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View Full Version : Encouragement?? Or otherwise?



Vomaxx
02-28-2005, 01:44 AM
I imagine many of you have seen this, but for those who haven't:

"In 1969, ... Jerzy Kosinski published a novel, Steps, which won the National Book Award. In 1975 a freelance writer named Chuck Ross was convinced that unknown writers just didn't have a chance.... To test his theory, Ross typed out the first 21 pages of Steps and sent them to 4 publishers, using the psuedonym 'Erik Demos'. All four rejected the sample.
In 1977 Ross typed out the entire book and, again using the name Erik Demos, sent it to 10 publishers and 13 agents. One publisher was Random House, which had originally published Steps in 1969. The manuscript was neither recognized nor accepted by any publishers or agents, including Random House, which used a form rejection letter."

The citation for this is "Getting Rejected? Feeling Dejected?" by Gloria Delamar. I would be happy to learn that it's just an urban legend. But it sounds all too true....

Greenwolf103
02-28-2005, 04:02 AM
Where did you get this? This is the first I've heard of it.

And what that freelance writer did was WRONG. I'm sorry, I don't care if it was just a test; he committed plagiarism. It doesn't matter that all of those publishing companies didn't recognize it as a previously-published book.

Also, you have to note the time changes. What gets published now really depends on what's going on and getting read NOW. If the book was first rejected in 1975, maybe that wasn't the right time for it. (This CAN play an influence in whether or not a book gets rejected, though not always.) But keep in mind that it originally made it into print in 1969. Now ask yourself this: Would a novel like Mary Shelley's Frankenstein or William Peter Blatty's The Exorcist get published right now, in 2005, without any changes to the way they were written? I'm guessing that, as an original novel, they wouldn't.

Inspired
02-28-2005, 04:16 AM
Good points Greenwolf. Here's the Amazon entry for that book: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0802135269/102-4496491-5834564?v=glance

It has further comments on the book you may find interesting.

jackie106
02-28-2005, 08:00 AM
In 1977 Ross typed out the entire book and, again using the name Erik Demos, sent it to 10 publishers and 13 agents. One publisher was Random House, which had originally published Steps in 1969. The manuscript was neither recognized nor accepted by any publishers or agents, including Random House, which used a form rejection letter."

On the other hand, maybe the editors at Random House recognized the book, figured that they had a crazy on their hands and decided that the fastest way to get rid of him was to send a form letter. Why antagonize someone who could be mentally disturbed when you can just send him a "Dear Author" letter?

The journalist's "proof" that new authors are not given a fair shake is fundamentally flawed because he did not know the reason why the agents and editors rejected the manuscript. I'm sure that I would get a form rejection letter if I retyped Don Quixote and sent it in.

Jackie

Vomaxx
02-28-2005, 08:18 AM
Greenwolf: If you type "jerzy kosinski" "chuck ross" into Google, you'll get about three dozen references. The story was originally reported in Time magazine and is apparently quite true. I believe that Gloria Delamar (whoever she is) was just one of many who quoted the story.

Naturally, I offered this for amusement only, without endorsing the obvious violation of copyright.

(I seriously doubt that Random House noticed a thing. But we'll never know.)

triceretops
03-01-2005, 03:57 AM
Perhaps some of the old RH staff was long gone and not familiar with the manuscript.But I've heard of this sting and it is true. He might have done better with a non-copyright entidy (over 75 years old) but such writing might be a little dated and subject to question anyway. Wolf brings up a good point--what was once hip to print can now be passe because there ARE trends in the publishing industry, no doubt about it.

Triceratops

BlueTexas
03-05-2005, 05:38 PM
Oh, how depressing! The thought that the 'right place, right time' theory applies to writing is NOT a happy one!

Greenwolf103
03-05-2005, 06:24 PM
Sometimes it takes luck, too.

blacbird
03-21-2005, 01:18 PM
Doris Lessing did something similar, with her own work, with the same results. It's more than a little disheartening.

bird

hapsburg
03-21-2005, 02:33 PM
This is discouraging...At least we know our rejections aren't reflective of our writing!

I'm hoping the internet, e-publishing, and falling printing costs allowing for more small publishers will in the next decade or so reverse this trend and allow more writers to be heard.