It is a Truth Universally Unacknowledged?

Daily Mail: “For when a budding author sent typed chapters of Jane Austen’s novels to 18 of them, changing just the titles and characters’ names, only one recognised her words. Another managed to recognise they were ‘a really original read’. But the rest simply rejected them or never responded, according to the man who posted the manuscripts, David Lassman.”


  1. i would reject almost every book in the ‘canon’ if i had a publishing house

    and FSG or someplace would reject every thing i accepted probably

  2. i really don’t like these kinds of articles.

    “It was unbelievable,” he said. “If the major publishers can’t recognise great literature, who knows what might be slipping through the net?”

    it’s because there’s no such thing as ‘great’ literature, only what a person likes and dislikes, and everyone has different likes and dislikes.

  3. i don’t like these articles because they somehow reinforce the idea that there are such things as objectively ‘good’ and ‘bad’ literature. and it works, because everyone likes to talk shit about big publishers for not ‘taking risks’… or something. also because it makes everyone ever rejected, which is i think 98% of people, feel good because now they are as ‘good’ potentially as jane eyre.


    but understandable, since newspapers that are for-profit and part of corporations are existentially required to increase profits, and it is articles like these that will get more hits and sustain or increase ad prices.

    blogs like this one and others though are not existentially required to increase profits, so are not required to make articles like that one. yes, the new york times and any other newspaper or magazine that is owned by a corporation is required to make articles like this and things like ‘best novels ever’ lists.

    which is one reason why blogs and other independently run things are more ‘free’ and therefore more able to do objective journalism than newspapers and other corporately owned things.

  4. If a painter tried to sell a Rembrandt to a gallery today, they would fail miserably also.
    If a publisher would reject the book as ‘old fashioned’, ‘it’s been done’ etc they would be perfectly right. And that doesn’t make Austen’s book crap, or the publisher an idiot.

  5. Um. OK, so the folks who responded as though these submissions were new work, yeah, they’re big dummies. But I don’t think there’s much significant about those who failed to respond. If I were a harried editor who received a copy of Persuasion as a submission, I don’t think I’d feel obligated to reply.

  6. Every now and then an experiment like this gets trotted out like it actually proves anything about the publishing world. I refer you to Neil Gaiman, who, back when it was V.S. Naipaul whose genius modern publishers were supposedly too blind to recognize, laid out some other, much more likely, reasons for the rejection letters.

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