Thursday, September 15, 2011

Rotten Reviews and Rejections

A lot of writers have read Pushcart Press’s Rotten Reviews and Rejections… or if they haven’t, they might like to. If literary greats like Emily Dickinson and John le Carre could receive rejection letters, it could take the sting off the polite refusals in a hopeful writer’s inbox.

So I enjoyed reading most of the entries. Pearl S. Buck’s The Good Earth was turned down with the comment,

Regret the American public is not interested in anything on China.

“The what Luck Club?”

Then then there are the rejections that just don’t make sense, such as the one which seems to mistake George Orwell’s Animal Farm for a story about animals. I once did that too, but I was eleven at the time.

On the other hand, some of the rejections are understandable. If a book is 350,000 words long, it’s very unlikely to be published (and if it is, it'll need a marketing push to make up for the higher price). Many of the entries are also rejections or reviews of older books and classics. So this book is still well worth a look, but I wouldn’t take it as evidence that the publishing industry is dying, that editors don’t know a good book when they see one, etc.

Finally, my favorite rejection was the one for Oscar Wilde’s Lady Windermere's Fan.

My dear sir,

I have read your manuscript. Oh, my dear sir.


Unknown said...

I have heard of this book, but never picked it up. I'm thinking it's a must read!

Unknown said...

Yours is the second mention of this book I've seen in a month so I'm putting it on the list. It's kind of inspirational to see the greats being turned down and still keeping up their efforts. Guess that's what makes them different from those who gave up!

Marian Perera said...

Heather: It's a keeper. :) But if Pushcart put out a more modern version - say, rejection letters that Nora Roberts or Stephen King received - I'd like that even better.

Olga: You're right. If any of those writers had given up, we wouldn't even have heard of them today (at least, not as authors). Inspiring thought.