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Tee Hee, I just got hold of this article via an All About Romance list member and author.
Apparently, big name publishers rejected books that had won literary awards such as The Booker Prize and The Nobel Prize for Literature. I tell ya, awards and literary acclaim don’t mean shit anymore – erm if they ever did that is…
The article by the Sunday Times starts:
“THEY can’t judge a book without its cover. Publishers and agents have rejected two Booker prize-winning novels submitted as works by aspiring authors.
One of the books considered unworthy by the publishing industry was by V S Naipaul, one of Britain’s greatest living writers, who won the Nobel prize for literature.
The exercise by The Sunday Times draws attention to concerns that the industry has become incapable of spotting genuine literary talent.
Typed manuscripts of the opening chapters of Naipaul’s In a Free State and a second novel, Holiday, by Stanley Middleton, were sent to 20 publishers and agents.
None appears to have recognised them as Booker prizewinners from the 1970s that were lauded as British novel writing at its best. Of the 21 replies, all but one were rejections.
Only Barbara Levy, a London literary agent, expressed an interest, and that was for Middleton’s novel.
She was unimpressed by Naipaul’s book. She wrote: “We . . . thought it was quite original. In the end though I’m afraid we just weren’t quite enthusiastic enough to be able to offer to take things further.”
The rejections for Middleton’s book came from major publishing houses such as Bloomsbury and Time Warner as well as well-known agents such as Christopher Little, who discovered J K Rowling.
The major literary agencies PFD, Blake Friedmann and Lucas Alexander Whitley all turned down V S Naipaul’s book, which has received only a handful of replies.”
The thing is, I am soooo not surprised by this.
The article continues:
Critics say the publishing industry has become obsessed with celebrity authors and “bright marketable young things” at the expense of serious writers.
Most large publishers no longer accept unsolicited manuscripts from first-time authors, leaving the literary agencies to discover new talent.”
What is the world coming to when publishing houses wont take a chance on new authors?
“Last week, leading literary figures expressed surprise that Naipaul, in particular, had not been talent spotted. Doris Lessing, the author who was once rejected by her own publishers when she submitted a novel under a pseudonym, said: “I’m astounded as Naipaul is an absolutely wonderful writer.””
I find it incredibly funny that a well known author can submit a manuscript to her own publishers under a different name, and get rejected. How the fuck does that happen? No wonder so many authors take the self-publishing route.
With big publishing houses not willing to take a risk on unknown quantities, how the effing hell are brilliant writers ever gonna get discovered?
JK Rowling should try submitting a book to her publishers under a different name. I’d piss myself laughing if she was also rejected. I probably wouldn’t be surprised though…