When Les Stobbe started buying books for a bookstore in 1955, the hottest title was Mere Christianity. When he served as editor of Christian Bookseller Magazine, the hottest title was The Living Letters¸ which he had evaluated for Ken Taylor when selling floor manager of Moody Bookstore. When he was appointed editorial director of Moody Press, the hottest book was The Late Great Planet Earth. While at Moody, their hottest selling title was Crying Wind—and on its heels was Daktar/Diplomat in Bangladesh. Except for C.S. Lewis, they were all first book authors.
Among the many authors he helped get started in his 21 years in book publishing are Erwin Lutzer, Dennis Rainey, John Maxwell, David Jeremiah, Zola Levitt, Marie Chapian, Gayle Roper, Marian Wells, Kathy Collard Miller, Marilyn Willett Heavilin, Jan Frank, Marita Littauer. Several of today’s editorial directors in Christian publishing got their initial training in book editing under Les’s leadership.
Along the way Les wrote or co-wrote 14 books for people like Jim Talley, Dale Evans Rogers, Ken Nair, and other nationally known leaders. As editor in chief of the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild he wrote most of the lessons on writing non-fiction articles and books for the distance learning courses “What’s Your Story” and the Journeyman Course.
Small wonder that when 16 years ago Les was convinced by authors to begin serving as literary agent, he committed himself to helping first book authors get published, writers like Ann Tatlock, Ethel Herr, Frank Simon, Elizabeth Hoekstra, Mark Mynheir, Austin Boyd, Michael Barry, Louise Gouge, Diane Nichols, Jerry Rassamni, Mary Connealy, Will Davis Jr., Jon Nappa, Cheri Cowell, Michele Howe, Debbie Alsdorf, Mike Dellosso, Tom Pawlik, Sandra Robbins, Erica Vetsch, Don Hoesel, Sonja Haskins, Mags Storey, Sue Duffy, Lisa Hall, Dr. Donald Hall, Dave Earley, Dr. Robert Lesslie, and Trish Berg, to name just a few.
At this point most of Les’s publishable proposals are coming via recommendation from clients, well-known authors, and editors, often at Christian writers’ conferences. While he is convinced that outstanding writing by fresh voices ought to be a priority consideration when a manuscript is evaluated, he is well aware that breakthrough writers typically already have a platform. Thus he is looking for those fresh voices in both adult fiction and non-fiction who above all know how to tell a story with truth embedded in it—and in non-fiction already have a significant platform.