epiphanies. 🙂

  • I, too, received a rejection from Steve. I had so hoped to have him represent me, especially since he had moved to the Phoenix area where I live. His rejection was kind, not very detailed, but he did point out a blaring mistake – the name of a character who was also the name of a well-known character on TV. I was grateful for that. However, he blasted my One Sheet at a conference, a One Sheet other agents and editors praised me for. Agh!

    Great memories of Steve and helps us see those agents as humans.

    Maybe someday …

    Bonnie

  • This is great, Michael! You’ve learned to be mentored, without him being an “official” mentor to you. One of the best things we can do as writers is soak up every opportunity to learn from someone, even if they’re not our “friend”-friend, even if they’re not our agent, even if they never read a word we’ve written. 🙂

  • Ginny Aiken says:

    Terrific piece about a man I respect. Steve’s faith, sense of humor, integrity, and wise guidance make him a great ally on the way through the maze of publishing. I’m glad he’s my agent.