I am still doggedly trying to find a home for Sundowner of the Skies. I shot it off to BIG (not SMALL) publishers without being fully prepared - I had not done my research. Not surprisingly, I got rejections, but I also got great feedback. Most publishers do not even reply. After submitting, you often get an email to say they have received it and if you don’t hear back from us with 3 months, say, this means we are not interested. And I must have had rocks in my head to tell other publishers I had got rejected by XXX but hey, look at their feedback! As if they want to know why it was rejected. I should have been trying to ‘sell’ my book…

Regardless, here is some of the feedback:

I was quite torn about your manuscript, I have to admit, as I thought it was very elegantly written, but the feeling of our Sales team here when I discussed it with them was that it was going to be quite hard to get viable sales figures on this project, as Oscar is just not well known enough. I’m so disappointed, but I can’t argue with them … Perhaps a smaller press (who don’t have the same pressure on economies of scale) might be interested.  

I have read the work and thoroughly enjoyed it. It is indeed very well written – congratulations. I must say I was most saddened by the ending, but I feel readers will really appreciate your honest and brave account of your family’s story and your own personal struggle…Sadly, we’ve seen too many excellent biographies written by sons/daughters fail to fire in our market, mostly because it’s a very small one, dominated by celebrity authors and subjects.

I reached a point when I realised I wasn’t doing something right or maybe the work was not as good as these publishers were saying. So I contacted a manuscript publishing service and found an angel. Sean said, ‘Do you have endorsements?’ No. ‘Do you have a Market Position Statement?’ No. etc. etc.

I began collecting endorsements (they are on the Sundowner page - how lucky am I!?). And put together a Market Position Statement. I also decided to get the MS edited again - structural and grammatical. The editor Sean found for me was a word whisperer. She did magic. 

NOW if I had bothered to get a copy of The Australian Writer’s Marketplace 2015/16 and read Jane Friedman’s article HOW TO WRITE A NON-FICTION PROPOSAL, then perhaps Sundowner would have already found a home. Friedman points out that if you are told by a big publisher the market is too small for your project, then you should try a small publisher because they have a lower threshold of sales to meet. (Big publishers often need to sell as many as 20,000 copies in the first year to justify publication.)

Mary Garden