One day when he was in first grade, Chip hurried home and announced to his mother, "When I grow up, I’m going to be a book guy!" And he has been a book guy—from high school literary magazine to bestselling books, from conference speaker to an unbeatable track record of representing renowned writers. Creating MacGregor Literary was a natural step for a book guy.
Chip has a comprehensive knowledge of the industry—from book development to writing, acquisition to production, marketing to sales. He has secured more than 1,000 book deals for authors with all of the major publishers in both CBA and ABA, including Random House, Ballantine, Crown, Doubleday, Broadway, Simon & Schuster, Pocket Books, Fireside, Warner Book Group, HarperCollins, Avon, Viking, Penguin, Berkley, Jossey-Bass, Zondervan, Thomas Nelson, Integrity, Baker, Tyndale, Broadman & Holman, Worthy, Crossway, Multnomah, Revell, Harvest House, Waterbrook, NavPress, Cook, and Howard, among others. As an editor, he discovered Phillip Gulley, worked with bestselling authors such as Kay Arthur and Neil Anderson, and helped craft books for some of the best names in publishing, including CBA luminaries Chuck Swindoll, Bruce Wilkinson, and David Jeremiah. Chip has written more than two-dozen titles, including two books that hit #1 on the bestseller lists in their category. He has also been the collaborative writer on books with people such as Howard Hendricks, Joe Stowell, Andre Kole, and Bruce Waltke. During his tenure as a publisher at Time Warner, he helped the company grow into one of the world’s biggest providers of religious books to the general market, acquiring some of the best known Christian fiction and nonfiction authors on the planet: Greg Laurie, Robin Jones Gunn, Sigmund Brouwer, Tim Clinton . . . the list goes on and on.
This longtime agent has represented Brennan Manning, Michelle McKinney Hammond, Jill and Stuart Briscoe, Alistair McGrath, Neta Jackson, Donna Partow, the MOPS organization, and Hearts at Home while working at another agency. His work with Lisa Beamer and Ken Abraham led to Let’s Roll hitting #1 on the New York Times bestseller list, eventually becoming the bestselling nonfiction book that year.
A popular writer’s conference speaker, Chip has presented workshops at more than 100 locations, spoken at colleges and universities, and is frequently invited to speak to writers groups around the country on the topics of writing and publishing. Chip earned his BS with High Honors at Portland State University, earned an MA with Honors from Biola University, and did his doctoral work at the University of Oregon in Policy and Management, focusing on organizational development. He later did a post-doc semester at Oxford University. Chip been written up in numerous writing and publishing related magazines and newsletters.
Chip’s greatest desire is to help authors create great books that make a difference in the world. That’s what every book guy wants most.
If you are interested in having Chip speak at your event, please be sure to contact him.
News from Chip: There has been a bunch of news about publishing lately, so I wanted to help the authors I represent sort through some of it.
First, Borders is out of business. That's a blow to authors, since Borders was an author-friendly company and generated sales in cities where there was no other bookstore. It's tough to see fewer brick-and-mortar stores, since they remain the best place for book-lovers to SHOP for books. (We all BUY books online at Amazon, but most of us prefer to SHOP for books at an actual store. The online browsing experience leaves something to be desired -- there's just nothing like wandering the aisles of a bookstore and discovering authors and titles.) Books-a-Million has leased the space of several Borders stores in the South and Southeast, a handful of independents are moving into the old Borders spaces in some eastern cities, and most of the airport stores are being replaced by other booksellers. However, there are going to be a couple hundred fewer bookstores now. Sad to see. People have frequently asked me what the problem with Borders was -- this was simply a case of bad management. Once Borders was bought by K-Mart, then run by a guy from the grocery business, they stopped being a well-run BOOK company.
Second, the Google settlement is dead. For all the talk we heard (and, um, for all the talk your agent shared with you) about the coming digital book network, the whole thing died of its own weight. The courts have basically agreed that Google was in the midst of a power-grab, and that US copyright laws are adequate to protect author rights. So you can expect Google to backtrack, try and settle the dozens of copyright infringement lawsuits, and eventually chart a new course for making tens of thousands of out-of-print books available digitally. It's still a good idea... we just have to find a way to do it that doesn't trample on an author's rights.
Third, BookStats is now offering much better information on the industry. I realize you might not get terribly excited about all the business news in publishing, but I want the authors I represent to at least feel they've got the picture of what's going on in the industry. So listen: the book business continues to do okay. The overall numbers are a bit flat, but there is big growth with e-books, and some new, smaller companies are doing very well. Book sales in 2010 totaled $12.59 Billion -- slightly less than in 2009, but up significantly over 2008. Of those sales, 1.35 Billion were religious books -- and that's a jump of 11.1%. That is significant, because in a flat market, you look for growth areas. And what is growing in publishing? Digital novels and Christian books, particularly Christian fiction.
Fourth, e-books are the undisputed future. The sale of e-books totaled $838 Million in 2010... which means it basically doubled from 2009 to 2010. Wow. And adult fiction in e-books outsold adult nonfiction by a three-to-one ratio. To repeat: wow. Right now the growth of e-books is amazing, and the growth of e-novels is the biggest part of that. In fact, 13.4% of ALL adult fiction sales were e-books (whereas e-books were only 3.9% of all nonfiction sales). This means you're going to see more ebook companies cropping up, some e-books doing very well in the market, and some authors having success strictly in the digital world. It also means you're probably going to buy a Nook or a Kindle in the next year.
Fifth, it's clear that all the major publishers are hiring fewer people, doing less editing, and relying on the author more than ever to market their books. One of the discouraging things right now is watching the shrinking editorial staffs at the major publishers. They're all cutting costs and trying to get by on less. And that, in turn, puts more pressure on the author to write well, talk through ideas, get some editorial help, and have a plan for helping to market their own titles.
Sixth, all of this information points to the need for an author to have plan. I'm very serious about that. The fact that publishers are putting more expectations on authors means that to succeed, an author needs to have a clear sense of "what do I want to do." It's more important than ever that authors understand branding, know how to help promote themselves and their books, and (at least if they intend to make a living at writing, or have a career in books) have a clear plan for what "success" is. So again, let's talk about your future. One of my best skills is career planning, and I don't want anyone I represent to feel that I short-changed them in that area.
Seventh (and be aware that this can sound self-serving), I think authors are going to need a good agent even more in the future. There has been a lot of internet talk about the declining need for agents, since authors can now do their own deals online via e-books. But with all the changes happening in the industry, having some guidance and direction is more necessary than ever (IMHO). But remember, there's no "right" author/agent relationship. Some authors want to talk over book ideas. Others want me to read and respond to sample chapters. Some want help talking over marketing ideas. Most really need me to read contracts closely and review royalty statements. And still others simply want to talk through their career map for the next two years of writing. All of those are things I do on a regular basis.
And as a client of Chip's, I can personally testify that he does all of these things VERY well. Thank you, Chip, for sharing a bit of your knowledge and information with our readers!