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The following article is written by Katherine Murphy, author of Awake O Sleeper: How I Rediscovered God Through Breast Cancer. Katherine’s book is wonderful and I highly recommend it! You can purchase Katherine’s book, Awake O Sleeper, at,, or at a bookstore near you.






by Katherine Murphy


Looking for a publisher for your work may be the toughest job you’ll encounter. However, authors who don’t give up, who keep sending out their proposals and manuscripts, who look in the face of rejections and say, “this is an opportunity to submit elsewhere” are the ones who reap the rewards. Perseverance is key.

With this in mind, there are a number of questions you can ask yourself and steps you can take to continue refining this process while you await a publisher’s contract offer.


  1. Is my “skin” thick enough? This is essential. Many authors stop submitting after a few rejections. They assume their work is not good enough. You can’t afford to take rejections personally. More often than not, when a publisher says “no” to you, it is not a reflection upon your work but rather a mismatch of book and publishing house. They may have recently published a book on the same topic or perhaps they no longer publish that particular genre. There can be a number of reasons.


  1. Are my query letter and book proposal knockout quality? If they’re not, now is the time to fix them. Get some feedback from other writers, from marketing people / friends.  Make sure your idea or hook is unique or a new variation on one that is tried and true. Most often, the “entry” to an editor is your query letter. Make sure it is top notch.


  1. Are my manuscript / sample chapters in the best shape possible? Do they read well? Are they interesting? When you receive an invitation to submit, you want your work to be ready. Connecting with other writers and groups, both in your community and online can be invaluable. Get early readers and feedback. Sometimes editors will offer suggestions with rejections. Consider these and make changes if appropriate. If you are able, hire someone to edit your work professionally.


  1. Am I sending to the right publisher? You need to know who your audience is and what genre/category you book falls into. Study Writer’s Market to make sure the houses you are sending to publish your kind of book. Make lists of these houses and when a rejection comes in, have your query and/or proposal package (depending upon what the house requests) ready to send right out again. Don’t let it sit on a shelf. I followed Susan Page’s advice in Shortest Distance Between You and a Published Book for submitting in order to maximize this process.


  1. Along the same lines ask yourself, do I know the marketplace? Keep current. Your local library should carry Publishers Weekly and national newspapers, like USA Today and The New York Times. Watch for what kinds of books are being published and by whom. Check your local bookstores every couple of months to see if there are any new titles in the section where your book ultimately belongs. Who is publishing them? Do agents handle them? If so, they may be interested in representing your book.


  1. Am I willing to promote my book? Publishers and editors love authors who will do this and offer to in their proposals. I received my contract based largely on my proposal’s Marketing and Promotion Section. Additionally while I was submitting to publishers I began joining groups related to my book topic and investigating other places for future promotion. Look for magazines to submit articles in an effort to bring attention to you as a published author. If you can sell a book excerpt, even better.


  1. Am I already networking and setting the ground for future public relations? I can’t stress this enough. You will be amazed at the contacts you make by getting “out there” and by making yourself known at workshops and conferences and venues where local authors and writers visit. Look for events where agents and editors are present, and attend those.


  1. How knowledgeable am I about the publishing process? Look for classes offered by published authors or editors in your area. Many books outline the publishing route from A –Z. They are full of tips and advice.

Here are some good ones:

1001 Ways To Market Your Book by John Kremer

Jump Start Your Book Sales Marilyn & Tom Ross

The Publishing Game series by Fern Reiss

Guerilla Marketing for Writers by Jay Conrad Levinson, et al


Above all else, remember remain positive. Don’t give up. Be proactive. If your book is a good one, well written, and with audience appeal, your persistence will pay off.


© 2004 Katherine Murphy


Check out Katherine’s endorsement of June’s Book Proposal Services:


“With June’s help and direction, my book sold on the merits of my proposal alone. One agent even told me that my proposal was the best she’d ever seen.”


Katherine Murphy

Author of Awake O Sleeper



Article provided by June Cotner, publishing consultant and author of the bestselling Graces and Dog Blessings and 24 other books. PO Box 2765, Poulsbo, WA 98370


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