There is no one-size-fits-all publishing path for our clients. Steve Murphy is proof of that. When he took our course, we thought his book—never-before-published memoirs of George W. Quimby, a Civil War scout—had tremendous potential. Even more so after we discovered Steve’s connection to the material (he discovered the diary in 1989 in the attic of his father-in-law, a hoarder).
With admirable perseverance, he found the right home for it, and The Perfect Scout: A Soldier’s Memoir of the Great March to the Sea and the Campaign of the Carolinas was published in January 2018 by the University of Alabama Press. He talked with us about his journey to publication.
Would you share some insights you gathered during your journey to publication?
I conducted a web search to identify potential agents or publishers. I received over 50 rejections, and worked with one agent, who pitched it for 1.5 years to no avail. During the process, I took a Business of Books seminar on how to create a winning proposal, and then hired Jen and Kerry to conduct a 2-on-1 proposal review. They suggested retitling the project to The Perfect Scout. Working with Jen and Kerry was instrumental to my efforts.
Did you seek out professional services or other help along the way?
I engaged some legal services for assistance with copyright issues, contracts and MOU, in addition to taking a Business of Books class.
What surprised you during the publishing process?
The slow pace of the publishing industry! It was seven years from my first serious attempt—and four years after acceptance of the book by University of Alabama Press—to publication.
What’s been the best aspect about getting a book deal?
Actually getting this story to publication.
Did you find any creative avenues for marketing and publicity?
I joined the Puget Sound Civil War Roundtable four years ago. It’s a great place for spreading the word about the book.
What one piece of advice would you offer to burgeoning authors?
Persevere, be patient, never give up.