The Brothers Path is STILL not Going Anywhere

Just got a big fat “NO” on a book Bagwyn Books wanted to publish last year — The Brothers Path. Last fall, I had to make a decision between two publishers and I chose the one that was closer (Denver) and promised an earlier publication date (this year). Of course, THAT publisher (Bygone Era Books, ha ha) went out of business. I then contacted the other publisher who had wanted the manuscript and had to go through the complete process again only to get a “No” just now.


Dear Martha Kennedy,

Thank you for letting us read your manuscript. Our current workload prohibits us from taking on all but a select few new projects and we are, therefore, unable to extend an offer. We accept new clients based solely upon the current needs and interests of this agency and we simply didn’t see a good match. Given that the publishing industry is admittedly subjective, no doubt another publisher will feel differently.

Thank you for thinking of Bagwyn Books and for letting us read your work. We wish you the best of luck in your future marketing efforts.


No need for names…


Disgusted and discouraged and disappointed. Changed the name of my blog. I like the resonance of it. 🙂

For those who may not know, I’m very familiar with the self-publishing option. Martin of Gfenn and Savior ended up self-published. The fourteen-year saga leading to the publishing of Martin of Gfenn? Every writer should learn it, but it’s a hard lesson. Martin of Gfenn has won awards in the meantime, and I’ve sold some books. If you “google” me you’ll find all kinds of stuff about me and my books — and I have an author page on Amazon.

The difficulty of being a self-published author is promotion. All I need to be promoted BY Amazon is ten reviews, but most readers don’t think of reviewing a book they’ve read. It does take a little effort and I know not everyone is comfortable writing. Truth be told, I don’t even mind negative reviews — some negative comments by readers of the Kindle edition woke me up to the fact that the format wasn’t working. That HELPS me. I also don’t expect every reader to love my book. In fact, when I read reviews on Amazon of books or films, I mistrust a book or film that has all 5 star raptures. I wonder, “Who paid you?” Still and all, I’m extremely grateful for the reviews people have posted for the books on Amazon. Reviews are the ONE thing that helps sell a self-published book.

Self-published books have a stigma (a fair stigma, IMO) and that is that a self-published book is probably going to be crap. It’s true that ANYONE can self-publish and that means that every person who “has a book in them” can hammer out some prose (or poetry) and print it, typos, bad grammar, weak story and all. For this reason, conventional publishers don’t consider self-published books to be anything other than a liability. There are few writers who actually broke into conventional publishing with a self-published novel. Romances and mysteries have made that leap many times. I don’t write them. I write old-school historical fiction set in a foreign country that looks at serious subjects.  

My goal of having a book conventionally published is based on all this knowledge. I believe if I succeeded in selling a manuscript, the other books might fly away on its coat-tails. But this particular situation is just incredibly disappointing since this publisher WANTED this VERY book last year and now does not. I can’t help but feel some of it is, “You had your chance last year, sweet-cheeks. Ni-ner, ni-ner, ni-ner.” Publishers (and agents) have the power in this market. Writers are, literally, a dime a dozen.

14 thoughts on “The Brothers Path is STILL not Going Anywhere

  1. Martha, why don’t you hook up with Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing program. Publish the book as an e-book at no cost to yourself and promote it yourself. It might take off, and if it does, a number of publishers will very likely perk up their interest.

    The good thing about the Kindle books is that they are so easy and inexpensive to purchase that a lot more people will take a chance on them even when they don’t know the author. Several of my books that sold at an “okay” rate in print versions started selling much better in e-book versions from Amazon’s Kindle Store. And you can’t beat the royalties. With mainstream print publishers, the maximum royalty percentage for new authors is 10%. So a book that sells for $20.00 pays you 2.00. But an e-book version that sells for 3.98 through Amazon’s Kindle Store pays you $2.78.

    Of course to get the 70% royalties, you have to contract with Amazon to give them exclusive rights to your digital version. But since they are the biggest market in the world currently, what do you have to lose?

    When you get into Amazon’s KDP system, you have a choice to do everything yourself or pay for help. But the process is really quite simple, and you won’t have any problem doing it yourself. So for no investment of money, you could be getting your name as an author out there far and wide and making money at the same time. Then while you’re enjoying success, let the print publishers scurry to catch up with you.

    • And, of course, Amazon also offers the Create Space program in which you can put your own books online for sale in print version as well. It’s a little trickier to do the print version technology solo — but it can be done.

    • Thanks Sandra. I know all about that. I’ve self-published two novels, Martin of Gfenn and Savior. You can read about them here:

      Both of them are on KDP and once in a while I make a little something.

      This is not new to me at all. There’s a lot more to promoting a historical novel than just publishing it and that’s why I have continued to pursue traditional publishing. Martin of Gfenn has won awards. It was awarded “Editor’s Choice” from the Historical Novel Society Indie Books and the IndieBRAG Medallion. These are both pretty prestigious awards for self-published books, but there is still a stigma that a self-published book is crap. There’s good reason for that because many are.

      Thanks for the moral support and encouragement. I appreciate it a lot!

      • That’s great! Having just met you, I didn’t know that, but I’m really happy to hear about that success. Don’t give up on the new one.

        And I agree it’s true that many self-published novels are crap, but then so are many of the novels published by the premier publishing houses. But self publishing has taken a whole new place in the publishing world in the last decade. Some of the best-selling authors on the scene today published at least their first book themselves, and it really paid off. And some authors who are published by big houses are starting to try out self-publishing now because they can have more control of their work. And the stack of success stories grows thicker. But as you say, probably the genre makes a difference as well. I can see where historical novels might offer a bigger challenge in some ways. Anyway, I feel sure you’ll make the right connection. You’re a trouper. And thanks for the link. I’ll go over and read about your books.

      • I think my biggest problem in publishing is WHAT my novels are about. In spite of the settings and themes they’re NOT inaccessible, but human beings like what they know, especially when they’re reading for entertainment and relaxation. I know my books would do better in German but… Anyway, I’m designing a cover and we’ll see what I decide to do. Anyway, designing a book is fun. Last fall when the publisher (the one who went out of business) was designing the cover and interior of the book I was really kind of frustrated. What he came up with was ugly and said NOTHING, but he was the publisher and presumably knew the market…NOT.

      • I know exactly what you mean. My novels are all inspirational, Christian-based stories, so I’ve worked with two different small Christian publishers. The small companies seem to give authors a whole lot more say in design.

        And you’re so right. It is fun! And just knowing, every time we write or create a cover, that we’ve created something that never before existed is extremely satisfying even if nobody else seems interested. I keep telling my creative writing students that their focus, first and foremost, needs to be on their own enjoyment of the craft and the satisfaction and power they feel when they realize they have truly created an entity that never before existed — and would have had no chance of existing — if it were not for their efforts.

  2. Hang in there. I look at it like I look at guitar players; for everyone you hear on the radio there’s 1,000 out there just as good if not better. F@$% ’em in the neck.

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