Monday, April 24, 2006

For Writers, It's A Spin Cycle Out There

An aspiring writer forces rejecting agents and publishers to come clean about their reading habits.

He had tried repeatedly to excite them with his children’s novel. But each time it came back with a standard rejection letter, saying that they had read and enjoyed it but did not feel that it was for them.

He didn’t believe they had even turned the title page, so he scanned extracts from the instructions for his washing machine, called it The Tin Drum and sent it off.

He merely divided the instructions into chapters and added chapter headings such as Jumbo Drum. He said: “It was a pure washing machine user guide. I tidied it up, but you can’t fail to notice what it is. The first line was ‘LG’s jumbo drum can wash about 40 per cent more load than conventional washing machines’.”

The usual few months elapsed before he received the standard rejection letter. ...

This isn't surprising, surely: It's part of frustrated-writer lore, however true or not, that unsolicited manuscripts, whether sent to publishers or agents, don't really get read. Still, how lovely to see those lyin' rejection letters hung out to dry.

Even more gratifying is that the underdog writer triumphed when he finally went the self-publishing route:

After visiting 40 schools with his book, he found himself inundated with thousands of orders before discovering that it had also caught the eye of buyers at Waterstone’s and W H Smith, both of which decided to stock it.

Three film companies, including the Hollywood heavyweight Miramax, have shown interest, seven international publishers have approached him about the foreign rights and British companies are asking about the second and third editions. ...