I’m reading Pushcart Press‘ perfectly pocket-sized (only 101 pages) Rotten Rejections and it’s great fun. It’s amazing some of the rejections now-famous authors have gotten over the years. Some of my favorites so far:
Rudyard Kipling (1889) – “I’m sorry, Mr. Kipling, but you just don’t know how to use the English language.”
Norman Mailer (1948) – “This will set publishing back 25 years.”
Samuel Beckett (1951) – “There’s no sense in considering them for publication here; the bad taste of the American public does not yet coincide with the bad taste of the French avant garde.”
John Le Carre (1963) – “You’re welcome to le Carre – he hasn’t got any future.”
I have to say it’s been fun reading through all of the blurbs and quotes from the author rejections. It’s interesting to see how often a book manuscript is rejected based on being bad vs. the author’s lack of skill. One thing I’ve noticed is that the publishing industry is a lot nicer these days. The form letters of 2013 are dull and drab to some of the absolutely b-r-u-t-a-l barbs editors and publishers replied with back in the late-1800’s through the early 1900’s.
But the colorful writing found in Rotten Rejections does make for better reading.