In his long history in Christian publishing, Steve Laube has played many roles: bookstore manager (11 years with Berean Christian Stores), editorial director (Bethany House Publishing, also for 11 years), and literary agent (he established his Steve Laube Agency in 2004). Now Laube can add publisher to that resume, with his January 2014 acquisition of Marcher Lord Press, which he renamed Enclave Publishing.
“My experience at Bethany House is invaluable now that I’m re-entering the publishing side of the equation,” says Laube. “Workflow management in editorial and production was a hallmark of efficiency at Bethany House. The attention to detail and the intentionality of cover design are models I hope to emulate as a small press.”
With a successful literary agency to oversee and a publishing company to develop and grow, Laube has to wear different hats to focus on the unique needs of each business. “I deliberately separated the agency from the publishing company,” he says. “They are separate entities and are run independently of each other.” That means Laube has to “carve out specific time for the publishing side of things so that I am not tossed to and fro by various issues.”
When he dons his publisher hat, Laube uses his editorial experience to focus on the details in the process. “An agent rarely gets involved with the production side of the equation other than big-picture sorts of things like reacting to a cover design or navigating editorial conflicts, if they occur,” he says. “Attention to detail is crucial for a publisher to create a product well. Everything from deciding on the font to ensuring that metadata is accurate—that’s the currency that makes a book a great product. But to the reader, it is all invisible, until a mistake is made and discovered.”
With readers’ needs at the top of his mind, both as an agent and as a publisher, Laube says, those needs haven’t changed much over the past few decades. “Cultural changes have created some new nonfiction topics to address—technology, sexuality, etc.,” he says. “But the issues and stresses of every day remain quite similar. The Christian publishing industry is responding faster and better than ever before to the marketplace. It used to feel like [the CBA market] was a couple years behind and was reactive instead of proactive. That is no longer the case.”
Enclave Publishing—which will publish science fiction and fantasy with a Christian worldview—releases five books this fall. But Laube—who agents both fiction and nonfiction authors—says he maintains an affinity for both. “Fiction continues to be a place where creativity and variety have endless capacity, in all genres,” he notes. “Nonfiction finds great new voices who address the concerns and struggles of every believer walking through the maze of our culture.” Summarizing the ideal contributions of each, Laube says, “Novelists see the world with great breadth and creativity. Nonfiction authors target specific issues and wrestle with them with grace and insight.”