On Proving What You Know To Be True

April 13th, 2006 · 4 Comments
by Booksquare

When editors and agents reject a manuscript they tend to use a tried and trusted formulation: ‘Thank you for your submission, which I read and enjoyed. Unfortunately I don’t feel it is quite right for us.’ John Howard’s children’s book, The Key to Chintak, garnered so many of these identikit responses that he suspected the editors and agents weren’t even bothering to turn the title page.

So he sent in a new manuscript, The Tin Drum, not his own words this time but extracts from a washing-machine manual.

After a delay the replies started to arrive. You’ve guessed it: ‘Thank you for your submission, which I read and enjoyed. Unfortunately…’

File Under: Quote of the Week

4 responses so far ↓

  • bookfraud // Apr 13, 2006 at 7:52 pm

    i laughed so hard at this that i cried. and then i went over all my rejection letters, and cried some more.

  • David Thayer // Apr 15, 2006 at 7:41 am

    The Tin Drum is one of my favorites. To be fair, though, it is possible to read and enjoy the Maytag Manual and this is a subjective business.

  • Booksquare // Apr 15, 2006 at 9:31 am

    You’re right on the subjective — I far prefer the manuals that come with blow dryers.

  • bookweaver // Apr 17, 2006 at 3:53 pm

    I’ve never understood people who think publishers ask for submissions and then don’t read them. Apparently, the idea is the publishers love to spend hours opening up mail and then packaging it up again to send back to authors for no purpose other than the sheer joy of it. A form letter is a pre-printed form meant to save time. If you’re going to send in a washing machine manual, then when they see it, they’ll slap a form letter on and send it back. They’re not going to waste time sending you a letter asking why you sent them a washing machine manual. They’re used to authors sending them weird stuff — and having to spend the time opening up the envelope, looking at it and shipping it back. With luck, publishers will continue to be willing to look at weird stuff authors send them. If they have to send form letters to do that, then so be it.