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A Conversation with David Van Diest

"You ought to write a book!"

Ever heard those words? In this exclusive interview David Van Diest, of the world renowned Van Diest Literary Agency will tell you whether or not you really should.

David Van Diest - Literary Agent

David, do we really need more books?

A colleague once asked me that question. My answer is both yes and no. In my opinion, 80-90% of the new books coming out really shouldn't be published -they're about things that have already been said before. Nevertheless, there are still messages that need to see the light of day. Specifically, messages which are relevant to this generation.

Why is it so hard to get a book published?

It's next to impossible for an unknown author to get their material looked at by publishers. They get hundreds of unsolicited queries, proposals and manuscripts sent to them every month. Just sorting through the pile is labor intensive and cost-prohibitive for publishing houses. This is why most publishers only accept materials from agents. A good agent knows the mindset and thinking of the publishing house. They know the ins and outs, marketing trends, and the pitfalls to avoid wasting a both the author and Publishers time.

It's nearly as difficult to get a good agent. Why is that?

A good literary agent serves as the author's advocate. But they also perform the filtering or screening that in years past was done by the Publishing Houses. It takes up a good amount of time. Some agencies have started to charge a "reading fee", but I don't like it. A lot of authors who should be published may be deterred because of it.

How did the Van Diest Literary Agency get to be known as the leading or best literary agency in the Christian book publishing industry?

With 45 years of Christian publishing experience we know the business. Being involved in every aspect of publishing from acquisitions to sales/marketing, we've done it. At every stage of a books journey through the publishing life, from the writing and editorial to the sales a distribution, we've dealt with the potential challenges and pitfalls. Our experience helps ensure a positive publishing experience for the author and Publishing House.

I started in publishing in 1988 as a telephone sales representative and quickly became manager of the Special Markets division. I accepted a position with a small Christian publisher as vice president of sales and marketing overseeing everything from marketing/sales to acquisitions and editorial. Later I focused my attention on marketing, working for one of the largest Christian publishers.

When a good friend of mine showed me a fantastic book that he self-published, it crystallized a new mission for me. He asked me to be his agent. For years it had been a desire of mine to start a literary agency, but I looked him in the eye and said "I'm not an agent." He eventually convinced me to send the book to some of the publishers I knew well. Almost instantly his book set off a bidding war, and resulted in this previously rejected author getting a three-book deal!

While not officially on staff, John Van Diest serves as an advisor to the agency. John became the Publisher of Multnomah Press in 1972. During his time as publisher, he published books with Chuck Swindoll, Max Lucado, Tim LaHaye, Joni Eareckson Tada, James Dobson, and many other notable authors. Most recently he worked for Multnomah Publishers and is presently working for Tyndale Publishing as an acquisitions editor.

Does the Van Diest Literary Agency accept new authors?

Most of our clients have been by referral (Either somebody recommends us to the author or we're recommended to them). It's one of our goals to change that. We are actively looking to discover and bring to market a few new authors with fresh perspectives on timely subjects.

These are our guidelines:

  • Send us a 50 word summary of the book idea.
  • An outline of the chapters
  • An author bio (a one page description of why you have the background to write the book)
  • Your contact information

Contact Us :

Give us about a month to get it touch with you.

Lastly David, this phrase is said all the time "You should write a book." Really, how can anyone know if they should?

Do you have a passion for it?

Would you write it anyway-even if it never gets published? If you can answer yes to both questions, then write it.

Thank you David for taking the time out of your busy schedule to speak with us at




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Excerpt of Prayers for the Working Mom used by permission.
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