Friday, July 20, 2012

Celebrating: Persistence, Margaret Brownley

What do you do when a book you believe in has been rejected by just about every publisher listed in Writers Market and then some?  I was faced with that dilemma more than 10 years ago when the book I wrote following the loss of my oldest son had garnered enough rejections to wallpaper a house.

No one wanted to read a grief book, I was told.  Too depressing.   Some publishers rejected the book because I didn’t have a platform and I had a feeling they weren’t talking about mile-high shoes.

“What’s a platform?” I asked my then-agent.

He explained that it meant I didn’t have a radio or TV show. Nor was I a personality, which meant my chances of appearing on Oprah’s show were zilch.  He went on to explain that someone like…say…Paris Hilton, who at the time was riding high, had name recognition.  She had media attention. She had in essence what amounted to a very large audience and could probably sell a book on raising earthworms if she so desired.  She was also blond with a size zero waist, but my agent kindly refrained from mentioning that. 

And so the rejections kept coming. 

“You don’t have a doctorate degree,” one editor wrote. “Who wants to read a grief book by a ‘non-expert?’”  In other words, what could a grieving mother possibly know about grief? 

One editor asked if I would be willing to make a few little changes. “Instead of writing about losing a loved one, would you be willing to turn it into a book about divorce?” she asked.  

“But I don’t know anything about divorce,” I protested.  
To her credit, she didn’t hold that against me, but she also didn’t buy what I was selling.

And so the rejections kept coming.

I finally gave up, not because I’d lost faith in the book but because the only publishers I hadn’t queried required authors to fit a certain mold; I either had to be gay, black or Jewish.

My agent finally suggested I self-pub and that’s what I did. Publishing a book is one thing, but distribution was plain hard work.  Some bookstores refuse to carry indie books, but I eventually sold 5,500 copies, mostly by word of mouth.  Call it persistence or just mule-headed stubbornness but I never gave up hope of selling the book to a traditional publisher who could better get it into the hands of those who needed it.  I still didn’t have a platform, but now I had somewhat of a sales record.

The book finally sold to the publisher of my choice: Thomas Nelson.  So this month I’m celebrating the publication of my book: Grieving God’s Way; the Lasting Path to Hope and Healing.  

It’s a good thing Oprah’s gone on to other things because I still don’t have blond hair or a size zero waist.
Persistence will only get you so far. 

About Margaret:
Thrills, mystery, suspense, romance: Margaret penned it all. Nothing wrong with this—except Margaret happened to be writing for the church newsletter. After making the church picnic read like a Grisham novel, her former pastor took her aside and said, "Maybe God's calling you to write fiction."
So that’s what Margaret did. She’s now a New York Times bestselling author and a Romance Writers of America RITA finalist with more than 25 novels to her credit.  The first book in her Brides of Last Chance Ranch series “Dawn Comes Early” is available now and will be followed by Waiting for Morning.—not bad for someone who flunked 8th grade English.  Just don’t ask her to diagram a sentence.


  1. What a wonderful tale of poignancy and perserverance,, Margaret. I so appreciate you sharing with us all. May happy memories of your boy always grant you comfort.

  2. What Tanya said. xoxo

    Thanks for being here today, Margaret.

  3. Margaret, thank you so much for this book. God bless you and comfort you.

  4. Margaret, I loved this book. You said lots of things in there that I needed to hear and to embrace. Grief goes on no matter how much time has passed. It just gets a little easier is all. But back to the book. The scripture and heartfelt words touched me. I'm so glad you finally got the book published. I do think there is a market for it. May God richly bless you.

  5. Margaret, I wish I had had this book when my stepson was killed. I don't believe you have to be an "educated expert" to write a book on grief. A mother who has lost a child IS an "expert" on it! I'm so glad that you just kept on and managed to get it out there--I'm not brave enough to try indie publishing. And I think anyone who can sit down and write a book about losing a child is a hero. That had to be the hardest book you ever wrote.

  6. Thank you Cheryl for letting me share my story. It really was the hardest book I ever wrote. If the book helps one person, the pain and tears shed during the writing will be but a small price to pay.

  7. Wonderful Story, Margaret! And what a success story to go up against such odds -- and for the book of your heart. Many Congratulations!

  8. Sadly, Margaret, I am thinking how many people will need your book today, after the deaths of so many in Aurora, Colorado.

  9. Too bad Oprah's gone on...I'd rather see you on her show than many of her other guests. Thanks for sharing your struggles. I am glad your story is being published/sold.

    coolestmommy2000 at gmail dot com

  10. Margaret,

    Have you read any of Paula D'Arcy's books? Most of her books deal in some way with the grief she experienced when her husband and daugther were killed by a drunk driver many years ago and how she forgave the drunk driver.