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Rx from the Book Doctor: Never Give Up!

September 15, 2014

By Bobbie Christmas

b. christmasWe writers often hear discouraging information about rejection and frustration. Only once in a while do we hear a success story, and even more seldom does that story happen to someone close by. I’m here to change that situation for you.

Someone who has been a longstanding member of FWA has had a boom year. She sold two books to one of the country’s preeminent independent publishers of mystery, thriller, and suspense titles, and then she sold a third novel to a highly respected traditional publisher of fantasy novels. I point with pride to Susan Klaus, a client of mine who had three books launched within this past year. The first thriller, Secretariat Reborn (Oceanside Publishing), came out in 2013 and not only met with great reviews but also won the Florida Authors and Publishers Association Silver President’s Award for best Florida book, beating books in every genre. Two weeks after Oceanside signed a two-book deal with her thrillers, Tor snapped up her adult fantasy, Flight of the Golden Harpy, which it released in 2014. Again, the reviews were terrific. Most recently, on August 19, Oceanview released Shark Fin Soup, her second book in the Christian Roberts thriller series, and once again, great early reviews are pouring in. It’s also a finalist in the Royal Palm Literary Awards in the thriller category.

How did Susan achieve so much success overnight? Overnight? Ha! Susan has been my client for about seven years. Before she hired me, she had written two complete novels that I know about, but I’ll bet she had written more. After she used her time and talents to create the stories in the first place, she and I labored over her books, improving them with each iteration. She refined, revised, and submitted her books to many agents, publishers, and competitions. After her adult fantasy won a Royal Palm Literary Award for Best Unpublished Sci-Fi in 2010, she was able to land an agent, who eventually sold her book to Tor. It’s only a coincidence that two respectable publishers discovered her talents within months of each other, but the results are almost mind boggling.

Susan Klaus will be attending the FWA conference in October, and although she is not one of the speakers, I hope everyone reading this blog will seek her out and ask her about her path to success. Even if you don’t talk to her, be sure you pick up all three of her books at the conference bookstore or on Amazon.

As a book editor, I read manuscripts day in and day out, but rarely do I spot one that sparkles with Susan’s strong ability to fabricate and slowly unravel gripping stories, no matter what genre she picks. From my viewpoint, the secret to her success is that she never gave up. She created powerful, complex stories, and she worked on them and reworked them until they were worthy of being published. She took the next steps and submitted her manuscripts to agents and publishers, and she never gave up her quest. Now she spends a large portion of her time promoting her books and traveling to book launches, signings, and conferences. She has the perfect formula for success: passion, commitment, determination, and a willingness to seek advice and revise and improve her stories.

If you have those skills, you won’t give up either. Keep writing, keep revising, keep submitting, keep pushing, and keep coming to conferences to learn more and make vital contacts within the publishing industry. Eventually you too can be an “overnight success.”


Yours in writing,

Bobbie Christmas

Owner, Zebra Communications

Excellent Editing for Maximum Marketability

Coordinator, FWA Editors Helping Writers

Contact Bobbie at

  1. September 15, 2014 8:20 am

    Doc: To receive rejections is to have submitted. I haven’t received a rejection in six months! Of course, I haven’t submitted anything. Writers can take comfort in rejections in that at least the submissions were made–and considered. How many submissions never get a response?

  2. September 16, 2014 1:41 pm

    True, L. Dean Murphy. Writers who get rejected are writers who are willing to submit their manuscripts, and our manuscripts cannot get accepted without if we never submit them.

  3. September 16, 2014 1:42 pm

    True, L. Dean Murphy. Writers who get rejected are writers who are willing to submit their manuscripts, and our manuscripts cannot get accepted if we never submit them.

  4. September 17, 2014 12:03 pm

    Don’t give up even if you never get the approval of the publishing gods. Get your work out to the people that really matter…..the readers.

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